Potty Training 101: Never Leave a Child Alone

All right, I lied. I said I’d update a few days ago. Sleep deprivation and a never ending to do list causes one to forget. Forgive me.

So potty training. Oh the joy of my job. I would have to say that I spend about 75% of my day in the bathroom urging kids to go potty and getting VERY excited when they actually go. If I got that excited in front of adults, they’d think I was crazy. Luckily I am surrounded by two year olds who enjoy my crazy. The beginning of my potty training venture began about two months after I became a toddler teacher. I was in the younger tot room where none of my kids were potty training–we were strictly diapers. Well I was changing a diaper one day and turned my attention to my other kids on the carpet and what did I see? One little girl, A, squatting on the carpet, pants and diaper down, PEEING. She was a talented one, able to squat-walk and pee at the same time. Somehow the pee stream missed her clothes. I still don’t know how she did it. But at the time I couldn’t stop her–I was mid-diaper change. All I could do was say, “A! Stop! What are you doing?!” To which she just smiled and continued her journey to perpetually stain the rug. Needless to say, that’s when the toddler rooms combined so all children could potty train.

This video cracks me up–her reaction is the best. This is exactly why you should never leave a child alone in the bathroom. I can’t tell you how many times I have to stop my kiddos from trying to “help” by dumping out the little potty chair out into the big potty. It’s nice that they want to help, but, STOP. Stop it now.

One time I had a little girl who needed to go potty, so I helped her onto the big potty and waited while I kept her in my sight. Unfortunately, one of my other kids started to have a meltdown so I had to leave her out of my sight for ten seconds–TEN SECONDS–to help him and then I returned to the potty. What I found was terrifying. The little girl had pooped and smeared it all over the wall and toilet. ALL OVER. The toilet was literally a brown mass of porcelain. I was horrified, yet impressed. One, how can so much poop come out of such a tiny thing? And two, ten seconds was an inordinately short amount of time to poop that much. More than anything, I was impressed with myself–my gag reflex did not engage. I had grown. From that day on, not much grosses me out anymore.

And don’t worry, there was a lot of bleach used in that bathroom once I cleaned up the little girl. I returned the toilet to its original color and scrubbed the wall until all evidence was gone. There was so much poop. So much.

And that is why you can’t leave kids alone in the bathroom. They’re impressive little things, but not every impressive thing they do will be cute. Poop’s not cute. Not cute at all.

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Stark Raving Naked

In the craziness that has been today–and that’s with only six kids. Tomorrow brings seven!–I am reminded of a time that was much crazier, wilder, and yet one of the funniest moments I’ve ever experienced in child care.

For those of you who don’t know state laws, legally I can only have seven toddlers by myself, which means ratio is 1:7. However, with two teachers, fourteen toddlers are allowed to grace us with their presence. FOURTEEN. (I’d like to question the sanity of whatever state employee made up this nonsense–have they ever worked at a daycare?!) So on the first day that the two toddler rooms were combined into one large toddler room–the reason of which I will touch on tomorrow in a post about potty training–it was a tad bit, well, zoo-likeI had come in at noon when the children were supposed to be in sleep mode, but what I walked in on was quite the opposite. These kids were so hyped up by being in one large room that NO ONE was going to sleep. Maybe one or two angels were asleep, but that left twelve other knee-highers to jump on their cots and run rampant around the room. I was worried. 

State law: Ratio drops when all children are on their cots at nap–1:14. That’s right. I could be left alone with fourteen children. 

So there I was. All alone with fourteen–okay maybe twelve–kids who were acting as if they’d all taken a shot of straight caffeine. I was about to pull my hair out. The one teacher who offered to stay to help me get them down left after a half hour–she did not do any good. She basically said, “See ya!” and booked it out of there as toddlers screamed their goodbye’s. I was close to tears. 

While I’m chasing down kids and laying them back down on their cots, others are jumping up and running around, laughing hysterically. I didn’t get the joke. I was sweaty and not happy that I had been abandoned. Honestly, I was stark, raving mad. As I was chasing one particularly ornery kid, I turned around to see a sight that instantly melted my frustration.

