If I have learned one thing in the eight years and four kids I have parented it’s this: nothing works twice.
It’s kind of the cruelest joke of parenthood. You stumble through your first kid and think, oh I got this now. Then the second one comes and not one thing is (well beyond basic care) the same. I knew that each child would be a different, unique individual, but I thought there would be some basic parenting skills I would gain and use again and again. Apparently the parenting skill that I honed the most, and use again and again and again is patience, perseverance and creativity.
Take potty training for example.
My first was a boy and everyone, from the checkout clerk to family and friends, insisted that boys were hard to train. I was regaled with tales of boys who had to be begged and bribed to be able to start preschool. So I sat back, did our thing and didn’t give potty training a thought. Until at 18 months he asked to go to the bathroom. When I brought home his sister when he was 2, I had actually hoped for the regression everyone warns you about. Nope. The baby only made him more persistent. That boy trained himself in less than five months with only one public accident.
I patted myself on the back and thought, “Sweet, my next will be even easier, she’s a girl everyone knows they’re easier to train”. Oh how funny that is now, looking back. She had the interest, the desire, starting at 18 months, but no earthly idea how or what she was doing. She just wanted to be like her brother and so we went through the motions, and the laundry, as she peed everywhere we went. Than one day it clicked and boom she was done, just like that.
So now I have another 2 year old and another baby.
I have zero, absolutely zero interest in potty training. This 2 year old is hardcore stubborn. While she has been asking for months, not one thing I did with my other kids has worked for her. Not. One. Thing. She cares nothing of rewards. We tried treats the two times we had success, that ends in tantrums when she doesn’t get another one for just sitting there. I have even resorted to letting her watch Elmo’s Potty on my phone if she promises to stay sitting on the potty the whole time it plays. To add to the fun she will cry, beg and scream for a diaper. Really. She has no interest in being big or wearing underwear like her siblings.
So I dig into that bag of parental skills patience, perseverance, and creativity and keep at it. I have one more to go, odds have to be in my favor for another easy one right?