No Win Situation

She wanted to know what my thoughts were concerning when we should begin potty-training our daughter.

AJ was easy to figure out. He started to ask us to have bowel movements on the toilet and spontaneously began to hold his urine throughout the course of evenings. Potty training was as easy as putting on underwear and asking him to go to the bathroom every 1-2 hours. Tori will certainly be more challenging and both Kristy and I are aware of this fact.

.     .    .    .

Kristy: Do you think we should start potty training her now or should we wait?

Keith: I don’t know.

I really want your opinion here. Do you think she is ready?

If I knew she was ready, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that I would say we should start now? I already said that I don’t know.

You must have an opinion.

I don’t, but let me turn things toward you for a moment: Do you think she is ready?

I am not sure. With AJ we both knew, but she is different.

I don’t disagree.

So what does your gut tell you?

I try to make a habit of not necessarily “following my gut.”

Well, my motherly intuition says that she isn’t ready.

Okay…2 things: (1) Being a mother does not ordain you with superpowers beyond all knowledge and reason, affording you the privilege of foresight. (2) What would she need to do to make you feel that she was ready?

You don’t have to be an asshole…I know I don’t have superpowers…and I don’t know what would change my mind to give me the confidence to feel that she is ready.

Then we should start now.

But I don’t feel like she is ready.

But you said that you don’t know what it would take for you to feel that she is [ready]. So, if you can’t say what would make you “feel” that she is ready, then there is no reason to believe that there will be a moment that your thoughts will change per se and we would just be waiting for your “intuition” to tell you she is ready.

I just don’t want her to struggle with this for months. If we can help her be one of those kids who gets it more easily, than I want to make that happen.

I understand, but the fact of the matter is that she can urinate 4 out of 5 times when you sit her on the toilet…

But what about the times that she doesn’t go right away?

I don’t know. Maybe she can’t go, maybe she just went in her diaper. There is no way for us to be sure.

I just don’t want it to take 3 months for her to figure it out and struggle with it when we should just wait those 3 months until it will be easier.

But you already said that you don’t how to define when she is ready. Besides, I could just as well argue that it would take that same hypothetical child 3 months to learn to be potty trained, regardless of when you started. Again, you can never know.

Would you stop being so rational. We need to figure out what to do. You cannot analyze this like it some kind of study or something. This is our kid for Christ’s sake.

I know full well who we are talking about, but here is the thing: You already said that your gut or intuition (or whatever you want to call it) was no help to you. So you come to me – the more rational party in the relationship – to ask for my opinion, but you all of a sudden expect me to disregard reason (for the first time during the tenure of our relationship) to help steer our decision making in this particular matter?

Why do you have to over-think everything? You don’t have to try to prove how smart you are with every decision that we try to make.

Here is the problem: You want me to give you an answer that is (a) honest, (b) reasonable and (c) will make you happy. This is not my fault; you can’t have all three. The reality of the situation is that I honestly don’t know, and cannot reasonably foresee a time when I will or under what cicrumstances that I would. I’m sorry that makes you unhappy…

.     .     .     .

This evening, I wonder: Would I have approached this conversation the same way if I were speaking with a patient with unrealistic expectations? With my wife, should I have to? The former is easily answered; of course the latter is not.


One thought on “No Win Situation

  1. “Stop being so rational”

    Reminds me of rewatching “House MD”. Seems like a poor choice of getting relationship advice.

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