Boys: Demented & Dangerous,  Inventions, Creations, Experiments

Blast From The Past: Potty-Training Nomad-Style

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.



  • Tiffany

    That last picture is one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a long time! Thanks for posting that! I have 3 boys & I’m not looking forward to potty training the last one!

  • Leeny

    Oh, gosh, how adorable! But yikes, woman, you were brave letting them loose all night without their diapers! But I guess dire circumstances require ingeniuos, though not entirely, perfect solutions. I love it, great story!

  • Zoot

    Nomad style potty training sounds AWESOME. Heh.

    My one similar story is that my friend’s daughter was spending the night with use when our kids were little. She and my son woke in and started playing after they were supposed to be asleep. When I found them, my son didn’t have a diaper on. I asked him where it was and he showed me. Then he said, “Guess what! We pooped! And we HID it!” They had pooped in the floor and picked up the poop and hid it on a bookshelf.

  • MGM

    HA! I LOVE IT! The picture is hilarious!!!!

    My daughter showed interest in potty training beginning at 16 months, but was never consistent. I discovered by accident that she would stay dry if she knew she didn’t have a diaper on, so I tried the naked potty training method (which I never thought I would do). After letting her run around naked for an entire day, she was trained for good with no accidents. She was 22 months old. That was TOO EASY!

    Love you site. Thanks for vising mine and dropping a comment!

  • Shanda

    I am a lurker…..sorry. I love your writing and enjoy your stories. This post is by far my favorite. I have my own little bundle of puppy dogs tails. Potty training was not so easy in our house, but we made do. I like the way you parent. My mother would die if she knew my five year old wonders the house at night occasionally. I am just happy he is not waking me up. Keep up the good posts, and I will keep reading.

  • KLee

    Offspring never went through the taking off of the diaper phase, but she DID go through the ‘I want to show my panties to everyone in the world’ phase. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 🙂

  • Phx Butterfly

    Oh my gosh….I am glad I wasn’t drinking anything when that last photo appeared, I was already laughing to begin with…I know it would have come out of my nose and shorted out my laptop and then I wouldn’t be able to read your next highly anticipated post. Your writing reminds me of one of my all time favorites and greatly missed Erma Bombeck.

  • VHMom

    Duct tape is a great idea, but hard to use with a wiggly walker. We started putting on the diapers backward with the tape to the back. That worked wonderfully until she started the picking thing, too. What a mess! Cute boys you got there! Love to hear about them!

  • Kimarie

    I may just have to give this Nomad Potty Training a go with my 2, almost 3, year old son who is just NOT getting it.

    And wow, brilliant story. Absolutely brilliant. Love the pictures to go along with it.

    I don’t know, you may not always see it, but your life is just brilliant 🙂 I love it!

  • Barbara

    This should go directly to your Best Post list. It is divine!

    I love the Nomad idea. You were a brave woman to try to sniff or feel puddles!

    Ah, memories.

  • Nicole Barczak

    OH MY GOD! This is THE BEST post ever. I love it. I keep reading it over and over… it cracks me up! Oh, I can’t wait for those days with my own little Porter… YIKES.