Since Ben was about eighteen months old I’ve been keen to teach him how to use a potty and stop using nappies. If being a parent has taught me anything it is that children respond really positively when we give them the option to be more independent. Even as a little baby Ben has reacted positively, even joyfully to being given more independence (putting him in a floor bed at twelve months remains my best ever parenting decision) and I felt certain that after a bit of adjustment he would really rise to the independence that being free of nappies could bring.
Ben has been wearing disposable nappies since he was born, which with hindsight is a decision I deeply regret. Quite aside from the environmental disaster that is disposable nappies, I am strongly opposed to big corporations having a financial interest in our children remaining incontinent for as long as possible. Pampers are literally profiting off my child’s lack of independence, which is pretty much the antithesis of everything I believe. Values fail.
Hindsight is always glorious twenty-twenty technicolor of course, a rose-tinted vision of elimination communication and cloth nappies and how wonderful it could have been. But hey ho, this is where we are. I refuse to abuse myself or any parent for their decisions; we are all doing the best we can with the information that we have and the little sleep we can scrounge. So back in May, when Ben was twenty-one months old Chris and I set a date just after his second birthday to ditch the nappies, and I blocked out ten days to stay at home and help Ben ease into our new rhythm.
Today we are two weeks in, and I feel a little… bruised. But triumphant. Ben is enjoying his one day a week at nursery for the first time since we introduced a potty, and I am melting into a chair in my favourite cafe nursing a celebratory latte and writing for the first time in two weeks. I am so very proud of him, and just a little bit proud of myself. The first ten days were incredibly difficult, but in the past couple of days I feel as though something has clicked, for him and for me. We’ve unlocked a new parenting achievement level (little video gamer reference there), and I really feel as though we’re entering a whole new phase of his life.
Quite aside from potty training, the past month has seen an explosion of imaginative play that makes my heart swell to bursting. Armed with a hanging basket and a wooden plant marker Ben takes me hunting for dragons in the garden, a game entirely of his own invention. Big blue dragons with blue feet apparently, who live on the drive. He has a rather battered charity shop Trunki that he likes to pull around, saying “come on tunki, let’s go hodiday.” He recites passages from his favourite books at the drop of a hat, particularly The Gruffalo, which has him spellbound every time. We have recently started watching Octonauts together, because Ben is fascinated by sea creatures and submarines, and I can see him getting excited about the adventures unfolding before him. For someone who has always lived deeply and richly in their imagination, I find it completely magical to watch him develop his own creative relationship with the world around him.