Potty Training, Penises, & Pinot Grigio

by Shannon Hembree on July 19, 2012

I’ve always heard that potty training girls is easier than potty training boys. As I understand it, the rationale is that the primary caregiver is typically the mom, so girls are exposed to watching someone of their gender pee more frequently than boys see someone of their gender pee.

I am here today to pee all over this rationale. It’s not about role-modeling; it’s about penises.

Have you ever seen little boys with their penises? They are fascinated by them. They love to touch them. All the time. Have you ever noticed how easily distracted toddlers are regardless of their gender? Add those two things together, and it is a recipe for Clorox wipes and laundry. Every day. Sometimes every hour.

Little girls are different. You sit them down on the potty, and chances are, if they go, they are going to hit the target. You sit little boys down on the potty, and you are constantly saying, “Aim down!” or maybe you use, “Make bubbles in the water!” or how about, “Press the button!”

All of these are great in theory, but they fly out the window the minute there is any sort of distraction. They will be aiming down and concentrating really hard on the task at hand, and then they’ll hear the phone ring in the other room and look up to see what is going on. Before you know it, there is a trail of pee from the toilet to the sink.

Or maybe you are the more adventurous type and went straight for the stand-while-you-pee scenario. How did that go for you? Not so well here. First off, that’s a tough assist. Second, any position where they have the ability to walk around, turn around, or step back is – in my opinion – about as safe as going into a bakery right after you join Weight Watchers. Imagine if you will, they are peeing successfully in the toilet. A sibling knocks on the door. The peeing toddler turns quickly to see what the noise was. Bring on the Clorox wipes.

We have the added bonus in our house of having two penises to train. They don’t really put anything about that in the twin pregnancy books. Maybe because it would have given us a heart attack. Okay, that’s not true. At that point, we were so scared of the thought of giving birth to twins and being up in the middle of the night with newborn twins that something as far off as potty training never crossed our minds.

It should have. Potty training twins is a whole other level of crazy. Recent scenarios in our house have gone a little something like this:


The elder (by a minute or two) twin pees on the floor. Like a singleton, he is a bit startled. The look on his face reads, “What just happened? What should I do?”

The younger twin sees what has happened and starts laughing hysterically and pointing.

The elder twin – my initial pee-on-the-floor offender – gets a huge smile on his face and starts laughing as well.

The younger twin pees on the floor in a glorious imitation of his older brother and starts to dance in it.

Both boys are laughing hysterically and dancing in their own personal puddle of pee.

I write a heartfelt love letter to the creator of Clorox wipes.


My elder twin shouts, “Me need to pee!”

I rush him to the potty and get him situated.

The other twin shouts, “Me need to pee!”

I tell still-has-to-pee twin that he has to either use the potty upstairs or wait for two seconds (this is said largely in a begging tone with emphasis on the fact that it really will only be two seconds, since his brother is already peeing).

There is a brief pause during which I do not breathe at all for fear of jinxing it.

Still-has-to-pee twin shouts from directly behind me, “Me peeing!”

I write another love letter to the creator of Clorox wipes. I may – may, mind you – offer to prostitute myself for a lifetime supply of said wipes.

So to sum up: Potty training is easier for girls, because they do not have a penis. Unless it is harder for girls, because they often have that thirst for drama and a stubborn streak that puts Hollywood starlets to shame. Unless it is harder if you have twins, because that is a whole other level of wine consumption. Unless it is harder if you have triplets, because I don’t even know where to go with that. Potty training sucks.

Shannon Hembree is a stay-at-home mom of a kindergartner and twin toddlers. She will need to return to a paying job in the near future so she can afford vast amounts of toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and wine. You can follow her on Twitter @Shannon1Hembree.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan July 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

Laughing hysterically over here. My story- Boy trains easily before age 2.5. Girl comes along next. Girls are supposed to be easier. #2 is supposed to be easier because she wants to go on the potty and wear big kid pants like #1, right? Wrong. She’s 3 and we are still struggling after being in underwear for 3 months. She doesn’t care about wearing big kid pants or going on the potty to be like her big bro. She does want a penis so she can be like him, though.


