Pop quiz - What's the one aspect of parenting that paralyzes me with fear?
Sleep deprivation? No.
Breast milk vs. formula? Nope.
Back to work or stay at home? Wrong again.
Gathering everything that I considered "fun" from my bachelor days, stuffing it into cardboard box, topping the lot with oil-soaked rags and setting fire to it deep in the woods (figuratively, of course)? No, but that's a good one.
It's potty training.
If you think I'm going to say that I'm afraid of a little poo-poo and pee-pee, you're wrong. This isn't some lame 80's sitcom in which dad is baffled by backsides and velcro. I know my way around a box of Pampers Cruisers.
I worry about getting my kid trained without scarring him for life. As a young adult, I heard horror stories about unsuccessful potty training. "If you're too rigorous, he'll be wound tighter than a spring when he grows up, ready to uncoil at any moment!"
In other words, bell tower + uzi.
"If you're too lax, he'll be a ne'er-do-well adult, self-indulgent and listless."
No pressure there.
My wife is the smart one, and she pretty much took the reigns with Gracie's training. We did it during the summer when she wasn't working (she's a teacher). It went pretty well, and I just followed orders during the procedure.
However, we're doing William now. In September. When I'm home.
We put the potty in the bathroom several weeks ago, and explained what it's for. William was mildly interested, but that was it. We made no further mention of it.
Then, a few days ago, he said to me, "I want to go pee pee in the potty."
"Oh, God," I thought.
"OK, honey," I said. We walked in, I sat him down and he produced two little drips. I went crazy and gave him an M&M.
He made the association almost immediately. He sat down and did some more. I gave him another M&M. This went on for the rest of the afternoon.
Fast forward to today. He's been dry and in underwear for almost a week. I pretty much let him run around in underwear, and he's eaten more M&M's than anyone ever should.
He's a bit maniacal about the candy, actually - pouting when he's "empty," and unable to get another M&M.
It went well. William is peeing successfully and I don't think I damaged him. Good for us.
*With apologies to Stanley Kubrick, my favorite director of all time.