Finn was potty trained in one day. We had introduced the boys to the concept one weekend at the mountain house where a trip to Target and creative application of ear plugs and masking tape resulted in 2 anatomically correct cabbage patch kids. Sleight of hand, assisted by a squirting water bottle and crumbled brownies, gave these dolls human functions, primarily the ability to use the toilet. This bathroom pantomime required no command performance for Connor. Already a high achiever, he practiced and learned from accidents and by summer’s end, was ready to advance up to a diaper-free classroom at preschool. Finn was less interested. He rather liked making bubbles in the toilet with his brother, but had no desire to sit down on the contraption. He was sincere in his admiration for Connor’s new skill, but who would want to touch the toilet with their bare bottom?
The book I had read to prepare for twins had recommended keeping them together; Psychologically and cognitively, twins do better when their mirror image is close enough to interact and exchange ideas so it was imperative that Finn move up in preschool with his brother. Thinking outside the box, and perhaps killing two birds with one stone, I asked my husband if I could incentivize potty training by rewarding success with Star Wars toys. Understand that I am not a Star Wars fan, but my husband is and while I entered into marriage with very little personal effects, my husband entered with bins and boxes and bags of Star Wars collectibles that I attempted to organize and store. I dreamed of garage sales and longed for “Clean House” to put an end this clutter. I was drowning in simplistic plots and bad dialogue made into plastic idols for the masses. Maybe we could give some of daddy’s “toys” to our kids rather than waiting to be made rich by over-prolific marketing strategies. To my surprise, my husband did not dismiss my idea, rather he limited the toys that could be separated from their packaging to those acquired at Taco Bell or Burger King. It was fine to break out the happy meal toys, but the licensed, trademarked action figures that actually cost money might still send our kids to college.
Small victories. I had the foresight to separate the fast-food toys from the rest and was storing them in a bin of their own. I opened it up and chose a few interesting baubles, and called the kids down to hear my spiel. The plan was that if Finn sat on the potty and went number two, all three of my kids would get a Star Wars toy. Motivation for Anya and Connor to stay engaged and support Finn in his potty journey. As expected, the kids were excited , so I brought the whole bin of toys out and let them peruse their plunder. It took about two seconds for Connor and Anya to begin asking Finn if he needed to go potty and encouraging him to give it a try. Convinced, Finn took off all of his clothes, perched naked on the toilet seat and proceeded to make his first big boy poopy ever. Success! Everyone cheered and the kids clamored to pick from the bin of toys.
I was glad my idea had met with triumph and proud of Finn for taking this big step. I was not prepared for the rest of the day’s events however. The kids had seen the toy bin. It held years of prizes from multiple movies and various plot lines. Who could be satisfied with just one item? To my surprise, the morning’s efforts were repeated a total of five times throughout the day. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been a witness, but with very little coaxing, and no unusual foods or drinks, Finn was able to score a total of 5 toys each for he and his siblings. I wondered at the sincerity of Finn’s new attitude towards bathroom habits. Had we been mistaken to use such rewards? Would he need a Star Wars toy every time he went for the rest of his life? I am happy to say, 9 years later that Finn is a healthy and well-adjusted kid who prefers the privacy of a stall in public venues, but otherwise has no unusual proclivities around his bathroom habits. He is a Star Wars fan, however, and may one day use the collection he has amassed to potty train his own son.