Peer pressure is a wonderful thing.
Okay, fine; most of the time it’s not. Usually peer pressure is associated with the “bad” kids in school egging on one of the “good” kids to do a “bad” thing. They’re trying to get him to cut class or drink alcohol or smoke pot or break into the teacher’s desk or a host of other “bad” things. In those cases, peer pressure is not wonderful; it’s harmful and, usually, dangerous for at least one of the people involved.
Thankfully, Eitan is only two and a half, so we don’t have to worry about that stuff just yet. Which is why, in our case, peer pressure is a wonderful thing.
Over the past few months, we have been getting together with some of the families in our neighborhood on some Friday nights for Shabbat dinner. The kids are all right around Eitan’s age, so they’ve all been hitting the same milestones around the same time. As parents, we’ve shared experiences and advice about everything from the kinds of diapers to use to the most effective methods of sleep training. The dinners have given us an opportunity to spend time together while our kids play nearby. And, since it’s all happening in one enclosed space, it also means we don’t usually have to use the same hawk-like supervision when looking after the kids, which gives us the chance to actually relax a bit.
Last week, we had dinner at the apartment of one of the other families. When we got there, I found out that most of the other parents had already started potty training their kids.1 Some of the kids were wearing Pull-Ups and some were wearing underwear but nearly all of them had been using the potty on a somewhat consistent basis for some time already. We have a potty at home for Eitan (two, in fact), and he has used it a number of times, but not with any sort of regularity. Trudy and I had been talking about how we were going to potty train Eitan and we’d set up a plan, but we hadn’t started implementing it yet. But then, at dinner, when we were talking with the other parents and the kids were playing together, Eitan suddenly came running up to us and yelled, “I have to go pee!” We laughed and asked, “Do you want to use the potty?” And he exclaimed, “Yes!”
So we took him to the bathroom, took off his (dry) diaper, and he went on the potty. Trudy and I cheered, told him how proud we were and what a good job he’d done. Eitan beamed with pride.2
Almost all the kids used the potty at some point or another during the evening, and their parents all played cheerleader at least once, as well. One of the kids even went into the bathroom while his friend was on the potty to tell him he was doing a good job. Eitan used the potty more than once during the evening and that night gave us the perfect opportunity to start potty training for real. Eitan has been using his potty at home and even went on his travel potty a few times yesterday while we were out shopping. There have only really been two accidents, but both happened at home and were cleaned pretty easily3 so things seem to be going very well. He’s gotten a reward every time he has gone and he has caught on to the concept of earning prizes fairly quickly.
I know I won’t always want Eitan to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Trust me, I’m incredibly thankful he’s still a toddler. In this case, though, I’m certainly not complaining.
(Also, Happy New Year, everybody!)
1. Trudy knew this already. The moms talk a lot more often than the dads do. Or maybe the moms just talk more about the kids and the dads talk more about sports. I’m not trying to be stereotypical here; I’m just thinking about the conversations Trudy usually has with the moms and the ones I usually have with the dads. That’s just how it’s happened.↩
2. For the record, cheering someone on while they’re doing their business is just one of the ridiculous things that parents end up doing for their kids. I’m not sure I can imagine giving someone a high five every time I pee, let alone getting a standing ovation whenever I poop.↩
3. The underwear was easily cleaned, but I’m not sure the same can be said for Mr. Incredible’s memory. He may never get past that trauma.↩