Life Update: Plastic Chairs and Potty Training

Life update time – I know how keenly you all look forward to my inane twaddle about domestic affairs. I feel as though this is almost a bonus ball, too, because last week you had a rant about pumpkins which was a life update in itself. Or at least an update into my (unhinged?) state of mind!

Angelica is four and four months (ish) and today, on this very day, Ted is precisely two years and nine months. I am three weeks shy of thirty nine. The earth is approximately 4.543 billion years old. And now that we have established everyone’s ages, shall we get down to the fun bits?

I went to parents’ evening the other week and sat in the smallest chair I’ve possibly ever squeezed myself into. As an adult. (Apart from a Ryanair flight to somewhere called Paris Beauvais Tille, back in about 2002. That aeroplane seat was probably tinier. Also: Paris Beauvais Tille turned out to be nowhere near Paris. It would be like calling an airport “London Peterborough”, or “London Stansted”. Oh.)

I wondered whether anyone at parents’ evening had ever broken one of these tiny plastic chairs because – not to cause controversy – I’m not even particularly heavy yet still the chair legs were wobbling about precariously. Things must get kind of dicey. I wonder if they have a spy camera on the wall ready to catch the moment that a chair breaks so that they can send the video to You’ve Been Framed.

Anyway, I went to parents’ evening and looked through all of Angelica’s little books and diaries and I suddenly felt a weird and almost overwhelming sense of detachment. I don’t mean that I felt detached in that I wasn’t bothered or that I didn’t feel as though I wanted to be involved, I mean that she suddenly felt so detached from me!

It dawned on me that there she is at school, living her own little life – a life I hardly know anything about because she’s always too tired to tell me – and doing joined-up writing and adding up numbers! What the hell? How did this happen? I’ve gone from knowing every single detail about her day, down to the smallest yawn or the longest toilet trip, to knowing absolutely nothing.

And on one hand this unnerves me slightly, because it’s a big old change and a sudden one at that, but on the other hand: BLOODY BRILLIANT! Isn’t it great to have someone else to rely on to educate your kids? I’m aware that education starts at home, yadda yadda, but knowing that there is someone out there doing all of the letters and numbers with them so that you don’t have to (as much) is a blessed relief, isn’t it? It takes the pressure off, surely?

So, as always, it’s a game of two halves, this particular milestone. The school milestone. Bittersweet. On the one hand I miss her massively during the day, on the other hand I get to spend a bit of time lying on my bed in a damp towel, thinking about how clean and tidy the world would look if we turned it upside down and the ceiling was the floor…

In other news:

Who ever thought potty training was a good idea? It’s a nightmare! Or is it just boys? I say: just wait until they are actually so ready to use a toilet rather than poo in their pants that they’re clawing at the bathroom door. “Open the door, Mum, I really want to poo in the toilet, all me mates are waiting for me out on the lane and it’s getting embarrassing shitting in these adult nappies!”

Joking, obviously. Nobody wants a teen who can’t yet use the toilet. But this pressure to train them into it – knowing when to start, how to start, it’s an absolute minefield! I feel as though potty training is like getting a puppy – your life is on an even keel and feeling relatively easy for once, and you look around and wonder to yourself, how can I possibly make my life really, really difficult? Hmmm.

Because if you’re potty training then it’s likely that your toddler is sleeping through the night. Right? Surely you wouldn’t even go there on no sleep? So you’ve done the baby years then a bit of the toddlerdom and they’re maybe starting to do quite grown-up things like talk and rationalise and spend ten minutes on their own without almost killing themselves; they’ve stopped putting small, random choking hazards into their mouths and they perhaps no longer need a bib… What, what, you ask yourself, could we do to completely f*ck up our lives.

I know! Let’s remove the nappies and let the child roam free around the house, increasing the potential for them to smear shit on household objects and soft furnishings by approximately 820%. What a great idea.

