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Jet removes Millie's diaper to get her ready to use the potty.

Jet removes Millie’s diaper to get her ready to use the potty.

“Jet needs to start wearing underwear,” the daycare teacher said.   These words induced anxiety, if not outright terror in her grandma’s heart. Jet had stood so firmly resistant during several previous attempts at training that the adults in her life gave up and returned her diapers.

Jet was more than capable of using the potty. This much was clear. She woke up dry each morning and after her naps. She would occasionally sit on the potty, but no amount of sitting or incentive would induce her to use it.

Since Jet’s new baby brothers have been keeping her mama and daddy up all night, I took the first three days of training. Her parents prepped her with underpants, pep talks, potty training books and a countdown to the big day. Her mother got her started by waking her up and removing her diaper while it was still dry. Our plan was to sit her on the potty and wait for the inevitable before I took her home to breakfast at Grandma’s house.

We started at 8:00 a.m. One cup of juice and two hours later, Jet was still holding. I suggested that we might try to visit the bathroom together. Jet remained uninspired. I grabbed a granola bar for my growling stomach and settled in for the long haul. Jet wanted a bite. “I’ll give you all I have left as soon as you put your pee in the potty,” I said, and took a bite.

“Please don’t eat it all Grandma.”

“I might. It depends on when you pee.”

“Save some for me, please.” Her big, sad eyes made me eat very slowly.

She caved in with a full third of the bar remaining, having held her bladder by that time for at least 14 hours and 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but admire her stamina. I doubt a Navy Seal could do better!

Bear Uses the Potty First

Bear Uses the Potty First

Back at Grandma’s house Jet surveyed the play area. A stuffed bear with underpants around its ankles sat in her new potty chair. Plastic tablecloths protected the carpet from accidents. A jar of M&M candies stood ready to reward success.

After breakfast, I showed her the timer. “When the timer goes off, your job is to pull down your pants and sit on the potty for a few minutes.”


“Here, let me show you.” I set the timer for 20 seconds. At the ding I invited her to practice.


“That’s okay, you don’t have to practice now. I’m going to set it and you know what to do when it rings.”

When the timer rang she didn’t want to sit on the new potty, she wanted to go in the bathroom. I agreed. I watched her take down her pants and climb up to the potty seat on the toilet.

“Now, Grandma is going to go potty in her bathroom, and you can stay right there until I’m done.” She did, but with no results. I reset the timer for another 30 minutes. When it rang again, she started for the bathroom, but I suggested she might want to try the potty chair next to the couch so I could read to her while she looked at the pictures in the new book I bought for the occasion. One chapter – no results – another 30 minutes on the timer.

Then suddenly before it rang, “I NEED TO PEE!”

“You know what to do!” I said brightly as she trotted to the potty chair. The pants came down and a happy sound filled our ears. “You DID IT!”

We called Aunt Mary, Mommy and Daddy. She got an M&M. We emptied the bowl, flushed the toilet and washed hands. After a smallish lunch the timer rang again. No results, so off to her nap. “I get a diaper!” she announced.

“Yes, diapers are for sleeping.”

One full day with dry pants!

One full day with dry pants!

At the end of nap time, I roused her before she had a chance to wake on her own and make use of the diaper. She recognized my intent the minute she opened her eyes and squirmed and wailed for the few seconds it took to remove the dry diaper. No further results that afternoon before daddy arrived to pick her up at 5:15 p.m.

Jet listened to us discuss the possibility that daddy might go home without her while I waited for the next successful attempt. We agreed that he’d wait until the timer rang again before leaving.

Jet knew just what to do when the timer rang. Within seconds, she had successfully used the pot, received praise and an M&M and was ready to go home with Daddy! Is it too much to hope that day two goes as well?

[With thanks to Carol who said, “You can do this!”]