Dr. Travis & Mr. Troupe

There are days when I feel like the worst parent walking the Earth. The last couple of days have been no exception. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve made a grave mistake somewhere along the line and if my little fella Travis is going to be an only child.

I’m talking about potty training, folks.

The concept is simple. You put the pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty and you get a nice clean pair of drawers to enjoy and sit around in until such time as it’s necessary to repeat the above process.

Simple, right?


If someone had told me how difficult it would be to get an intelligent, yet headstrong, almost-3-year-old to sit and deposit his product into the nice little plastic talking potty, I might’ve…I don’t know…hired a professional’s help? Sent him to Toilet University? Left the country until it was all over?

Something like that.

In my head, he’s sort of attached himself to his diapers like a security blanket. He likes the cushiony feel, the welcoming pictures of Pooh and Tigger frolicking on the crotch of his disposable pants, and feels comfortable in the knowledge that he can void to his heart’s content so that he can…keep…playing.

So, when Laura and I decided that we needed to get serious about breaking up this happy union, we knew we were in for a fight. We just had no idea how much of a fight our little 32 pound punk would put up.

It starts out innocent enough. “Hey buddy, maybe we should try sitting on the big-boy potty.”

Travis doesn’t hesitate. “I don’t want to.”

We’re not complete jerks. We know that it’s something that a little guy should ease into, so for the longest time, we hadn’t pushed the issue. I’ve gotten close to completely figuring out his ‘schedule’, and missed the opportunity for him to deposit a ‘deuce’ by mere minutes. Minutes!

I still think fondly of the ‘turd that could’ve been’ and it’s been like, months ago. I know. If you would’ve told me four years ago that I would be even blogging about this, I would’ve chortled as if that were balderdash and went back to quietly reading my book in a leather chair in a study somewhere presitgious sounding.

So, it’s a struggle. The last couple days have been, shall we say, eye-opening. When we introduced the big-boy underwear (PullUps along with actual cotton briefs), shrieks that can raise the dead come out of our little guy. He doesn’t want them. He wants Pooh and Tigger and the frolicking. Change is bad. We fear change, Travis thinks.

Or so I think he thinks. You think?

To our credit, we’ve discovered that the new underwear make him fidgety. He doesn’t want to do his thing in them and that’s when we pounce.

“Travis, do you need to use the big boy potty? We should do it! It’ll be so much fun!”

Yeah. Fun. That’s exactly what using the big boy potty ISN’T.

What follows is a series of screams, tears, and the occasional banging of the head on the nearest hard surface to show how much he is against the idea. He kicks. He hollers. He fights the idea of sitting his little butt down on the potty with everything he has.

He goes from mild-mannered and friendly to something close to the Tazmanian Devil on heroin. I’m waiting for him to start spinning and cutting Travis-shaped holes through the walls.

But…we’ve made some progress.

Everyday for the past couple o’ days we’ve managed to get him to sit down and do his thing…a little. He’s funny about it. Instead of letting us know he squirted a little business in there, we have to stand him up periodically and check for ourselves.

After a particularly long bout of trying and trying and trying, I lifted him up and took a look.

“Travis! You did it! You went potty!”

You’d think I won the lottery.

Travis was excited, too. He was jumping up and down and shouting “I did it, I did it!” He gave me a high five, we clapped like he’d just accepted his first of many Academy Awards for Best Potty, and there was much celebrating in the house o’ Troupe.

We’re keeping the momentum going, y’all. We’ve even roughed out what’s going to be the masterpiece to end all masterpieces. I’ve fleshed out an ‘incentive program’ or what we like to call around our house The Big Boy Potty Game.

Here’s the rough version:

Don’t fall into the Diarrhea Swamp!

As you can see, it’s sort of like Candy Land, except with toilets and turds that have arms and legs. Also, there’s a roll of toilet paper who seems a little too happy for my taste.

Hey, I’m a writer. I never said I could draw. That’s probably the saddest looking toilet ever.

Anyway, the concept is simple. Every time he uses the big boy potty, he advances a space. Every three spaces there’s a little dot on the game board. That will give him a chance to dip into the prize box where there are like a quarter of a million Matchbox/Hot Wheel cars (his biggest vice) that he can pick from.

Travis has advanced two spots already. He’s on his way, yo.

I can feel it.