Actually, I’m saying a lot of this for effect: Ted is doing very well and is now actually asking to go to the toilet when he needs a wee. It’s just the poos that seem to be more difficult. (Apologies if you’re reading this post and have absolutely no interest in child toilet habits – it’s just that it has dominated the month.) Not too many accidents, but I must say that potty training Angelica was an absolute breeze in comparison!

I was going to do a little life update on myself, but I don’t want you to be bored to tears. Work, work and more work. An hour of Netflix every night with some dinner, ten minutes of reading before bed and then blissful sleep. That seems to be my daily pattern at the moment, unless I have something to do in London, in which case it’s work, work and more work, followed by wine and wine (I try to keep it to two glasses) and then a bit more work (because there’s nobody to tell me to stop) and then bed. I have dozens of hotel reviews to write up, actually, so I must get onto that – do you like hotel reviews? If you’re not particularly bothered then perhaps I’ll squish them all up into one long post…

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  1. Stripy
    November 14, 2019 / 10:11 pm

    Love your comments on potty training, so true. I’ll shortly be starting it for the third time (OMG)!!! My eldest son was easy, got the hang of it with only two accidents, and was out of night nappies six months later. This potty training is a breeze we thought! My daughter came next, took 6 solid months of accidents before she deigned to use the potty, she couldn’t have cared less about the state of her undies and at six she’s still in night nappies. Before this experience, i’ll be totally honest, I might have been a bit judgy of other parents in the same situation. But goodness me we tried EVERYTHING!! So frustrating as a parent to have a situation so totally out of our control, but now getting some really good support from the NHS. Roll on number three, it can’t possibly be worse!

  2. Karen
    November 6, 2019 / 1:27 pm

    My boy has just turned 3 and refuses to poo in the toilet, waits til the nighttime nappy is on
    His twin sister was more stubborn, would just stand and wee, but now does all wees and poos in the potty or toilet.
    Time to lose the potty now!
    It’s exhausting!

  3. Sarah
    November 5, 2019 / 2:01 pm

    And this is why I love you Ruth. Rose is 2 and 7 months and according to bloody nhs website she should be trained basically. There’s no way yet and I’m tearing my hair out. I also have a new baby so I figure I get a free pass???!!! I’m on the verge of a breakdown as it is…..

    • November 5, 2019 / 7:37 pm

      Oh bloody NHS website! Bloody milestones! I ignore nearly all of it. I’ve not even looked this time around!

      • Sarah
        November 6, 2019 / 3:19 pm

        I’m just glad I’m not the only one in the middle of it all xx

  4. Miss Kitty
    November 5, 2019 / 5:13 am

    My sister’s girls toilet trained without too many dramas. Her boy, on the other hand, is about Angelica’s age and completely uninterested in anything to do with toilets. It’s like he just can’t be bothered! When he wants to, he will tell you he needs to go, otherwise it just gets done in his undies. My sister has given up trying for now, and just put him back in nappies, easier and less smelly all round. Nothing worse than trying to clean 4 year old’s poo out of undies!

    • November 5, 2019 / 7:38 pm

      Ohhhhhhh, the older they get the worse the poo cleaning is!! Nobody prepares you!

  5. Julia
    November 5, 2019 / 2:33 am

    Ruth – I love, love, love your life updates. I also am thrilled to finally find another person who, like me, looks at the ceiling and imagines how the world would work if the place were upside down. Thank you for sharing that.

  6. Louise
    November 4, 2019 / 5:49 pm

    My son is about as old as Ted so I’m in the same situation. I have heard from a lot of people that girls tend to be quicker with the potty training. All the comments here seem to confirm that too…NowI’m really curious as to why!? Time for a google session!

  7. Anja
    November 4, 2019 / 3:45 pm

    I loved this again! I really had to laugh about the ceiling being the floor thing. That would be amazing! On the detachment, I hear you. Both my children are at kindergarten in Germany and it’s so weird how they’re bringing back home things they learnt there (including not so nice words or phrases! O.O) On the potty training front, I was spoilt by our son. He did really well and started making his poo on the potty from year on. On the other hand he still needs a nappy at night at almost 4yo though. Our daughter has no interest whatsoever in the potty. We did everything same as with our son, but she’s just not having it. Although the kindergarten teachers say she’s doing quite well there???

