Lifestyle Inflation: Potty Training Edition
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I’m certainly not the first person to note that the “middle class” lifestyle is a lot fancier than it used to be. I was a pretty lucky teenager. I had a telephone in my very own room! I had both a Walkman and a Discman, and–the height of sophistication–I even had my own TV and VCR! Whereas nowadays, your average “middle class” teenager has approximately 1,312 electronic gadgets, half of them with data plans. And you need only meander the stroller section of Babies R Us to realize that lifestyle inflation has reached the younger set.
But I came across lifestyle inflation one place I wasn’t looking for it: potty training manuals. Last year, I read Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, the classic Azrin and Foxx work dating back to the mid-1970s. (It’s worth a read for the illustrations alone.) But my new library doesn’t have it, so this year, I checked out Teri Crane’s updated version of the same idea, Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day: Proven Secrets of the Potty Pro. Both use the same general idea of having a one-day “potty party” to get the tot out of diapers.
I expected that the more recent one would address the proper use of Pull-Ups (it does) and wasn’t surprised that it suggests starting later (more like two and a half than newly two). What surprised me was the difference in swag. Crane’s book has you start the day by giving your child a wrapped doll (the kind that pees, of course) as a present to open. The underpants are also a wrapped present, and the child receives several more wrapped presents at the sort of graduation party that ends the day. The party should have a theme–which the underpants should match–expressed through decorations, stickers, sticker charts, etc.
The 1970s Azrin and Foxx version (and remember my library didn’t have it, so I’m working from memory) also involves a doll, training pants, treats, and so on. But there is no party theme. And in their extended example, the peeing doll is borrowed from Big Sister and the training pants used to be Big Brother’s. There are no stickers, no wrapped presents, and no giant party at Chuck E. Cheese to round out the day. It also discusses the technical part of training in much more detail than Crane’s book, which skimps on the technicalities in order to make room for whole chapters about decorations.
I guess you know which model I will be attempting next month with Little Brother, armed with hand-me-down undies (actually, Big Brother still often likes to wear the padded Gerber ones, so I hope he will share), some treats from the bulk aisle at Sprouts, and the Potty Scotty doll my clever mother found for us at a consignment sale ($8!). Wish us luck!