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You can teach an old dog forgotten tricks

(Not So) Common Sense
You can teach an old dog forgotten tricks
By Carole Townsend

There’s a two-year-old in our house. She’s been here for a week, and she’ll be here for all of this week. She’s our granddaughter, and we asked to have her come and stay for an extended length of time.

Carole Townsend

Our home is somehow different while she’s here. It’s busier, yes, but it’s also full of wonder, excitement and discovery. I don’t believe there’s another creature on earth quite like a two-year-old child.

We got a call from her dad yesterday, and he asked a question that brought our giggly, whirly, merry-go-round of a summer adventure to a screeching halt: “Have you had any luck with the potty training?”

Potty training? Why are you asking me that? No one said anything about potty training, for Pete’s sake.

“Oh, we’re doing pretty well with it. She’s showing interest, and that’s what matters,” I answered, lying through my teeth. Her potty sits in our downstairs bathroom collecting dust and cobwebs. For a while, our dogs were using it for a water bowl; I was trying to train them not to drink out of the potty. Ironic, isn’t it? It worked, anyway.

Now, I rinse her potty out every week or so just to keep the dust down. When I ask her if she wants to go sit on the big girl potty, she replies with a high-pitched but definite “No!”

Ever since that phone call from her dad, I have tried everything I know to try to reason with the kid. Ever try reasoning with a two-year-old?

“Sweetie, want to use your cool big girl potty?”

“I want go swimming, Yaya.”

“Yes, but let’s talk about the big girl potty first. It’s so pretty. I wish my potty looked like yours.” Hers looks like a ladybug with a bucket in its back. Come to think of it, maybe that’s part of the problem.

“You use it, Yaya.”  Smart kid.

“Uh well, Yaya already has a potty, This one is for you.”

“I want cookie.”

When my husband came home from work the other day, he found the two of us dancing around the family room singing a song I made up about the joys of using the big girl potty. I was also shaking maracas to the beat, as we sang our hearts out. He’s starting to worry about me; I can tell. But I’m feeling pressure – what a great Yaya would I be if I were the one to pull this off?

When we finished our song and dance routine, I asked her with over-the-top excitement if she wanted to go use her potty.


As I lay awake in bed last night thinking about how to outsmart this kid and have her thoroughly potty trained by the time she goes home next week, it hit me. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? The answer was right there all the time, filed away with twenty-two years’ worth of things I used to try to keep up with our youngest daughter.  She was just barely two when she was potty trained. Fashion! Of course!

When I took our youngest shopping for “big girl panties” twenty-two years ago, that was the magic solution. She loved fashion then, and she still does today. When our baby saw the staggering options a girl of two had just by switching from diapers to panties, that was it for her. Seriously, she made the change in exactly one day.
Our granddaughter loves all things girly – jewelry, clothes, makeup, you name it. This has to work. I am waiting for her to wake up from her nap, and then we’re hitting the mall.

I’ll keep you all posted. Wish me luck.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on, Barnes &, and at When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, children, the family and living in her beloved South.