There, in the midst of all the cots and wild tots, stood little G–one of my favorite little girls–stark naked with a look of pure satisfaction on her face. 

I could not help but laugh, but then I quickly put clothes back on her. To this day I can’t help but think that she did that on purpose. She saw her teacher going nuts trying to contain her friends and decided to help out by making me laugh. And now, thanks to G, I have a great memory–and some ammo to embarrass her with when she gets older.

Kids notice everything, but I remember everything. 😉

The Lion King and Ice Packs

One of the joys of working with little ones is the sweet moments that happen–the moments that bring tears to your eyes and make you want to keep those kids from ever getting hurt by “the real world.”

Disney movies are big in my room–Finding Nemo (which we watched every day for three months straight. I’ve got it memorized.), Toy Story, Aladdin, you name it. One day we were watching The Lion King. My kids love this movie, but they’re not big fans of Scar or the hyenas, so I typically have to skip “the bad parts” for them. I myself do not like to watch the sad parts of any Disney movie–I try to skip all the death scenes. I was a bit busy with one of the kids when the saddest part of The Lion King started to play out–Mufasa’s death. As we watched Mufasa fall to his death, one of my little boys (we’ll call him C) jumped up and ran to our fridge, desperately trying to open the door. 

Me: What are you doing?

C: He has a boo-boo! He needs an ice pack!

It’s times like those that make me want to protect them from all the hurt in the world, the kind that can’t be healed by an ice pack. 

Kids–They Notice Everything

This cold, blustery, supposedly spring day in Ohio is making me wish that I had the power of time travel. I would love to go back to March of last year when it was warm and sunny.

Let’s face it, I had a reason to shave my legs then.

Speaking of shaving my legs, working as a tot teacher I don’t necessarily put a lot of effort into how I look. Of course I make sure that I don’t look like I just rolled out of bed–I put some effort into my appearance, but I’m not wearing fancy dress up clothes by any means. I get sneezed on, peed on, and occasionally licked on a daily basis; who wants to be in their best clothes for that? Comfort is key when you’re chasing after little ones all day who spew bodily fluids at you like it’s their job.

Anyways, back on topic. Not only do I not wear my dress clothes to work, but I do not always make it a point to keep my legs freshly shaved and baby smooth. I mean come on, only two year olds touch my legs. Who am I trying to impress? (Don’t judge me, I don’t walk around with Chewbacca legs.)

One day at work I was playing with this little boy who was two at the time–let’s call him T. He’s a handsome boy–blonde hair, blue eyes, and a mischievous little grin. We were just playing as usual and he happened to touch my leg. I had just shaved my legs the night before in lieu of the warm weather. T starts to rub my leg absentmindedly when he stops and looks at me and says,

“Ri got a haircut?”

Kids. They notice everything. Even when we don’t want them to.

Taking Out the Pacifier

It’s time for my metaphorical paci to come out. That’s right. I will no longer be silenced about what goes on in my toddler room. And oh so many things go on in there. Some funny, some adorable, some, well…gross. I’m about to lay it all out–no sugarcoating here. For those of you with squeamish tummies and sensitive gag reflexes, you may want to steer clear of any potty training tales. Those won’t be for you. But if you love a good heartwarming story about toddlers and the things they say or do, please stay! Just avert your eyes of any poop and dodge any rogue pee streams–I promise you’ll be fine.

In my years of experience as a toddler teacher there have been a lot of ups and downs. You really have to have a sense of humor when it comes to working with kids, especially toddlers. The terrible twos? Oh, they’re real. Very real. And so are the terrible one-and-a-halfs, almost-twos, and threes. Tantrums happen daily–often multiple times in a day–and it can be so draining trying to deal with all of that while taking care of five to seven kids at a time. Most of which are potty training. Draining, yes, but so rewarding.

I’m starting this blog to chronicle my experience in the hopes of one day publishing a book in the same name as this site–Confessions of a Toddler Teacher: The Pacifier Comes Out! Until my dream can be attained, I will regale you with tales from the toddler room–not to be confused with Tales from the Crypt. Toddlers can be scary, but not that scary.