Pea, Pee, Pipi and where it all comes from

There is much debate on when one should start potty training. I have some friends… well a friend who have successfully used “elimination communication” -though I’ll suggest lovingly that she has too much time on her hands to friends who say don’t even bother trying until your child is two and a half. This post isn’t to debate this but the role language plays.

What I realized is that in order for me to consider even starting the potty training process, my daughter needed to be able to put words to it. One could argue that signs would have also worked and given our success using them for other things, I might have pushed this a bit more.

Pacifique (aka Pea) was definitely slow to talk; many say it is because she is being brought up in a trilingual household and this may or may not be true. When she finally did start speaking and body parts and functions entered our terribly limited conversations -if you could even call them that- I quickly realized that she wasn’t differentiating between her ‘bits” and what came out of them.

She would gleefully shout Pipi Pipi to which I would then wonder “do I ask her if she needs to go or has she gone?”. By the time I would whisk off her diaper and realize she was just rejoicing in her newly discovered vagina and the act of peeing couldn’t be further from her mind. Soon after I figured out that Pipi was also being used by her to describe her bum and basically anything related to this area. This was going to be a problem.

After I finally decided on what to call the bits and I wont go into my indecisiveness which no doubt added to her confusion, I tried to focus the words on the acts themselves – in my case the french expression to go “Pipi et Popo”. It became immediately apparent that she then started using Pipi to describe the act of pooping which of course should be Popo. SIGH. So my next idea was to ascribe colors to the acts.

“Ma cherie, le pipi est jaune et le popo est marron” (Pee is yellow, poop is brown) was often heard in our household to which she would reply “pipi, popo, pipi marron, pipi marron”. What can I say, she was obsessed with the fact that Pipi was actually poop and was brown.

This persisted for WEEKS until, I couldn’t believe it, a breakthrough just before her new sister was born when she very matter of fact turned to me on one bathroom expedition and said “pipi amarillo, popo marron” or pipi yellow, poo brown!! I might have fallen over but fortunately I was sitting on the loo.

Things seemed to be finally turning around until her sister was born and she peered into Claude’s newborn diaper and looked at me and said.. accurately ” popo amarillo!” Sigh. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

To anyone without kids yet, newborn breast fed babies have mustard yellow poop. Toilet training can wait just a bit longer and when we do start, I want a potty like the one below.

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