Friday, November 25, 2011

The Blue Potty Seat Incident

This is for Mallory who wanted more stories of parenting. This one is kind of cheating because we don't run into issues like this very often. Most of my parenting intervention stems from someone not wanting the other person having the thing they want. That will be its own post. Today is the Blue Potty Seat Incident.

I was on the computer doing something. McKay was busy doing something also. Margaret was on the potty. Alone. With a pen. And this was the big potty, not the kiddie one, so she was sitting on one of those little potty cushions that you put on the toilet seat so that small kids don't fall in.

McKay found her with pen marks all over her legs and pen holes poked into the cushion of the potty seat. We have two such potty seats, and of course she was on the her favorite one: the blue one. The other one has ducks on it. Ducks are just not as cool as the color blue.

Well, when McKay found her, he came to me wondering what we should do about the potty seat. My brain did this:

Pen on her legs? Not a big deal. It just washes off. It's her body anyway.

But the potty seat. Hmm... She didn't really do anything "wrong." It's not like we had a rule of no-pens-on-the-potty that we could point to and say, "Hey! You broke this rule, so X needs to happen." She's being 3. And it's not a sin to be three. I probably would have poked holes myself! And the fact that she had a pen? Our fault for not catching that.

But it's not really useable. Well, it is. But I like to clean the toilet and all the potty seats weekly and having holes in the foam part is going to be an issue. I don't think I could get it clean like I like it anymore. 

So what we decided was to tell her that the potty seat was broken and couldn't be cleaned anymore and that she needed to throw it away. McKay led her out to the garbage can for that and with lots of crying, she threw it away. It was her favorite. It really was.

I spent some time holding her while she sobbed about the loss of the potty seat. Part of me wanted to say, "Get over it! It's just a potty seat! You have another!" But I didn't. She wanted to be heard, so I would interject things like, "That was your favorite blue seat; you liked it a lot," in order to show her that I understood why she was upset. When she was done telling me how bad it was, she did move on and has since happily used the ducky seat.

My only second-thoughts about the potty seat are related to whether or not it really need to get thrown out in the bin for the landfill or if it would have been better to figure out how to repair it and be a little more eco-friendly. I could have used an old plastic flannel-backed tablecloth and reupholstered it. But it was just a little potty seat, probably not worth the reupholstering.


  1. It sounds like you and McKay are both pretty good at being patient when your children do things that you don't want them to do. I think that's my biggest problem. I often just jump to the punishment without thinking about how serious of a problem it -really- is. (Those cushion potty seats are so hard to clean!!! Benji always got pee on them while he was sitting down, and when he got up, as the cushion decompressed, it would suck pee into it. Gross. Now he either stands to pee or squats on the big seat. Don't know how a little girl would handle that, though! lol) Thanks for a parenting example post!

  2. I super-approve of how you handled this. I hope I can be so calm and controlled. There was a consequence, but not some arbitrary "you are bad and I'm going to punish you" nonsense. Go Mama.

  3. You handled that just great, by which I mean, I would have done the same. Love the non-blaming and calm validating of feelings. Go you!!!

  4. For the record, I'm not a patient person by nature (ask my family or any of my college roommates or friends). It's something I'm still learning. McKay is the patient one. I've only seen him get close to being made at the kids twice and both times he's just gone to another room to calm down! I do not have such a good record. While this potty seat incident was happening, I thought to myself, "This is like one of those examples you read in parenting books!" It's very textbook and easily painted into "This is perfect parenting." This is not the norm. How many times is a potty seat damaged? Like once. How many times do kids fight over a toy? ALL THE TIME.I'll touch on the more common issues in future posts.


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