Saturday, June 15, 2024

The stay-at-home dad: Crossroads at ‘No. 2’

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| September 19, 2020 1:00 AM

My 3-year-old son won’t poop in the toilet.

Now that I’ve scared away the majority of readers with the opening sentence, let’s dive into the problem. We’ve been trying for months to get my son to sit on the potty and do the “No. 2” business. No strategy works.

He is terrific at going “No. 1.” Like our other kids, we found success with potty training by rewarding every positive toilet encounter with a treat - usually a chocolate chip or a Skittle. After a week or two, the kid forgets about the treat and just enjoys the pleasures of walking around in dry pants.

No. 2 is a different story with our youngest. You would think the discomfort of a messed diaper would be motivating enough, but no. He’d rather just keep doing the business in the way he’s known for his entire existence.

Part of the problem is how he goes No. 2. He likes to stand in a corner and push it out. He doesn’t seem to know how to go sitting down.

But he also won’t go if he’s NOT wearing a diaper. If he’s just wearing pants or underwear, he absolutely won’t go. He needs something behind the plate, so to speak. He needs a reliable catcher, like a Joe Mauer or Ivan Rodriguez, but, you know, a diaper.

It gets to the point where he’ll ask for a diaper so he can just go. So we tell him, “If you have to poop, let’s go sit on the potty.”

Response: “No, no. I no need to poop.”

He really does, but like almost every other 3-year-old on the planet, stubbornness supersedes physical comfort.

He will hold that poop in for DAYS. He went five days straight last week without a BM. That can’t be healthy. If I go more than a day, it feels like taking a 98 mph fastball straight to the stomach (I’m obviously Major League Baseball crazy this week. Go Twins!).

He suffers through these poop strikes, too. After about a day, you can always tell when he’s getting cramps, because he begins to push on the bottom of his stomach (and lower parts) and say, “Ow, my penis!” I’m not sure why he says that… he uses that word correctly in every other instance, but the cramping pain must radiate around that area. It probably hurts because you keep pushing on it, little kid.

On day two, the “poop dances” begin. He holds his stomach, hops up and down, stomps in place, and gallops in a distinct figure-8 trajectory around the living room. He provides his own soundtrack for the ritual too, usually a series of “Ooooohs!” “Owws!” and, my favorite, a throaty combination of “oh, ho, hos” and “eeeeeeees!”

So we take him to the big potty. Or we stick his little training potty in the middle of our living room. I’ve sat with him on the edge of the bathtub for looooong periods of time, encouraging him and offering multiple chocolate chips, Skittles and new toys for even one teeny, tiny log. One time, I fed him Skittles while he sat on the toilet, thinking the sugar rush might help distract him from the pressure of going. The only thing that plopped into the toilet were a couple of wayward Skittles.

We’re at the point where we don’t want to see him be so uncomfortable. I mean, it’s also kind of annoying, as his poop cramp dance can really, umm, soil an otherwise delightful episode of “Cobra Kai.”

So, after a couple days, we usually just give him a diaper so he can stand in the corner of the room and do his business. I’m at a point where I might just invent a standing toilet… similar to a urinal, of course, but, you know, for the other thing. Maybe I’ll take it to “Shark Tank.”

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at