Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul—Sir Francis Bacon
I bought a potty for my son before he turned a year old. It was one of the colorful, deluxe models with removable parts, a front-loading plastic bowl, and sure-grip sides. I'd been having glorious visions almost since I left the delivery room of my brilliant progeny fully trained and diaper-free by 18 months... heck, make that 15 months.
We'd be the envy of all my friends, whose deficient toddlers remained untrained at age two. I kept the commode in the closet for a few weeks, not wanting to place unrealistic expectations on my son. When I finally placed it, with much fanfare, in the bathroom, the child seemed delighted—he examined it closely, giggled and squealed while I beamed as I planned how to spend the money I'd save on diapers.
Over the next few months, however, the potty was transformed into a nagging symbol of intergenerational warfare. The first skirmish—over positioning—raged throughout the house and left me exhausted and demoralized. I would place the potty in the bathroom, only to return a few hours, minutes, or even seconds later to find it missing.
Soon thereafter, the potty's various parts would begin turning up in the closets, under my bed, in my husband's underwear drawer, in the backyard sandbox—even once floating in the birdbath. The bowl—the very heart of the contraption—was chewed on, colored on, used to collect toys, books, hairpins, even feminine hygiene products carelessly left within reach.
Something about the seat aroused my son's creative energies. Inexplicably, it elicited intricate crayon drawings and doubled as a playpen for his stuffed animals. As his strength, coordination, and intent grew, this fruit of my womb figured out how to fill the bowl from the bathtub; then he carried it around and slowly drained it in a trail of carpet—soaking spots. Eventually, despite my inadequate strategy, I won the battle by attrition. My son became bored.