Potty training and the children’s unique gender differences

Child in toilet

A potty-trained toddler is more independent and well-adjusted.

Photo credit: File

I must have told you this already, the love from a boy baby hits much differently than love from a girl baby. At least that has been my personal experience as an urban mum. We have two children in our home: Muna is six, Njeeh is two.

The difference is their gender has been as distinctive as the rain is from the sunshine. 

Muna is a little me, bursting at the seams with feminine energy. There are things she does now at six, things she’ll say and I’ll think, ‘Oh, I remember doing that in class one.’ I empathise with her more because I’m also a girl. I know her language of love to be quality time and words of affirmation. Also acts of service and gifts. OK, and physical touch. 

You know what, her language is all the five languages of love. Goodness. My primary love language is words of affirmation. I like to be acknowledged and appreciated, I’m needy to that degree. 

I’m drawn to Njeeh’s masculine energy. He is the first little boy I’m engaging with, he is mysterious and alluring. I find myself going out of my way to please him and make him giggle. I really want him to like me. 

I don’t know yet what his language of love is but I lean more towards quality time and physical touch. I set Thursdays aside to spend time with him. He likes it when I rub his big box head and his chubby feet, feet that look as delicious as salted caramel cake. 

Milestones

I can’t tell his personality just yet but mothering him has been easier because I already know what to do – I’m neither winging it nor learning on the job. I anticipate and prepare, I wait for him at a milestone even before he knows there is a milestone up ahead.

I’ve experienced this difference in gender most distinctively in the last couple of weeks when we’ve been potty training. For those at the back who are yet to become parents, potty training is when you teach your little one how to pee and poop in the potty. 

Yes, it’s a learned skill, like everything in life is – you teach them how to use the toilet in the same way you were taught how to swim or hold a pencil.

A potty-trained toddler is more independent and well-adjusted. He also saves you money. Diapers in Uncle Willie’s economy cost quite a bit. A toddler like Njeeh goes through two and a half jumbo packs of diapers on average every month. That’s about 60 diapers, give or take. 

Potty training has been more relaxed, and more fun. I know not to stress Njeeh about it, forcing him to sit on the potty when he thinks it’s a toy for kicking around. Or like something that can bite him when he’s not looking. I knew he would take to it with ease in his own time. And he did. 

I miscalculated my approach because I hadn’t considered that he is a boy. Boys pee standing and hold their members while at it. They only sit when they are pooping. Duh! This seems obvious to me now but we started potty training weeks ago, it wasn’t as obvious.

I used to yank his trousers back up and his member would sometimes get caught in the waistband. He’d shriek out in discomfort, ‘Mummy, ouch!’ The poor thing.

Speaking of ‘ouch’ he discovered YouTube Kids about two months ago. I’m disappointed to inform you that he is now hooked to the bloody thing. I’m more disappointed that I introduced it to him myself. It was during the post-General Elections week – I was working from home, the Help was away and I had a newspaper deadline to beat.

I turned on YouTube Kids on my phone and placed him on his stomach on the couch. He remained unmoved for about two hours. I even thought at some point that he had fallen asleep. Well, he hadn’t. It was his first taste of the Internet and his brain lit up. 

He is as addicted to YouTube Kids as my generation is addicted to social media. The beauty of his new addiction is that his English vocabulary has tremendously expanded, he is now speaking words he wasn’t speaking two months ago. 

What fascinates me is that he is now combining his English and Kiswahili, his sentences now sound something like this, ‘Mummy, sit hapa.’ ‘Muna, open maziwa.’ ‘Dawa yucky!’ Pretty soon he’ll be singing those words that needy me has been craving to hear from him, ‘I like you. You are the best mama.’

@_craftit; [email protected]

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