A friend came by this evening for a visit. Amelia was running around naked from the waist down because this is my specialized technique for potty training. But in order to respect the fact that not everyone is as comfortable with naked toddlers, I put a diaper on my daughter shortly after their arrival. A few minutes later, my friend asked, "So I guess Amelia is potty trained...?"
And I grinned.
How does one answer that?
The short answer is: no.
The long answer is: Amelia is somewhere on the continuum of toilet training. In fact, it's not really a continuum. It's a patchwork of states that aren't in any particular order and that not all children experience.
Somewhere at the beginning is the state of I-wear-diapers-all-the-live-long-day. And at the far other end is I-can-make-all-of-my-bodily-wastes-exit-my-body-directly-into-a-toilet. (We won't even mention the I've-have-multiple-babies-and-have-to-squeeze-my-thighs-together-tight-when-I-laugh-really-hard state). And in the middle is a smattering of experiences that don't get talked about very much.
There's the If-you-put-me-on-the-potty-in-front-of-a-two-hour-Disney-movie,-I-will-eventually-have-a-bowel-movement-and-will-delight-in-a-Smartie-reward state.
There's the When-no-one's-looking,-I-unravel-the-toilet-paper-roll-and-try-to-flush-the-entire-ribbony-mess-down-the-toilet state.
There's also the I-can-pee-on-the-potty-but-the-idea-of-a-free-fall-bowel-movement-is-terrifying!
There's I-can-make-unlimited-pebbly-poops-appear-in-order-to-get-out-of-bedtime state.
There's the I'm-mostly-toilet-trained-but-my-parents-don't-trust-me-enough-to-take-my-diaper-off-for-car-rides.
There's the I'm-mostly-toilet-trained-but-my-parents-don't-trust-me-enough-to-take-my-diaper-off-in-sub-zero-winter-weather.
There's the I-sleep-in-pull-ups-and-my-bed-has-waterproof-sheets.
There's the I-sleep-in underwear-and-my-bed-has-waterproof-sheets.
There's the I-have-to-sit-on-an-old-towel-whenever-I-watch-cartoons-on-the-couch.
There's the I-can-hold-a-poop-in-for-an-entire-day-at-preschool-as-a-feat-of-incredible-mind-over-matter.
And there's also the I-take-a-bit-of-medicine-to-help-me-poop-but-my-daddy-has-to-make-sure-to-get-the-dosage-right state.
And don't even get me started on the gradual release of responsibility surrounding letting a kid wipe their own ass. Because sometimes you want to instill a sense of independence. And sometimes it just feels like, well, you know the old adage, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself!"
So, is my daughter in the process of being toilet-trained? I guess so.
She's somewhere between I-wear-a-diaper-in-the-sandbox and My-mother-buys-underwear-that-are-cute-enough-to-be-enticing-but-cheap-enough-that-she-can-throw-a-pair-out-a-week-and-not-break-the-bank. She's at the At-home-I-am-naked-more-often-than-I-am-dressed state and also the I-wear-diapers-at-grandma's-because-there's-new-carpet state. Not to mention the We-need-an-extra-hamper-on-the-main-floor state.
But that's okay.
Because toilet training is a process.
And there's no point in crying over spilled.... well.... you know.