No-one tells you how miserable it is to potty-train a child before you have one of your own. I suppose it wouldn’t have mattered. Before I had kids, I believed all those parenting horror stories were the direct result of irresponsible and incompetent parents. I was not one of those parents, therefore those stories didn’t apply to me.

Then I had kids. I’m now a very accomplished eater of crow.

At long last, I’ve reached the end of the diaper era. I have only one remaining child to potty-train. He’s a boy. He is Napoleanic, bossy, stubborn, adorable, and unteachable. He doesn’t remember from one second to the next any instruction I give him. Even when I scream “Don’t climb the railing or you’ll fall!” He climbs, he falls, he cries, he climbs again. Also, he will not suffer long to be parted from his sippee cup.

I figure I’m pretty much doomed.

In fact, if it weren’t for the nauseating, run-you-out-of-the-house-from-the-stench, might-as-well-hose-him-off-outside bowel movements, and the high cost of diapers, I’d leave him in diapers indefinitely. There’s also the fact that no money in the world would successfully bribe anyone to change his diapers in kindergarten.

For the past month I’ve been talking up pooping in the potty – how great it is to get all that messy stuff out and off your skin, no diaper rash, no cold wipes, no sagging pants. I’ve talked about how grown up it is.

We’ve also begun some tutorials. We’ve practiced pulling pants up and down, sitting, and standing. I asked his brother to demonstrate. Little Boy was so fascinated by all the bubbles that he almost stuck his head into the urine stream in his attempt to get a closer look at the toilet water.

Unfortunately, he isn’t sold. And I just want to the nightmare to end. Somehow I have to sweeten the deal for me.  Make it worth the insult to my nose and my clothes washer and my water bill.

My solution? Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

My plan is simple. The first three days, every time he successfully pees or poops in the potty, he gets a mini Reese’s.

And since his success will primarily be due to my vigilance, so do I.

From the fourth day on (at which time he really should have the idea), he has to pee three times in a row to earn a Reese’s. And of course, poop of any amount actually in the potty merits a Reese’s.

Which got me to thinking, maybe my OB/GYN should consider this method. “Do your Kegels once a day, treat yourself to a Reese’s! Do your monthly self-breast-exam, treat yourself to TWO Reese’s!” Not that I have trouble remembering either of those two things. Ahem.

On to dealing with accidents: the truly genius part of my plan. If he pees his pants, I get his Reese’s (which, if you’re counting, means I get two!). “You could have had this, but you chose to pee your pants, so I get it! Mmmmm… it’s so yummy. Next time you pee in the potty and you can have one!”

Poop in the pants, on the other hand, is a severe infraction. That I despise. A mere mini-Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup simply won’t compensate. Not even a full-size one with dark chocolate.

As I pondered a sufficient reward for having to clean out poop-filled pants, a friend of mine suggested that every time he poops his pants, I get an 8-day Caribbean cruise.

Perfect. If things go as I expect, I should be able to spend the entire 2010-2011 school year on a boat.