There’s something magical about potty-training that brings out the kid in every adult, or at least it does in my family. As my husband and I introduce our one-year-old daughter to the toilet, we have concocted an elaborate routine of celebration and song to encourage her in the process. At any given time of the day, shouts of glee can be heard erupting from behind bathroom doors. Brandon, my husband, can be seen twirling down the halls in dance and jubilation, an Irish kick to his step. More important than the clapping is the singing of the famous deedle-lee-dee song that we shout in unison every time she sits on her pink plastic toilet.
a-deedle-lee-dee, a-deedle-lee-dee, a-deedle-lee-dee-dee-DUM!
We don’t always get “results”, so to speak, but no matter what, we always cheer Ellie on, and not surprisingly, she joins us in our joy, clapping her hands with pride and with a beaming, toothy smile. To demonstrate consistency, we even clap and cheer for me if I am near a toilet and Ellie is within eyesight, and it works, Ellie claps along and applauds my toilet training. Though Ellie is nowhere near to being potty-trained, the results that we do get are the results that really matter: a household filled with laughter, joy and enthusiasm. A family committed together to celebrating the smallest of small things in life and in doing those small things together. Confidence in knowing that eventually, we’ll get the physical results from Ellie that we hope for and that pink, plastic toilet will be filled with all sorts of well, treasures.
Apart from the excitement of spending hours of my day in sporadic bursts of clapping, as a first time mom, I’ve learned a series of unlikely life lessons from, well, an unlikely teacher, that pink, plastic training potty.
Lesson on life #1 from the pink, plastic potty:
DEVELOPMENT AND MATURITY DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT,
Life itself is a journey of development, and I rejoice in knowing that, though I may impatiently desire it, I am not expected to master a skill or a phase of development overnight. In the same way it is ridiculous to expect a 14-month-old to be introduced to a toilet one day and then be diaper-free the next, it is ridiculous for us to be so hard on ourselves in our own areas of growth. In my heart God is working on developmental skills of patience, flexibility, humility and unshakeable faith in His abundance, but, like Ellie’s progress with the toilet, my mastery of those character skills will take time.
It is when we can learn to clap for ourselves … to have the clarity to see the larger picture of growth and development, that we can smile youthfully as we learn life’s lessons and we can trust the process of development that our Heavenly Father has for us. This perspective gives us patience in the process and the ability to still rejoice with the baby steps, or little potty successes, we do have.
Lesson on life #2 from the pink, plastic potty:
ENTHUSIASM CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Enthusiasm changes everything. It makes the dull exciting and the daily grind a daily party. And, what I’ve learned from parenting, is that enthusiasm is a choice. I don’t always feel like singing the deedle-lee-dee song and I don’t always feel like running Ellie up one or two flights of stairs to the bathroom where her potty is, but every time I take the first step of action to do it, every time I make the decision to choose enthusiasm, enthusiasm rises up in me and takes over. The point? Sometimes you just have to start, and once you do, enthusiasm will take over.
Lesson on life #3 from the pink, plastic potty:
POOP IS FUNNY, LET YOURSELF LAUGH A BIT.
Poop is funny. And no, Ellie is only 14-months, so we haven’t yet succeeded at helping the poop find a home in the pink potty, but the adventure of it is fun in and of itself. Furthermore, poop, when you’re a parent and literally have your hands in it multiple times per day, is a nice, stinky reminder that can help you remember that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously .
Lesson on life #4 from the pink, plastic potty:
BABY STEPS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS FINAL SUCCESS
You don’t have to have something mastered for it to be worthy of celebration. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If, like in potty training, we could learn to embrace every baby step of progress with enthusiasm, then we will would more quickly learn and advance towards whatever goal it was that we are pursuing simply because we are creating for our minds an atmosphere of positivity. That positivity draws us in and encourages us to keep showing up and to keep sitting down, metaphorically speaking, on our own pink toilets.
Let’s face it, if Brandon and I weren’t elated over Ellie’s small expressions of interest in her pink, plastic potty – if we didn’t celebrate these baby steps as giant leaps of victory and progress – then we would never find ourselves with a potty-trained child. In the interest of not having to budget for diapers for the next 18 years, we’re ready to make sure Ellie knows just how proud we are of each tiny bout of progress she makes, no matter how far we might be or feel we are from actually being potty-trained.
I love learning and love that in this new phase of life – the phase of teetering through parenthood – learning comes from the most unlikely of teachers. Cheers to every parent out there who has successfully potty-trained a child, to my parents who trained me, and to every mom and dad out there right now singing the deedle-lee-dee-dee-dee song right alongside me!