Discouraging potty humor rather than dealing with potty training is our primary focus now, and my memories of teaching Finn to use the toilet are vague.
Not so with the twins. I don’t remember when it started, but one morning we woke to find the duo in their cribs naked from the belly button down. They became obsessed with tearing off their diapers, mostly at night. I quickly tired of vacuuming cotton fill from the floors after Drew and Porter ripped off the Pampers and dissected them before hurling them across the room.
That’s when Bill and I began securing the diapers with strips of duct tape while the twins looked at us reproachfully. It was clear we were robbing them of one of their cherished activities, second only to rearranging the condiments in the refrigerator.
The duct tape worked, and Bill and I congratulated ourselves. I was especially pleased because of all the vacuuming time I was saving. As with all child-related successes, we celebrated too soon.
The duo’s next milestone was learning to escape from their cribs. Porter, always a gifted climber, perfected this skill several weeks before Drew, but his brother’s lack of dexterity was no problem. Porter simply pushed a chair next to Drew’s crib. Once Drew had gingerly negotiated the railing, he could slither onto the chair and then the floor. They were free!
From then on, Drew and Porter began escaping nightly, despite our attempts to keep them in their beds. Noiselessly they’d toss their pillows, blankets and stuffed animals onto the floor, climb out of the cribs, gather their belongings, and roam the house until they spotted a more inviting spot to slumber, at which point they would set up camp and fall asleep. Each night Bill and I would make sure all the doors that led outside were securely locked. Every morning we’d search the house for our youngest boys. They’d be under the computer desk one morning, curled up by the refrigerator the next.
One night I woke up and heard excited babbling and a strange snipping sound. Bleary-eyed, I went into the twins’ bathroom. Porter was working with his craft scissors, sawing at the duct tape around his waist. Drew had located real scissors, and had almost freed himself from his constraining diaper, though it had cost him dearly. His fingers were mottled with tiny cuts and there were smears of blood on his waistband.
After a hasty conference, Bill and I decided that if the boys were vehemently anti-diaper, we’d respect their wishes. Urine on the floor was preferable to sending the twins to school with cut up hands and trying to explain that to their teachers.
From then on, we put them to bed bare-bottomed and hoped for the best. Drew and Porter continued their nightly sojourns around the house, and we continued our morning twin locater service. I added a new routine to the morning, in which I walked around the house barefoot, sniffing, waiting to locate puddles by feel or by smell.
My investigations were in vain. My feet remained dry, and my nose picked up plenty of foul odors, but urine was not among them. After a week, we concluded that the boys were either stopping by the toilet to pee during their nomadic travels, or had learned to stay dry through the night.
Potty-training nomad-style was perfect for our family, but I wouldn’t recommend it for those who don’t want to face bare asses before coffee.