On Board the Potty-Train

Cats are cuter than baby brothers.

Cats are cuter than baby brothers.

My son, God bless him, is in no hurry to grow up. He was almost two before he took his first steps. He didn’t wean until after his third birthday—and no, that was NOT me on the cover of Time magazine. And now, just days before his fourth birthday, he has finally decided to potty-train.

“What’s wrong with him?” Yes, I got that question many times—most often in regards to not walking.

“Nothing is wrong with him. He’s just not in a hurry. It is refreshing to see a child being a child without growing up too soon,” I would say. Secretly, however, I hope that his protracted babyhood won’t mean a seventh year of undergrad and living at home until he is 30.

Anyone who spends time with him knows that his slow start isn’t the sign of an intellectual delay. He’s very bright. He solves problems creatively. His play is imaginative, and his vocabulary?

I told him to prove to me that he is ready for potty-training, and he said, “Mom, I be demonstrating readiness by wearing underpants.” Demonstrating. That’s pretty impressive for a child who isn’t quite four and has never attended pre-school. His grammar sucks, but his vocabulary is expansive.

So, at last, potty-training has begun.

It started with him making a proclamation a couple of days ago. “I’m never, ever wearing diapers again!” and following up with a request, “Mom, you get me a cat?”

You see, two years ago when I thought he should be ready to consider potty-training, I told him and his sister that once he was out of diapers, I would consider getting them a pet. I thought that would be a great incentive, but it wasn’t. Instead, he just held onto this piece of information and waited until he was ready.

Now, he has worn underpants for three days straight with no accidents, and he is ready to collect the promised reward. He wants a cat.

Life was a lot different two years ago when I said I would be open to getting a pet once I was no longer changing his diapers. The big difference, of course, is that his grandmother now lives with us and she requires a great deal of care.  There is a part of me that wants to go back on my word. I have enough beings to take care of, but is it fair for me to say how I really feel about this? “You can have a cat after Grandma dies, because until then, I have plenty to do. I don’t want to scoop kitty-litter any more than I want to change a Depends.” That seems harsh to me–and unfair to my children. Why should they be deprived of having a pet? It’s one of the quintessential childhood experiences.

So, if my son can continue to be demonstrating his potty-training skills, I’m actually open to getting him a cat.

He wants a baby brother also. I’m drawing a line with the cat.

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