a spirituality of potty training

We are on day eight of “this time we’re really sticking with it and getting the boy potty trained.” It’s going well. He’s becoming far more in tune with his body. Help me, Daddy! I goin’ I goin’!

He isn’t really going yet, but he will soon and, in any event, he knows that request is sure to jolt us from what we’re doing and command our partnership in this bold enterprise we’ve called him to.

And we’ve become more adept at helping him do the necessary tasks himself. That’s it. Thumbs around the waistband and pull down. Good job! Okay, now sit down on the potty…

We are determined to do everything we can to help this transition from diapers to underwear happen. After all, our third child will be arriving in a couple of weeks and we need someone out of diapers. Plus, his church dayschool program requires the three-year-olds to be potty trained. The time is now.

This past week has me thinking about what we might call a spirituality of potty training. Since this is our first, we have no experience in getting someone potty trained. Likewise, he’s never been potty trained before and cannot hold our hands through the process. There is plenty of guesswork to go around about how to fulfill our role as parents faithfully in this business of using the potty just as he is trying to figure out how to accomplish one more step toward the ultimate status distinction for someone in his position: “big boy.” (I a big boy, Daddy. Yes, you sure are.) There is indeed ignorance and vulnerability on both sides as together we learn what it takes to make this work.

Is this not in some respect like Christian community? I’m thankful that we have experts to help guide us, but most of us are still charged with walking together through all sorts of, well, crap in life that we aren’t sure how to navigate properly. We want to grow up in our faith and our faithfulness and most of our companions on this journey are not with us due to their expertise but because of a common path and guide. Therefore, most of those walking alongside us–those who continue with us after the experts, helpful as they are, have prescribed remedies and told us to go forth and practice them–may be just as ignorant of how to get there, and therefore vulnerable, as we are. But we do walk together. We live with the ignorance and vulnerability we share, even if we do so with all the awkwardness of parents potty training their first child. And what we seem to come back to is more or less the only approach that seems to be working for us and our son this past week: patience, continued focus on where we’re going together, encouragement through the journey, and kindness.

Much, much grace and kindness.

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2 thoughts on “a spirituality of potty training

  1. Ah, it’s been a long time for me, but I remember trying to find that place of peace and trust that the goal would be met, eventually.
    I’ve heard other people resort to Skittles as a prize, but we never went there. :-)

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