Only child, 3.
When potty training, parents often turn to bribery.
As far as I know, this is not an illegal parenting strategy. Both sides understand that an incentive is needed; the only thing in question is the point of value. In my oldest daughter’s case, it was simple. When she reached this phase of her toddlerhood, she became fascinated with the idea of wearing underwear or – as the bribe became known at our house – big girl panties.
“When you learn to go like a big girl, you can wear big girl panties,” my wife and I would say with bright, happy faces.
“I want Beauty & the Beast,” she’d say.
The big day finally arrived; she was officially potty-trained. Not a moment too soon, either. My wife was well into her second pregnancy and the thought of trying to accomplish potty training while also caring for a newborn was anything but appealing. So, to celebrate her new status, we headed out to the big girl panty store. A bribe is a bribe, after all.
When we got to the store, we walked straight to the undergarment section and there they were; dozens and dozens and dozens of kids underwear choices. Fortunately, we knew exactly what we came for.
“Beauty & the Beast”, I said, holding up a pair of underwear about the size of something I mistakenly ran through the dryer. She was at the other end of the aisle, wide-eyed at the possibilities.
“Dalmatians!” she announced.
“Hey, Beauty & the Beast,” I tried again.
For some reason, I thought this would be a quick, little shopping excursion. I tried steering her towards a more traditional choice.
“Blue: your favorite color.”
“Dad, look: Aladdin!” It felt like it was going to be a long day.
An older woman was shopping across the aisle from us and she smiled at this sweet little father-daughter scene.
“Is Daddy letting you pick out your own?” she asked.
My three year old stood proudly and said, “I wear big girl panties.”
“You have a beautiful daughter,” the woman said to me and she started towards the front of the store.
When she got about halfway down the main aisle, the woman turned to look back and caught my daughter’s eye. She lifted her hand to her cheek, smiled, and gave my daughter a mini-wave good-bye.
Immediately, my potty-trained-panty-shopper stepped out in the aisle and shouted, “My daddy wears big girl panties, too!”
The woman and I locked eyes for an uncomfortably long moment while she scolded me with a confused look.
I quickly grabbed one of everything from the Disney catalogue, shuttled my daughter to the check-out, and we left the store – before the authorities arrived.
Sorry – got to go. More later.