What Freud Never Told Us: Potty Envy

I am coming out of week one of Potty Boot Camp. This would be with Little Fish. I’ve done potty before with his older brother, so I should have been prepared. But as with all big changes, like having a newborn, that first week is horrible. Nothing but emotion, adjustment, exhaustion. I’d forgotten about that.

Come to our house for a Christmas Potty!

Come to our house for a Christmas Potty!

There was one thing I could not have known because I’d never done it before. St. Nick was an only child when he went through PTBC, and he switched from diapers to puppy pants (his phrase, I have no idea why) with little complication. But Fish, with St. Nick and the baby? Complication, indeed.

The baby is as reasonable a seventeen-month-old as one can expect. Slightly jealous when I hold a friend’s baby, but not yet in the terrible twos. Until Potty Day.

Mud Pie cannot get over the potty. It is her throne, her private chair—strange for a child who is not yet walking and who ignored the potty for the past six months, when I had it out “in preparation.” Whenever her brother sits on it, she throws herself on her face and wails. He has taken to grabbing her around her little middle and hauling her away so he can do his job. All the while saying, “No baby, NO Baby!”

And St. Nick, whom I expected to be excited and helpful with this task (I mean, this is a kid who lives for talk of poop and pee pee, for all things gross and stinky), morphed into a toddler when Boot Camp began. Fish would get a treat for having dry pants, and St. Nick would demand, “Where’s mine? I have dry pants too!”

“Well, yes. You do. But you already know how to use the potty.”

For some reason, this answer didn’t cut it with him.

Most of the stress of Potty Week did not come from fear of accidents or the constant hawkish watch I kept for “signals” (you moms who’ve done this will know what I mean), but from the other two kids. And it wasn’t about the potty, not at all. It was about Fish and the extra moments of my attention he received.

The thing that bothers me most: Fish is the happiest I’ve ever seen him—has he been shortchanged in the attention department these past years? And what of his siblings? They had grown so accustomed to him getting less, that now they bristle at the praises and treats showered on him.

The week was a full one, but an important one as well. Despite my intentions not to do so, I see now that I have been treating my middle child as, well, a middle child. And it took a potty to open my eyes.