My son, left undiapered one moment too long, recently strutted into the living room and pooped on the floor.
It was a cause for momentary horror, disgust, and then, rejoicing.
This is not to say that my wife and I were happy that there was something brown and gross waiting for us to clean up. In fact, my wife ran screaming from the offending item. However, it represented the culmination of ongoing hints from our toddler, Elijah, that he is ready to move on to the next stage of his exciting life: potty training.
For him, this is an important developmental moment. As his parents, we just hope it's the beginning of the end of diapers.
Looking back, we should have seen this coming. For weeks, the little guy has shown that he knows when he's about to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, that means running behind the rocking chair in the corner of his room to do his business. This is totally normal, according to William and Martha Sears in The Baby Book, a 767-page book that promises to include "Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two."
For the record, it did not warn us about what our 20-month-old did in the living room. But at least it could have been worse. One of Elijah's pals likes to go Number Two, then take off her diaper, dump its contents somewhere random — say, on the couch — and finally present the empty diaper to Mommy.
In our case, Elijah's actions were preceded by him tugging down on his diaper again and again while we looked at him strangely. Eventually picking up on his signals, my wife and I took off his diaper and rushed him to the toilet. We don't have a kid-sized one yet, so the real thing had to suffice.
Note to other first-time parents: Dangling your child over a watery abyss while shouting at him to "Poop! Poop!" is not the best way to potty train your child. I think it frightened and bewildered him more than anything else. Which is probably why he caught stage fright and ran out into the living room, still naked. You know what happened next.
I don't know about Elijah, but I'm pretty psyched about what we do next, even though I'm not exactly sure how it will work. In my mind, it pretty much consists of going to Babies R Us and buying this musical Lightning McQueen training toilet.
The Sears have a lot of other suggestions in their book, including how to find the best potty-chair or adaptor, but some of their ideas I'm not so sure about. For example, using a doll that wets itself as a model to show where urine comes from (page 580: "Potty props") or letting Elijah run around the backyard naked so that he can take a dump in the grass and actually see how pooping works (page 583: "Outdoor training").
If I'm lucky, Elijah will do most of the hard work himself, with a little positive reinforcement from me. After all, this is a kid who figured out how to use the TV remote, our cell phones, and the car's window wipers. Surely he can master his own bodily functions.
If not, there's always that cell phone. Turns out there's an app for toilet training too, something I found on the Android Market called Pull-Ups iGo Potty. Among other things, it promises a talking potty that will call Elijah with words of encouragement.
Somewhere, I hope, those words reflect my current sentiments: Potty on, little dude!