Some graduations don’t require caps and gowns. Rather, all it takes is some comfortable toilet paper, a copious supply of Peppa Pig underwear, and a pile of very absorbent towels.
As of this week, I’m done with diapers. It’s been more than seven years, but now it’s over.
Perhaps it’s too early to say that for sure, but I’ll knock on some wood while I type this and go ahead and proclaim that my final child is now potty trained. As was the case with my older two children, the potty training happened suddenly.
And if I’m being completely forthright, there was never much training involved. We basically just waited until our kids were plenty old and randomly chose a day to tell them we were running out of diapers.
When it comes to something as finicky as potty training, you do what works. For some parents it’s bribes, for others it’s strict regimens, and for us it’s apathy and half-truths about diaper supply.
I thought getting our youngest child to use the potty would be easy because she’s our only girl and she’s the youngest. Since she has always been eager to do whatever it is her older brothers do, I assumed this would extend to using the potty. I was woefully wrong.
Not only was she not interested in eschewing diapers, she refused to even discuss the matter. Her third birthday zipped past with no signs of any cracks in her defenses. Whenever I even mentioned the possibility of not using diapers at some point in the future, she got extremely angry.
But as it turns out, there was nothing to worry about. When it comes to parenting, our worries often outstrip reality. My daughter wasn’t ready to graduate to using the toilet. Until the day she was.
Sure, there have been a few accidents along the way. Our new Peppa Pig undies have really been through it. But really, it’s incredible that what has been the norm for three years can suddenly be considered an accident.
It is remarkable how much a child can transform in the span of just a few days.
One day they are completely oblivious — or worse, belligerently obstinate — and the next they are happy to report every ten to fifteen minutes that they need to “go to the hallway” where the bathroom is located.
I feel like I can learn something from children’s ability to turn the page and not look back.
Sometimes it’s good to let go quickly. To pull off the band-aid with one quick tug.
When parenthood defines a large part of your self — as it does for me and many others — it can be difficult to embrace change. To be okay with graduating to the next phase. To be willing to redefine yourself in an instant. For the past seven years up until last week, I was the parent of a baby, but today, I am the parent of little kids.
No, there wasn’t a cap and gown or fancy ceremony (although our post-bathroom celebrations were kind of fancy), but my daughter graduated this week and so did I. And like many things in life, when it comes to graduating, sometimes it’s easier not to have a plan.
Sometimes it’s better to take the leap. To fly by the seat of your pants. To live loose and free. To wake up and take each new day as it comes. No water-proof protection required. Not anymore.
For more from Explorations of Ambiguity by Andrew Knott, like us on Facebook and sign up here to get the latest updates right in your inbox! Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years is available at Amazon.
And check out my parenting humor publication, Frazzled, on Medium for fun stories like this one…Study Finds Plate Color Does Affect Taste of Food.