Thank Goodness For Rain: A Potty Training Story

big boy, big girl, big kid, bribery, diapers, done with diapers, outside, potty, potty training, pull ups, rewards, underwear

My son was three-and-a-half years old when people like my mom, my sister, my friends, and a short-term (rather judgey) child-care provider hinted that it was about time he learned to use the potty. Easy for them to say. They didn’t realize how stubborn and strong-willed this child is! But, I had to agree. He seemed more than ready. Our family had been through a difficult family illness, so we’d waited to potty train until things were more settled. So, it was now or never.

So, I purchased underwear, Pull-ups and prepped the kid’s potty we’d had for nearly a year. Enthusiastically, I explained to my son that he was a big boy and big boys use potties. 

He stared at me and said, “No,” then walked away.

But, what about this awesome underwear? Ooooo…look it has Cars cars on it!

“No! I don’t want underwear!”

Oh, boy. 

Fast forward thirty minutes and both of us were laying on the living room floor angry and upset. My son was still in a diaper and I was in a heap of frustrated tears. He refused to even look at the potty let alone sit on it.

We tried again a few days later with the same result. And, again.

Finally, I resorted to the elimination strategy. Our backyard was surrounded by a 6′ privacy fence, so I took my son to the backyard with nothing but a t-shirt on. If he had to go he could just go. He seemed surprised when he went potty for the first time but soon, he figured out how his body worked. Finally, I figured he’d be ready for the potty. After two days of outside potty time, we stayed inside.

Nope. He still wanted nothing to do with the potty or underwear, so we went back outside. For two more days, we hung out in the backyard. My son would pee. I’d rejoice. Still no potty or underwear. 

But, then, he went #2. Outside. In the yard. Even though I grew up on a farm, I had never experienced anything as gross as cleaning up a preschooler #2 with a hose. Lord, have mercy. We had to figure this out! 

So, we resorted to bribery. We promised him toys if he would go on the potty, but no toys did the trick until he saw Transformers figures at a store. We brought one home and sure enough, he finally sat and went potty on the potty. But, with one caveat: it still had to be outside.

He’d gotten so used to the idea of going potty outside that he refused to go inside! Ah! And, since our bribery tactic, he would only go potty on the potty outside if we got another Transformer figure EACH TIME.

Please, people, don’t judge us. We were desperate. Desperate, I tell you! I’m not sure exactly how much money we spent on Transformer figures, but it might have been enough to pay for his college education. That’s if he were inside potty trained by the time college rolled around.

So, now we had a son who would only go:

-on the kid’s potty


-surrounded by his myriad of Transformers.


The good news was he was now able to control his bladder and bowels. If he had to go he’d tell us he needed to go outside or stand by the door and whine. Oh, it sounds so awful when I tell it, but we’d potty trained our puppy kid quite well.

How in the world were we gonna get out of this and get our son to go inside? Well, if he was going to act like a puppy, I’d do what I’d do with a puppy. I began to move his potty closer and closer to the door with the hopes that I’d eventually get it inside. 

It worked up to the point of getting the potty to the fence door. He’d go no further. But, then, thank God for rain. An all-day soaker kind of rain. When my son came to me and told me he had to go potty, I walked him to the door and opened it.

“But, it’s raining,” he said.

“Well, if you wanna go potty outside then you’ll have to go in the rain.”

Of course, he threw a fit, but after about 20 minutes he finally relented. “I’ll go inside,” he said as he whimpered. With more excitement than Christmas morning, I snatched up that little potty and brought it inside.

Hallelujah! It took us a few more weeks to iron out the kinks, but sure enough, my son had learned to go on the potty. Inside. When it was all said and done, I figured it had been a great learning lesson and that it would only make potty training my next child all the easier.

Yeah, right. But that’s a story for another day.

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