Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Waste not ... a drop of waste


All hail, the person who invented the disposable nappy.

In my case, a double thumbs up on top of that to the person who invented biodegradable disposable nappies.

Despite great modern products though, nappy changing is a disgusting job at the best of times.

However, at the moment it seems infinitely better than attempting toilet training, which I have made some half-hearted steps toward.

I don't want to appear too keen. Whenever that happens, I can kiss goodbye any cooperation of the part of my toddler son.

Ok, so he's 2.5 years, and inching toward that magic mean of 36 - 37 months, which is supposedly the average age boys start using a potty or toilet.

For girls it's more like 34 months.

Slowly but surely his collection of potty-related paraphernalia has grown.

We've brought him the books about big boys using potties, he has a turtle potty and a light blue spotted number. He has a padded seat with ducks on it to throw on the toilet when the time comes.

His drawers are filled with Thomas knickers (which he currently wears over his nappies) and other colourful "big boy" pants.

He has stickers and star charts, and he can recite the list of "tweets" (treats) he's due when he finally cracks it - a trip to Butterfly Creek and a chocolate bar are amongst the long (and getting longer) list of inducements on offer.

Needless to say, none of it has worked so far.

I shouldn't make it sound like it's NEVER worked.

One sunny summer day several weeks ago now my son decided that he'd throw me a little bone during one of our at home days and actually declare that he'd like to use the potty.

The excitement! The joy! I flung him on his duckie seat and, one-year-old in tow, we settled down onto the bathroom floor at his feet to await the magic faeces.

A strange thing happened. The toddler giggled solidly for five minutes, shot me a sly look and then did his business.

But I still can't forget that look - a look that said "I've known how to do this for about four months. I just choose not to. So whaddaya going to do about it?!"

I overlooked the "look" for the moment, too busy was I whooping for joy.

Daddies and grandies were called with the news, the trips were planned, the chocolate was brought, the fatted calf was prepared (I exaggerate on the last example. We didn't quite offer a ritual sacrifice to the gods, but almost!).

And after that day - which saw him use his duckie seat twice - he's never once gone back.

When asked if he wants to use the potty, he's currently roaring "NO!!!" and running to the other end of the house.

People of earlier generations often look at our offspring and wonder if their late graduation to knickers is yet another sign of moral decline.

It's not unusual to see three-year-olds still in nappies, despite the fact we routinely hear of kids of yesteryear toilet trained by the age of two.

My mother claimed I toilet trained "myself" overnight when my twin sisters were brought home from the hospital for the first time (aged 25 months).


Maybe some of it is faulty remembrance, but I do think that kids of yesteryear had relatively un-advanced cloth nappy contraptions to run around in and the inducement to get out of them would have been greater when they were dirty or wet.

These days nappies are just too good - they absorb and conceal too much, and only overflow after the greatest amount of provocation.

It's a subject exercising the minds of parents everywhere. To get the low-down on this most down-there of subjects I Googled toilet training and news and came up with no fewer than 15 US columnists who were describing - in rather gut churning detail - their efforts to toilet train their tots. That was just in one random day!

What I've also gleaned is that there's a new book by US author Teri Crane proving a hit with American parents (it's in its ninth print run already having sold out in North America eight times apparently!)

Called Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, techniques focus on elaborate potty parties in which (usually the mother) devotes an entire day to fun activities associated with toileting, including themed parties treats and games- all to do with expelling waste, demonstrations and trial runs with dolls using props like lemonade and cake to represent waste matter.

Sound involved? It is, but the author swears that "making [the experience] magic" is the key to it working.

Maybe so, but how many of us have time to plan and run a toilet party?

How many other parents want to come and bring their kids to help ours celebrate the mighty act of defecation?

Would we allow photos to be taken at such an event, and what the heck would we give as a momento of the event??

For me, a boy who simply showed some desire to actually use the potty for something rather than hiding his plastic bouncy balls in would be a start.

No need for a party, although we could probably afford a few more nights out from the money we save on his junior-sized imported biodegradable nappies!!

- Dita De Boni

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

Read more by Dita De Boni

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