This summer I am about to embark on another potty training odyssey! Way-hey! The summer’s great for potty training, isn’t it? That’s what everyone says, like it’s one great pastoral idyll where children can run about naked all day long, with not a shitty Thomas the Tank Engine pant in sight. As you may have guessed, that’s not quite how I found it last time around. Still, perhaps I can look upon this summer as a chance to improve on things. In the spirit of this, I have been scouring the Huggies website for some top tips.

I have used Huggies Pull-Ups in the past, whenever they’ve been on special offer and therefore marginally cheaper than the supermarket’s own brand. I always let my son choose which pack we bought and he always chose the pink one with the Disney Princess pants. When I asked him why, he pointed out that the girl on the packaging was wearing fairy wings. I think he assumed if he got enough wees on target, he’d get fairy wings, too (and indeed he did). Some might call that bribery; I call it aspirational pissing. Of course, I kind of knew that we were transgressing the gender boundaries by purchasing the “girl” pants – for a boy! But I figured that what went into them was the same old shit.

An inspection of the Huggies website suggests that perhaps I was wrong. It would appear that in fact, potty training is meant to be a highly gendered activity. Maybe I should take this on board the second time around? Just in case, I have compiled my New Potty Training Rules (thanks, Huggies!):

1.Potty training is most definitely women’s work

My partner and I always took the line that we were in this piss- and shit-streaked mess together. Apparently not. The Huggies website always assumes it is the Mummy who is reading (“As a mum, you probably …”) and that any top tips for Daddy will be passed on second-hand (“Get Dad involved…”). As with so many crappy domestic tasks, it is assumed that the woman does the bulk of the work and the man gets roped in to “help out”. Alas, that’s just not how we roll. And in fact, this time the plan is to get really stuck in during the school holidays, while Youngest spends more time at home before my partner starts work as a primary teacher. My holiday allowance wouldn’t cover this and besides, if the truth be known, I’m glad not to spend what meagre holiday I have in Shit Scrape Central. So this is one rule we can’t follow. I’m, like, really, really sad :(

2. Despite Mummy being responsible for potty training, Daddy is accountable for modelling good pissing / shitting practice for boys

Get Dad involved and be a role model for your boy [sic]. Dad will have to lose any inhibitions and take your son to the toilet for a few demonstrations. Little boys love to be just like Dad and it’s a sure fire way to help encourage the toilet training process. A big brother can also be a great help.

This, I hasten to add, comes straight after the point that tells you to “start toilet training with your son sitting down to both wee and poo”. Not being arrogant, but I am way better at sit-down pissing than Daddy is. Surely I’m the role model here? Plus, I’ve never seen an adult man actually having a shit (nor do I ever wish to). I do know, at least, that a woman doing so is not that disimilar to a toddler, male or female. So how can I be sure that this adds any value at all? I do want my sons to look up to their father, but not as Master of the Pooniverse. Perhaps I will give this one a miss, too.

3. Bear in mind that, being a woman, you know sod all about willies

You therefore need to be told things like “pointing the willy down can help prevent a mess”. I’m sorry. I don’t need this one. At no point have I ever thought that a willy not pointing downwards, or one hanging over the wrong side of the potty, could ever be a good idea. And I don’t have a willy. Moreover, like most women who find themselves pregnant, I have had my share of grown-up willy encounters. Indeed, too much willy is why I now find myself in this sorry mess.

4. Remember, only girls play at sending dollies to the loo

Little girls love playing mum. You can use this to your advantage and have a special dolly that is going through the toilet training process at the same time as your little girl. Allow her to sit the doll on the potty or toilet and take some control of her situation this way.

Unfortunately this advice comes too late for me. I only have boys but they have a dolls’ house, complete with a little wooden toilet, and this has been visited not only by a Tombliboo Ooo finger puppet, but lately by a LEGO storm trooper. So that’s totally upset the gender stereotyping applecart. Have I ended up having sons who are “playing mum”? God, I hope not. Mind you, I’m dead good at going to the bog, me.

Hmm. It looks like I’m not cut out for Huggies potty training camp after all. I’ll just have to struggle on through like last time. But to be honest, I’m not that bothered. The fact is, I don’t see potty training as some great opportunity for gender stereotype indoctrination. It’s just teaching someone not to piss and shit all over the place.

A Star Wars Storm Trooper demonstrates good toilet usage: