Try as I might, I have been utterly unable to distance myself from the Parenting Olympics. By this I mean the 'my baby's better than your baby' because s/he walked/talked/went to University earlier than yours thing, and the inference that because of the above I am a better parent/person than you.
I've been on both sides of it. Friends were agog when T got onto all fours and crawled at just over five months old. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intensely proud, and of course I didn't keep it to myself. Conversely, I more or less hid in the house when, for more than a month after starting to walk properly, he went back to his much loved crawling and resolutely refused to get to his feet again as his friends toddler happily around him. My exclusively breastfed baby piled on the weight in the early days, often more than a pound a week, turning mums of skinny minnies green with envy. Of course this came back to bite me on the bum when, between four and twelve months, he failed to put on more than a pound in total!
Try as I might to embrace the 'they'll do it when they're ready' mantra, there's nothing that makes you (by this I mean me of course) feel worse than a raised eyebrow at baby group when you say no little Johnny or Jimmy isn't sleeping through the night/cooking his own meals/solving sudoku's yet.
I thought I'd more or less passed the Baby Olympics stage though. T's NCT peers are all walking, and talking at about the same level. I'm quite happy being neither exceptional nor lagging behind. But there's something big and scary looming on the horizon, and like feeding, sleeping and even how many layers your baby is wearing, it's something everyone seems to have an opinion on. I'm talking potty training of course.
Now I'm being sensible about this. Come October I'm going to be changing lots, and lots, of nappies. I know toddlers have a tendency to take a step backwards, reminding you that they were the first baby here you know, once a younger sibling arrives, and T isn't even two until the end of September. I don't know what posessed me then to pick up a couple of luridly coloured potties on a trip to IKEA a few months ago.
Pick them up I did though, and they've sat there, mainly being used as hats/storage containers for toy trains/trip hazards to barefooted parents for more than a few weeks. That all changed thanks to Gabriella though. One of T's nursery cohorts (whom he endearingly refers to as 'babby') she's trained over the last month or so, and sits on the potty during the toddler room's regular 'nappy change' periods. Not one to miss out on a bit of one on one with his favourite girl, T has been asking to sit on the pot alongside her, and of course, is learning what it's for. Last week we had our first 'at home' potty wee. I did have a little glow of pride, until he put his hands in it and wiped them on me afterwards.
All this has made me wonder whether I should be rethinking the issue and planning to train T properly before the new baby arrives. I even wonder whether he might force my hand. Fighting to put his nappies on has become more and more of a strain, although he's always loved a bit of running about naked time, and he's started to remove wet and dirty ones himself if I don't have chance to get to them first. I have to admit that I've actually no idea how the whole things works, and the thought of days without leaving the house whilst he gets the hang of it fills me with dread.
This afternoon, after our music class, I took T to the library for a bit of distraction. The children's area is bright, with a small table and chairs, puzzles, floor cushions and accessible book cases for littlies to choose their own reads. There are also a selection of Bumbo seats. The library doubles up as HQ for the local Children's Centre and mums are encouraged to bring babes in arms from a very young age to foster a life long love of books. So far so good.
T was quiet. I'd left him pulling the dinosaurs out of an ELC wooden peg puzzle, and was rooting in the book bins to find a decent bedtime story. Then I heard a squeal. 'Mummy. Wee wee!' I looked up. T had pulled down his shorts and wedged himself into one of the Bumbo seats. He was in the process of undoing the velcro tabs on his nappy as I raced over to him and quickly explained that although they did look a little bit like a potty, those are actually chairs for little babies and not toilets for big ones! At that precise moment my mobile phone started to ring from the bottom of my bag, under a collection of Tesco shopping and the assorted accoutrements that make life with a small person more bearable. The librarians who had been watching my attempts to extricate T from the seat and dress him quickly with interest, now tutted loudly. Red with shame, I shoved T under one arm and (bag still ringing) headed swiftly for the exit.
Ignoring the fact I might not be able to show my face in the library again for a little while, today's fun reinforced that I might actually have to potty train on T's schedule, whether I'm ready or not. And, having looked carefully at both a Bumbo and his Ikea potty. Can you really blame him for getting confused? I am!