Life with three children in nappies is undoubtedly hard work, however I can’t help but conclude it is far simpler than life with two children in nappies… and one in big boy pants. I have been dreading toilet training almost since the Toddler was born, and have been ignoring the signs of readiness for several months. Finally, last weekend, I gave in when the Toddler asked to go to the loo whilst at a restaurant, despite the fact that he had on a perfectly good nappy. I just can’t understand his eagerness; I mean, if you could get away with peeing in your pants all day, wouldn’t you do that instead of fannying around working out where the Ladies are? I’d be far more productive at work if I didn’t have to take frequent loo breaks.
Still, big pants it is (for both of us – mine being considerably bigger than his) and he’s taken to them like a toilet duck to water, with only one accident all week. And that was my fault really; I was distracted by this vase on Flog it! just like one in our loft, and I was waiting for the auction to see if some how we might be inadvertently mega-rich. It went for £2.50 in the end, which won’t even pay to get the carpets cleaned.
This morning I was trying to get myself showered and dressed as well as sorting out the pygmies so we could be in the car and on the road by 9.30am. I was feeling on particularly top form after a 5am wake-up call from the Toddler, who was freaking out thanks to a recently acquired poster of a horse on the back of the bedroom door (“His nose is so biiiiiiiiiiig” he wailed, waking the twins with a cacophony of cries and securing the mood for the entire day).
Just as I thought everyone was ready to go I realised the Toddler was standing suspiciously still, legs apart and emitting a familiar smell. “Oh no”, I said, “not again…” Yes, I know Gina Ford tells you never to reprimand a child for an accident; I know this is the one area of parenting that most of the gurus actually agree on; but it’s very easy to deal with a hypothetical poo with a bright smile and a “never mind, shall we try for the potty next time?” There is something very wearing about scraping poo from pants, especially when it has been intentionally curled out; “but it makes me nice and warm, Mummy”. A top toddler tip for those chilly winter mornings, perhaps.
Clean, dry and in the car, sandwiched between his two sisters, I fixed the Toddler with a deathly stare; “right, we are going to be driving for two hours, so you WILL need to wee. You need to tell me when you need a wee and I will stop the car.” Only six days into toilet training (‘potty training in a week’? Oh pur-lease, like maybe if you start when they’re NINE…) I was somewhat nervous about attempting a long car journey without the safeguard of a nappy, and had visions of swerving across several lanes of the M5 to reach the hard-shoulder before the Toddler’s bladder shared its bounty with the car interior. The Toddler looked at me like I’d just been let out of an asylum (if only; I could do with the break) and we set off.
As we passed each layby, turning or otherwise suitable opening, I slowed to a crawl to give the Toddler ample time to flag up any toileting needs. In between loo-stopportunities I slammed my foot down on the accelerator, like a child racing between the last two stools in a game of Musical Chairs. Inevitably, just as I committed myself to joining the dual carriage-way, he piped up; “Mummy -I-need-a-wee-NOW!” Now, I know this stretch of the A40 like the back of my hand, and I know enough local gossip to avoid a particular lay-by. The one fast approaching, and the only available place to pull over safely enough for an emergency wee. Please don’t think me remotely bigoted, or at all reluctant to engage with all sectors of the community, but if you Google this particular Oxford lay-by you will find it features in a variety of Dogging sites (not of the Crufts variety, if you get my drift), several Cruising guides (no, not of the Mediteranean type), and a fair few Cottaging blogs (and no, not of the holiday-home ilk). So you can perhaps see why I was reluctant to expose my children (not to mention my childrens’ bits) to a beauty spot of ill repute. However, needs must when the devil’s threatening to wee on your gearstick, so I gingerly pulled over, extracted the Toddler from his central seat and pulled down his pants the bare minimum amount necessary to permit a standing up wee against the car. I wrapped my cardigan round us both, glaring around the deserted lay-by as though any moment now a paedophile was going to leap out of a bush with a zoom lens and a grubby hand in his pocket. Armed with the fierce instinct of a hormonal mother, I fished around in my handbag for an old eye-liner (to take down the numbers of suspicious cars lurking with intent) and a can of Impulse (I’m a bit hazy on how this might help, but I saw a programme once where someone sprayed air-freshener – or hair-spray maybe – in the eyes of a would-be rapist. Or something. Anyway, it worked a treat, whatever they did).
I took a break from my sweeping surveillance to glance down at the Toddler, who was looking with interest at his uncooperative apendage. “Look, Mummy, I didn’t need a wee after all!”
There’s a lot to be said for nappies.