Tag Archives: bribing kids to potty train them

Here Kitty

Today’s a big day. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach.

Or perhaps I should say mice.

Because, after long last, it’s kitten day. The day we pick up our young, grey adoptee, Wally, from a local rescue. (A place, I might add, whose qualifications for adopting are so stringent you’d think we were getting a six-month-old baby.) It’s taken two weeks for the whole process to go through, but we’re done now, approved, prepared. We’ve got the carrier, the litter box, bell toys, Trader Joe’s scratch pad–I think we’ve covered everything.

But really nothing will prepare us. I’m terrified. I know what a kitten is. Oh, they’re cute, fetching, lovable, and all that. That’s what gets them in the door. But they’re also middle-of-the-night head pouncers, mewling meowers, tchotchke smashers, stinky poopers, furniture destroyers, and skin shredders. I hope we can handle it. Not to mention afford it!

Right. The money. Why, you ask, did you elect to do this now, with your finances in their current state? Pets are expensive.

My short answer is, blame Mike. About a year ago, in a moment of weakness, he promised MJ a kitten if she’d start pooping in the potty. We were desperate; bribewise, candy wasn’t doing it. Cut to the present. The kid is trained. Goodbye diapers. It’s a damn miracle. And I didn’t want to be those parents that made conditional promises and then hoped their kids would forget.

So I reminded her.

Which is why Mike’s short answer to the above inquiry is: blame Jessica.

In any event, a cat is coming. The house will never be the same. Mina will never be the same. Our couches will never be the same.

But Myra-Jean will believe us when we give her our word.

A small price to pay, right? Small and furry. And able–God, please–to poop where we ask.





Waiting For Poo (Doh!)

Mike thinks Myra-Jean is the next Samuel Beckett. I think she’s just fucking with our heads.

Either way, she’s been turning out some pretty interesting literature recently. All on the subject of pooping. Three books in the last couple of days, each one more cryptic than the one before. The first two can at least be understood–they are basically anti-defecation tracts, repeating the general sentiment that Myra-Jean does not, ever, want to become potty trained. But the last one? Um, can you say Rosetta Stone? As in, need one?

But I get ahead of myself. Let me say that, after she wrote the first two books, something happened. Something amazing. We had our first–our only–true poop in the potty. It was a miracle. Finally! A few months short of the four-year-old mark, too!

Needless to say we were thrilled. We sang, we rejoiced, we posted on Facebook. (OK, I did. Mike doesn’t even have an account. Which makes him, I suppose, superior to me. Except that he gets all of his dirt from my page.) We were so thrilled we would have given MJ anything. And we did. She got a half an hour of music videos. She got Halloween candy. (Yes, it’s still around. No, it’s not stale. I don’t think. I didn’t taste it. Is there such a thing as a stale Nerd?) Finally, she got a kitten. Or was promised one. Yes, a real one. I know. We’re suckers. And gluttons for punishment. As if one mentally deranged dog isn’t enough.

But the next day MJ, having accepted her rewards with great pleasure, declared she would poop in the potty no more.

“What?” I said, trying not to yell. “Why?”

“It splashed me,” she replied primly.


“The poop.” She shook her head. “I didn’t like it.”

I sat back on my knees, weaving slightly. Suppressed disappointment will do that to you. As will hours of sitting on a bathroom floor.

“Look,” I said, “poop doesn’t always splash. It almost never does.”

MJ looked at me suspiciously.

“I mean, I get a splash, like”–I reached in the air searchingly–“once a month. Or two. What happened to you was an anomaly.”

“A what?”

“It never happens. Splashes do not happen.”

“I felt one.”

“No, I mean–you did. But it was a freak accident. Please try again.”

She wouldn’t. I begged. We went back and forth. It was a talk of epic proportions. I felt like a UN ambassador brokering peace in North Korea. If UN Ambassadors do such a thing. And if feces are involved.

We got nowhere.

Finally I had an inspiration. “Look,” I said smiling brightly. “You have to poop. You can’t hold it in forever–”

“Yes I can,” she interrupted.

“No you can’t,” I snapped. Then I took a deep breath.

“Here’s the thing,” I went on, all serenity again. “I’m willing to compromise, just to get out of this bathroom. OK? So how about I lay an open diaper in the toilet. Beneath the potty seat. To catch the poop as it falls. OK?”

Myra-Jean considered this preposterous idea. Which clearly wasn’t, to her. “So there won’t be a splash?”

I fought to keep my face placid. Staycalmstaycalmstaycalm.  “No splash. Just…a gentle thwock. OK? Can we please do this?”

She thought about it more. “Fine.”

And that was what we did.

And now guess what? It’s the new normal.

And I’m about to lose my mind. We’ve been working on this one thing for what feels like seven centuries. I have bent over so far backwards to make MJ feel unrushed and unpressured that I am in some sort of permanent yoga pose. Call it “hapless parent.” And still, we are only here. Pooping into–instead of in–a diaper. I’m an idiot. Or am I?

It’s really enough to make you question your own sanity. Never mind your kid’s.

I will leave you with today’s book. Mike claims it’s his favorite yet. May I remind you, he went to art school. Both grad and undergrad.

Here’s the text, as dictated precisely by MJ moments after getting off of her new rig:

Page one: “Wow! This is actually very easy. (Sigh)”

Page two: “(Sigh)”

Page three: “I really didn’t want to do it at first. (Sigh). Huh (like a sigh).”

Page four: “I’m not sure if I really want to do it. HHHH. Sigh.”

Page Five: “Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada.”

Page six: “I don’t know if it’s going to be easy or not. In the end I am going to watch all of my videos and eat all of my candy.”


What else is there to say? I’m nuts. Why shouldn’t she be? Clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

But when it does fall? What a sound that makes.