I’ve decided that 2008 is going to be the Year of the Potty.  Elvis is going to be five in April, and I would like him to be using the toilet before then.  Dare I dream?  I do.  What’s more, I think where Elvis goes, Girlfriend will follow.  She’s only two, and that would make her a prodigy in our family–heck, in our family you’re a prodigy if you’re trained before age four–but she idolizes her big brother, and if he uses the potty, what options does she really have?  (Don’t answer that.)

The trick is making him think it’s his idea.  Historically I have not been good at tricking my children.  They’re pretty smart.  That’s the challenge of parenting, being smarter than the children.  I can’t win on stubborn, so I have to use my wits.  Think, Madhousewife.  Think think think.

Nothing’s coming.

We own a potty-training video–I Can Go Potty!–which my children have always enjoyed, but nevertheless have not found inspiring.  I’ve been thinking of replacing it with a video or book starring a beloved children’s show character–if I could only find one starring a character that my children are familiar with.  People rave about Bear in the Big Blue House’s (or is it Big Blue Bear in the House?) potty video, but my kids wouldn’t know that bear from Adam.  Does it make a difference?  Is Bear in the Big Blue House charismatic enough that my children could fall in love with him (and by extension, the toilet) at first sight?  Various Sesame Street characters have starred in potty-training books.  My kids know some of the Sesame Street characters, but I wouldn’t bet on them finding Ernie or Elmo compelling in that particular role. 

Actually, the characters that the youngest two are most endeared to are Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine.  I heard that Barney had a potty video, but I haven’t been able to locate it on the interwebs.  (I have found YouTube videos of “Barney taking a dump.”  I don’t know if that would be as effective or not…but there are still some places I’m not ready to go.)  I’m thinking that Thomas the Tank Engine and his engine friends do not use the potty.  You know, what with them being trains and all.  Sir Topham Hatt is theoretically capable of using the potty, but such behavior seems somewhat out of character for him.  And there are no Thomas the Tank Engine potty videos, so I need to just get off this track.  Ha ha, get it?  Track?  Never mind.

There is a Thomas the Tank Engine potty seat on Amazon.com, but it’s the First Years brand, and I’ve owned two First Years potty seats and really don’t care for them.  (I think we lost both in the fire.)  And I’d rather not pay $23.99 for something I don’t care for, especially since it’s just a Thomas sticker on the back of a regular First Years potty chair.  If it were a potty shaped like a train, that would be different.  Which makes me wonder, why hasn’t anyone made a potty shaped like a train?  They could pee in the boiler and poop in the tender.  It is really just wrong for me to talk about this.  Do you know that in the house I grew up in, nobody even used words like “pee” and “poop”?  I have no recollection of how we referred to those activities.  We all learned to use the toilet, so we must have talked about it at some point, but my mother had a strong gag reflex, and it just wasn’t kosher to discuss bodily functions in many venues.  Certainly not at the dinner table, which is where my husband and children like to discuss bodily functions.  My children are very, very fond of talking about toilets and toilet activities.  They think it’s hysterical.  I keep telling them they should be doers of the word and not hearers only, but they don’t like when I push my religion on them. 

So I was looking online for other, non-First Years potty chairs, and it’s a somewhat daunting task.  There are approximately 400 to choose from–including this “fancy potty chair” by Little Colorado.  It’s made of resilient Baltic Birch and has armrests and a built-in bookrack and toilet paper holder.  It can be mine for $70.99, plus $9.99 shipping and handling.  I think my first couch cost less than that.

There’s also a musical potty chair (Ababy, $64.95), a hand-painted “western” potty chair (Ababy, $68.95), and a toddler urinal (Visionaire, $39.19).  The urinal is a nice concept, but I have to tell you, it does not look stable to me.  I value stability in something that is supposed to collect my child’s urine.  That’s all I’m saying.  Evenflo makes this so-called “magic potty” ($41.88).  I’m not sure how to describe it.  It looks like it’s supposed to be some space-themed…”hover”-potty.  I dunno.  That doesn’t look so stable, either.  And when someone uses the word “magic” and “potty” in the same breath, I expect to be paying more than $41.88, or probably I am getting ripped off. 

On the more economical side of things, there’s the PRIMO Bunny potty ($9.99).  It’s a bright yellow bunny that looks kind of like a riding toy (handlebars yes, wheels no), and the bunny is sticking out his bright red tongue.  Huh.  I don’t get it.  If I wanted to be (extra-)narcissistic in a really weird way, I could go with the “Buddy Giraffe” toilet decoration (Jeckida Inc., $13.99), but just looking at it makes me a little upset.

Then there’s the Teamson “lighthouse” potty ($59.95).  What, for my great-aunt who collects them?  I wasn’t aware that lighthouses were a great motivator for the under-three set.

Which brings up another point.  Technically, Elvis’s nearly-five-year-old bum is big enough to use the actual potty–and really too big to use most potty chairs, which seem to be designed for infants under twelve months.  Go figure.  (Did the potty-chair industry not get the memo on childhood obesity?  They really need to step it up!)  But big kids can be afraid of the big potty, too.  So where’s my school-age Thomas the Tank Engine potty chair shaped like a train?  Must I really do everything myself?

In other news, Elvis has lately grown very fond of fire hydrants.  We have a lot of fire hydrants in our city.  I know, because every time we pass one, he says, “Hydrant!  It’s yellow!”  There’s a potty-chair idea here that I’m not fully comfortable exploring at this time, but perhaps at a later date.  Elvis has also taken to dressing up in his father’s clothes–which is better than him dressing in my clothes, I guess.  If only he would strive to emulate his father in other areas.  Toilet use, for example.  His father loves using the toilet.  Why did none of those genes pass along?  I’m just wondering.

On that note, I think I will go make lunch.