November 2020

Cora Rose decided to try toilet training, a few months ago. Her sister uses the toilet and she is fully capable of using it, if she chooses. Since she hates having her diaper changed we encourage her to use the toilet instead. Her sister was strongly motivated by stickers, and Annie’s sticker chart was an integral part of her toilet training; Cora Rose likes stickers, but not as much as her sister. So we found a better reward.

“Since you had a pee on the toilet, you get to wash your hands!” I say.

Her face lights up with happiness and a look of determination. She squares her stool in front of the sink and climbs up. “I have joms,” she says. “I need to wash them.”

“Yes, since you had a pee on the toilet, you have germs,” I agree.

“Wash the joms,” she explains, turning on the water, and fiddling around with the soap. When she pees in her diaper, the rule is, she doesn’t have germs on her hands so she doesn’t get to wash them.

Sometimes Annie will use the bathroom, and then wash her hands, which is very difficult for Cora Rose to watch.

“I have joms too,” she will explain.

“No, you didn’t pee in the potty,” I’ll explain. “So you don’t have germs.”

“PATENDING joms,” she will say, doing the toddler equivalent of an eye roll.

“If you are pretending to have germs, then you can pretend to wash your hands,” I will say calmly, and then I will demonstrate, turning on a pretend faucet and rubbing my hands together.

Cora Rose generally gives up arguing at this point, and climbs up on her stool anyway to watch her hands. Annie, who is very slow-moving, is usually still up there.

“Corrrraaaaa!” Annie will say, in an exasperated whine. “Get off the stool! I was here first! Corrraaa! Mommy! Mommy, she’s climbing on the stool but I am still washing my hands! Get off, Cora!”  And then Annie will dissolve into tears.

Cora knows that the only way to have a chance at washing the joms is to ignore both her mother and her sister, so she does, shoving her sister out of the way and pretending not to hear the whining and crying. She sticks her little hands into the water for a second or two before I grab her and put her on the ground, where she screams and twists away and arches her back. Annie continues to make little irritated whining noises while she finishes washing her hands. I briefly consider leaving both of them and trying to hide somewhere. But I know they would find me.