  8. Gillian Pidler
    November 4, 2019 / 1:02 pm

    I found with my kids and my nieces/nephews etc, that the best way to find out what they’d done all day at school or wherever, was not to ask what they’d done, but to ask what was the most favourite thing and least favourite thing they’d done, it often opens the gates for more detail!!
    As for feeling detached about her world away from you, just remember this, actual fact just gone through this last few days. She’ll still need you, your advice, ideas, point of view and help with decisions and choices all through her life, my youngest is 19 and she’s just had a major decision to make about her uni course. It was me she chose to chat to about it till 1am this morning, me that went over modules and options longer term, me that bounced questions and ideas back and forth with her and me that she bounced into after speaking to her tutor this morning with a smile on her face and feeling much happier that she’d come to her decision.
    My eldest is about to leap into the foray of house buying with her husband and I’m sure that will be a whole other story, I have everything crossed for them of course.
    In short mothering never ends, they’ll always be our babies, they’ll always come to us with their concerns, ideas and good news! It’s the best job ever!

    • November 4, 2019 / 9:30 pm

      Thank you Gillian, what a lovely comment x

  9. November 4, 2019 / 12:39 pm

    My daughter was so easy to potty train, my son was harder and then suddenly went back to zero and refused to poo anywhere else than his pants for six long months. I have no clue why, nothing worked, and then one day he just went to the toilet again. Might be a boy girl thing, I don’t know, but it was nerve wracking.


  10. Tina
    November 4, 2019 / 9:12 am

    Hi Ruth. My daughter was also a breeze to potty train, but my Son was a nightmare. He was fine with weeing in the potty but insisted on putting on a nappy and standing behind the lounge door for a poo every single time. He wouldn’t go any other way! It’s obviously a boy thing. We got there in the end though x

    • Naomi
      November 5, 2019 / 2:01 pm

      Oh I was about the comment the exact. Same. Thing!
      I don’t have a daughter, but my son who is 2 years and 10 months is weeing on the potty and doing well at nursery with the toilet/potty. But will hold poo until home and always ask for a nappy. He will then go off to his usual spot (leaning on the spare room bed) and play with some toys while standing.
      How do we break this cycle?? What is it with boys?

      • Erin
        November 6, 2019 / 2:25 am

        I had the opposite problem–my son was fantastic about pooping on the toilet (from 2 and a half!), but a small damp spot in the front of his shorts/pants/trousers was pretty much omnipresent until 3 or 4 months ago (he just turned 4). He could just not be bothered to stop playing (even outside, when we encouraged him go in the yard). Of course, that opened another can of worms, as he still thinks any space outside is fair game—be it the driveway, the sidelines of his older sister’s soccer game, or an outdoor museum—cue me yelling, “no, no, not here, stop!”
        On the other hand, his sister was “late” to potty train at 3 and a couple months, but we were finished (with few to no accidents) within 2 weeks. She even could sleep without a diaper within a month or two–the boy is still wearing pull-ups to bed (and I don’t see the end anytime soon).

  11. Anye j
    November 4, 2019 / 8:57 am

    I read potty training and I clicked immediately. .. My son is 2 and a half and we haven’t even started yet. Honestly, have no I idea even when or where or how to start. Perhaps I should try the teenager idea. ..

  12. Jessie
    November 4, 2019 / 8:31 am

    Love your life updates Ruth! And would LOVE more hotel reviews! Going to London in December and I’m always looking for new places to stay. And restaurant reviews too please. Trust you implicitly!

  13. Madeleine
    November 4, 2019 / 3:48 am

    I love your hotel reviews. I’m still dreaming about that snowy one (was it in Sweden?) that you recently visited. :)

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