Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

Potty training turns into a battle of wills

Potty training is a family event

I was not planning on writing about potty training at this point but since that is what our entire family is focused on this weekend it seemed necessary. Treyton is our fourth child so we have already been through this process three other times; however, the other three times were with girls. We have heard that boys were more difficult to train but we also have the Down syndrome factor. We are dealing with two big “unknowns.”

Before I go any further I want to point out that I am involved in the process but not nearly as much as my wife. Leigh Ann was the driving force behind training the three girls and she is with Treyton as well. So, when we finally can say that Treyton is potty trained, Leigh Ann will be the one that deserves most of the credit. After she gets her credit Treyton will deserve some and then the rest of us.

Early victories

On Wednesday afternoon I received a text from my wife saying that she had some success with Treyton on the toilet. It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to hear the story surrounding that singular victory. After hearing the story I wasn’t sure if I should be more proud of Treyton because he had done what he was supposed to do or proud of Leigh Ann because she had stuck with it. I decided that Leigh Ann’s persistence was probably the biggest deal.

Here is a bland version of the story, if you want all of the details you will need to talk to Leigh Ann.  Treyton had spent most of the day naked so that his mom could get him on the potty chair at the first indication that the plumbing was starting to work. Then it happened, things started to flow as he was sitting in one of the living room chairs. Frustrated, Leigh Ann put him on his potty chair while she got him and the family room chair cleaned up.  He appeared to be finished because nothing else happened while sitting on his potty chair.  A couple of minutes later it happened again. Leigh quickly put him on the potty chair but once again he seemed to be done. It was time for a second clean up job. Shortly after that is when we had the success! That little guy must have been storing it up for a while because he still had more in him and this time it was in his little toilet.

Faded memories

Friday I called home at lunchtime to see if Leigh Ann could use some help picking the kids up from school. I asked her how her day was and she made it very clear that it was not a good day. Treyton was not cooperating at all. As a result I shortened my work day even more and got home so that Leigh Ann could get out of the house for a little while and pick the kids up from school.

Well, I think Treyton had his first accident within the first 15 minutes of my watch. After that I was very vigilant, I was not going to have two personal failures in one afternoon. When I set him on his potty chair I noticed that it wasn’t the best design. It would have worked for a girl but it was a mess waiting to happen with Treyton sitting there. As soon as Leigh Ann returned I headed to the store and picked up a new potty chair another that fits on top of a toilet, as well as a bunch of prizes. I didn’t get any cheap prizes either; I meant business so I picked out some good stuff.

The battle of wills

There is a Robert Burns quote I have heard a number of times that says, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” That quote is how I would sum up the rest of Friday. The new potty chair was designed right but the prizes where not the motivators I thought they would be. It became a battle of wills. I was ready to throw in the towel for the weekend but not my wife, she was still determined. The problem was that Treyton was apparently also determined.

There were plenty of times where we wondered if the issue was that Treyton didn’t understand. We wondered if this was one area where Down syndrome was affecting him.  We really were not sure.  On the one hand he wasn’t making the connection that life would be easier for us all if he just went to the bathroom on his little toilet but on the other hand he would squat and pee in the grass with our new puppy.  That is when we concluded that Treyton is smart enough to be potty trained, it is now a matter of if he wants to be trained.

The longest day

Friday was one of many long days to come. Take a look at the video below, you will see how strong willed that little blond-haired boy can be.  I couldn’t believe it when he started to fall asleep right there.  I guess I should be proud of the fact that when he decides he is not going to do something he sticks with it.

Rob Arnold has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 19 years. Together they have three daughters and one son. He earned his bachelor's degree in General Business from Grand Valley State University as well as an MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University. He enjoys reading, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his family.