As my youngest takes a much-needed nap, I feel compelled to lay next to him for a while. With each passing day, a phase of our lives as parents to newborns-toddlers-preschoolers wanes and, for all the excitement of what lies ahead, there is also a sadness of letting go of the chaos with all its imperfect beauty.
Our parenting style evolved significantly from the time of our first child to the time of our third child. We were not only more relaxed but also more distracted as we now had three kids who are much more mobile and active. One great example of the drastic difference is how the toilet training process went.
When our daughter was learning, we organized playdates with other girls the same age and we had a baby sitter to help as all three girls would line up to take scheduled potty breaks together. We had star charts and videos and books and pretty purple princess pull-ups for a total immersion into the process.
In contrast, recently my wife and I were in the kitchen trying to get dinner ready when we see our third child walking naked down the hall with something in his hands. Out of morbid curiosity, we stop what we’re doing to follow him. He walks into the bathroom and we realize that he’s been carrying is his portable plastic potty. He puts it down on the floor, opens the toilet seat, picks up the plastic potty and dumps his pee and poo into the toilet and flushes it. He then goes to the sink to wash his hands and then he takes his step stool over to the pantry to get himself a treat.
As he goes back to play, we realize that our child has potty trained himself without us and the only thought that goes through our heads is whether or not we should make him put some clothes on.