The lengths we go to

We are in the final stages of potty training with our two year old. She started the process quite early, in the days leading up to her baby brother’s birth. It was an awkward time for me to take the potty training plunge with her, as her timing would inevitable coincide with Aaron’s need to nurse or be changed. I think because she was so young when she started, and because those months were a little chaotic and I was divided in my attention, it has been a rather lengthy process for us.

Now that we are in our family leave, we are giving her training our very full attention. I have to laugh sometimes at the things we do to motivate our daughter in this area:

-at present, Rachel Ray (who adorns the box of Wheat Thins) “gives” Mercy a cracker every time she goes in the potty

-Mercy now has Cinderella panties (courtesy of her Grandma) and Mercy tries very hard to “keep Cinderella’s dress dry so that she can go to the ball”

Past methods and motivations have included:

-singing a strange song with the refrain: “Potty, potty, potty by the pound” (I have no explanation here–this is Doug’s doing entirely. Something about a song from the movie Pete’s Dragon?)

-having her baby stroller “go potty” first (yes, I would actually hold the stroller over the toilet, make pee noises, and then “wipe” the stroller)

-purchasing a Sesame Street toilet insert covered with pics of Elmo, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch that she can talk to

These are just a few of the things we have employed in our efforts to teach and motivate our daughter.

As I found myself making the picture of Rachel Ray talk to my daughter this morning while “handing” her a cracker (we don’t even know who Rachel Ray is), I laughed at the absurdity of it all. I marveled at the lengths we are willing to go to to help our daughter figure this business out, and how we will stoop to whatever level speaks to her little two year old psyche. We have no pride anymore.

I thought too that, while crude, it is a reminder of how our Heavenly Father handles things with us. In my life, God has been exceedingly gracious in meeting me where I am and using those things that, however ridiculous or mundane or outright strange, speak to me to communicate his love and grace and glory. I know that we could do potty training by force and intimidation and punishment and likely see quicker results. And I am sure that God could bully me into submission. Yet God chooses to act without pride. For is the center of our salvation not the supreme “stooping down”?

And I confess that my discipleship, the daily conversion of my heart, my life-journey with Jesus, looks a lot more like the temperamental, inconsistent, accident-prone efforts of my little girl than any reasoned, disciplined effort I may imagine or wish it to be. We love to think of the ways God is “Daddy” to us, but we do well to consider what that same language and imagery suggest about us.


  1. I love this imagery. And I would kill to see Douglas sing that potty song. 🙂 The story of Mercy’s potty training and your efforts to encourage her kind – remind me of parenting, in general, being used to remind us of what’s truely necessary – things like patience, long suffering, smiles, and alot more patience. The superficial gets stripped down by truth and grace.

  2. -singing a strange song with the refrain: “Potty, potty, potty by the pound” (I have no explanation here–this is Doug’s doing entirely. Something about a song from the movie Pete’s Dragon?)

    An odd twist, to be sure, but I’m sure she’s referencing the story “Money, money, money by the pound” (yes, from Pete’s Dragon. The snake-oil doctor and his assistant are talking about all the cures that can be made from bits of dragon, and all the money they can make if they capture Elliot.)

    What can I say? I really like that song! 🙂

  3. Oh, we have yet to turn to the Purple Beast… But I won’t say that we could not be driven to that point!

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