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

Ha ha — we did actually have a tougher time with our daughter in terms of her taking to it. Our pitfalls with the boy thing are a) when one goes downhill the other follows with glee, and b) the mess with boys is amazing…and it is constant. In fact, not five minutes ago, the elder twin came to me in an excited twirl to shout about his brother, “He peeded on the floor in bathroom!”


Farrah July 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

I am so glad that you are paving this way for me. I will be holding you as my personal potty training coach when we are ready to go. Please get that manual ready for publication!


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 8:30 am

Ha ha — I will tell you that the boys wanted to start potty training earlier than we did. They asked several times, and I said no. This goes against all the potty training manuals by the way. It did, however, ensure that they were at least somewhat ready for the process and that it happened on their timeline rather than mine. I think that has been key for us. And when you’re ready…ask away with your questions!


Laura H. July 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’ve always said that potty-training a kid ranks up there with passing the bar exam in my list of life’s accomplishments. It’s that bad. We are fans of the “run around buck naked for 4 days” method of potty-training (3 boys). And I hate to say it, but we were big on going potty outside–it’s novel, it was in our backyard, who cares? However, our 3rd son was completely potty trained BY HIS TEACHERS at the Montessori School. So totally worth the tuition, btw. 🙂


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

Um…yes…the boys run around in their underwear all day long. It really is the way to go — except when someone comes to your door unexpectedly. Then it’s just embarrassing. And we have also answered the call of nature…while out in nature…the boys think that is the height of fun 😉


Neighbor Lady July 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

Unfortunately I think the attention thing doesn’t go away. Neighbor boy was telling me a story while peeing this morning and I had to remind him more than once to focus on what he was doing.

But here is something a friend of mine did during potty training . . . put something in the toilet that they can aim at to see if they can hit it. I . . . I mean, my friend . . . used M&M’s, raisins, something little and flushable. Makes it fun for them, keeps the attention focused on the target (i.e. the toilet) and reduces the use of Clorox wipes. And hey, with twins you can turn it into a contest – who can drown the M&M first?


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 9:47 am

Neighbor lady, I am intrigued by the mysterious identity you have cloaked yourself in…

I think the touching themselves doesn’t go away either, but I digress 😉

Love the idea of the target – and will give it a try! I don’t think I can make it a contest though — I anticipate them shoving each other out of the way in an attempt to a) be first, and b) just because that is what they do….just another day here…


Tracy Winslow July 19, 2012 at 10:43 am

My older daughter was a dream to potty train. Although she insisted on wearing just her ‘”big girl panties” and her frog rain boots throughout the process. Which, actually worked in the opposite manner than what they were designed for (although easy to hose off). My baby has just decided “Me not pee pee in potty” and just takes her diaper off and then “spills” where ever the mood strikes. Which is just awesome. Thank God for hardwoods and Clorox.


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 11:14 am

My daughter was actually a huge challenge in this department. In the midst of potty training, I went into the hospital for a month and a half of bedrest with the twins and we moved into a new house. Not the best timing in retrospect. Major regression issues. With the boys I put it off as long as possible. And yes, love love love the Clorox wipes 😉


Kiki Larue July 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I have got to get me some Clorox Wipes.


Kiki July 22, 2012 at 7:46 am

I can also vouch for the generic brand at Safeway — the economy size is much cheaper and just as effective!


Kiki Larue July 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

Good to know. Thanks. I am buying some today


Kiki Larue July 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Most of our house is carpet so I am the beat up looking lady constantly wondering around the house dragging our enormous carpet shampooer everywhere. Best purchase ever by the way.


Kiki July 22, 2012 at 7:45 am

I wholeheartedly agree on the carpet cleaner! We bought one for under $100 and have used it countless times. It has washed away everything from juice spills to potty accidents. It was worth every penny!


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