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The Potty Training Success That Helped Me Feel Better as a Dad

In this edition of "Great Moments in Parenting," a dad reflects on a potty training success story that helped him feel better as a parent.

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Welcome to Great Moments in Parenting, a series where fathers explain a parenting hurdle they faced and the unique way they overcame it. Here, Kevin, a 34-year-old dad from Tulsa, Oklahoma, explains how he snapped into action and helped his son avoid what would’ve been a potty training mishap. 

I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I think every dad should. We have a very important job. But there are many, many times that I’ve messed up or let myself down by doing something boneheaded. But then there are these little moments where I surprise myself and think Hey, maybe I’ve got a handle on this. A few weeks ago was one of those moments.

My son is in the thick of potty training. These are messy, high pressure times. I feel like I’m in an 80s movie half the time, trying to track down some sort of nuclear bomb before it goes off. But he’s been doing pretty well. We’re at that point where he knows when he needs to go, not when he tells me he’s already gone. Big difference.

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Anyway, a few weeks ago, we were in the parking lot of our local hardware store. I was picking up a few things for a renovation project and my son was with me. He loves going to stores, if only for the joy of cruising around in the shopping cart. We have a good time zooming around. This was a longer than usual trip as I had to track down a few parts I needed and he was getting slightly restless, but all in all it was fun.

As we were bringing our stuff to the car, my son, who was walking beside me, tells me he has to go to the bathroom. I was stoked he said something. But in my mind this is a code red because there is little lag time. My hands are full of heavy packages. If something happens, I know we’re in for a messy afternoon. Not only that, but he’d be bummed about not going in a potty.

Our portable potty, however, was in the car. I’m maybe 20 yards from it at this point. I move my packages to one arm, gently scoop up my son, and we rush over there. Somehow, I’m able to press the unlock button on my keyfob from the inside of my pocket while hustling with him and the packages and, in one fell swoop, I set him down, swing open the door, grab the portable potty, stand it upright, and just in the nick of time, he sits on it and is able to do his business. He was excited to be able to do it.

I know this sounds like a small thing, but man I felt awesome. I know it’s important to establish a potty training routine once you’ve begun and we’d been making great progress. If he’d had an accident it would’ve set us back and probably disappointed him, especially seeing as though he was able to actually tell me he had to go. For a parent, that moment is huge. Especially after all the poop talks and accidents and explanations and target practice.

I cleaned the potty, we got in the car, drove home, and felt great. Being a dad can sometimes be full of these little setbacks and letdowns. It’s little moments like this that recharge the battery and let me know that hey, maybe, I’m doing okay at this.