Saturday, 3 November 2012

A golden miracle

G&T - 35 months M - 13 months

It's been a few weeks since I've managed to find time to write this blog. We've had tummy bugs, baby jabs, horrid colds, more vomiting, doctors' visits and very nearly a stay in hospital.... In short, it's been hell. But amongst it all, a little chink of heaven has shone through. We've had a miracle. Six whole months since I began the process, I finally, after countless trials and traumas, have two totally toilet-trained toddlers. Well, kind of...
What with little M arriving when the twins were 22 months, then us all upping sticks and moving from London to Scotland a few weeks later, I didn't even start trying to potty-train the girls until they were nearly two-and-a-half. All the signs were there. They had long since had the language and understanding of what was expected. They were incredibly enthusiastic about potties and pees and big girl pants. They were ready. And after a few messy Dettol-filled days, T just got it. She soon started asked for the potty at the right time, then quickly got the hang of the toilet. We swiftly moved out of pull-ups to go out, into pants all day, and she never looked back. I turned all my attention to G, praising, rewarding, cajoling and cuddling. My reward? Nothing.
Frustration soon set in. Aware losing my patience wouldn't exactly help, I gave up and put her back in nappies, waited a few weeks and tried again. And again. And again. Even little M taking to sitting on the potty and announcing 'Poo!' didn't spur her big sister on. I began to panic. I hadn't expected this to be a completely seamless process, but, honestly, how long was it going to take? Would she be trained before she was due to start nursery? Before school? Before her baby sister?? It soon became obvious where the problem lay. G was having fewer and fewer accidents, and had clearly gained control of her bladder. But when the time came, something was just stopping her using the potty instead of the floor.
Five six months in, I decided to just go with it. I put her in pants whenever we were in the house, and just accepted that I'd have to be on the ball and clean up any spills before a curious M got her hands, mouth or anything else on them. It actually wasn't too bad, though I'd only recommend this course of action if you have wooden floors... And after about three weeks, it just happened. We had a living room full of guests when G told her Daddy she wanted to try the potty in the dining room and voila! A pee! A golden stream of wonder! It was a warm, wet miracle! Within days, she was doing everything in the potty, and has even made the odd attempt at using the toilet. I honestly can't believe it. After all this time, it seems to have just happened. Accidents are few and far between and, despite all my fears to the contrary, I have no doubt she will be totally trained before her third birthday next month. The past six months have suddenly become worth every pee-obsessed second.
I've been trying to think of what tips I should be passing on to mums who have all this fun ahead of them. Of what pearls of wisdom these tough few months have afforded me. Only I can't. I don't have any. This isn't an exact science, and I don't have a magic wand to wave.
In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn't have tried to train the twins together. But which one would I have tackled first? Both ticked all the boxes, both were equally willing and able. Should I have been more consistent? Gone with one reward system and stuck to it through everything? Maybe, but it isn't that simple when you have two other toddlers to chase around. And when it comes down to it, I'm not sure it would have changed anything anyway. G started using the potty when G was ready. Not when the books told her she was, nor when I decided she should be. Whatever mental block was stopping her, she simply decided one day to step over it, and that was that.
It's easy for me to say now, and I know I ignored this very advice myself mere weeks ago, but the only thing you can do with potty training is relax. All the experts in the world can't tell you about your own child. T and G have the same level of language, the same comprehension, enthusiasm and sense of fun, but they are two very different people, and I can't force them into boxes to suit me. T has always been more willing to try new things, she's more compliant and trusting. G is a fiercely individual soul, who likes to observe and assess and wait until she's fully ready before she does anything. And that's OK. It's more than OK, it's who she is. It's who they both are. Who all three of them are. I call the girls 'the girls' out of convenience. They are not a set, a neat little group of Russian dolls. They are three wonderful, crazy, challenging, separate little people. And no matter how many heartaches that causes, and how much money I spend on Dettol and kitchen roll, I wouldn't have it any other way.