The other day, my son took a diaper from our portable caddy and handed it to me. He then grabbed the box of wipes, a changing pad and laid down on the floor. And just this week, as I picked him up from the day care, he said, "potty," and raised his shirt, indicating that he needed to be changed.
If the kid can do all that, I thought to myself, he is ready to be potty trained. But the question is: Are the rest of us ready?
My mother has been encouraging us to potty-train my son since before his first birthday. And my excuse was always that he couldn't be fully trained until he moved into a day care room with bathroom facilities. But when that happened a few months ago, he still didn't seem ready. My next excuse was the pediatrician's assertion that 18 months would be a good time to start. And now that 18 months have come and gone, I'm still unconvinced that it is time.
I understand that there are clear advantages to taking him from Pampers to Pull-ups: Every time I look over my receipts, I'm always in awe at the sheer amount of money we spend on diapers each month. And one can only change a wriggling toddler on the bathroom floor or picnic bench so many times before it grows old.
Each weekend, I pore through my books and search the Internet looking for a solid answer on the appropriate age at which a child should be fully potty trained. And every week, I am shocked to find that there is no one answer. A Google search for "potty-training tips" yields nearly 2.5 million results. Is it any wonder I'm so confused?
I even took a quiz that was supposed to gauge a child's readiness to be potty trained. My results? "Remember that there are no hard and fast rules about when a child is ready that will work for every child."
Some of the signs are there: He says potty, pulls up his shirt and is always ready to hop up on his new potty seat. But as my husband and I encourage him, the water running in the sink - I've been told it helps; it doesn't
- he seems content to simply sit there for several moments before snatching off a bit of toilet paper from the roll and holding it out for us to dispose.
My experience with him reminds me of a story that has made the Internet rounds in several different adaptations.
While out to sea, a large boat became shipwrecked and there was only a single survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon thereafter, another boat came by and offered the man some help.
"No thanks," he said. "I'm waiting for God to save me."
The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again, the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely decline. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he said again.
After some time, the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God briefly.
"Why did you let me die? Why didn't you answer my prayers?"
"Dummy, I sent you two boats!"
Through all of my research, I am waiting for an answer - a sign - that meant my son was ready for this next step. And like the drowned sailor, I've already received my answer. Now it is just a matter of whether I will be brave enough to accept it.