Disclaimer: Yes, this is a post about potty training, which means there's some possible TMI-worthy content. You have been warned.
So I'm thinking we'll give potty training (I know I'm supposed to call it "toilet learning" now but am having trouble getting into that habit) a try sometime in January. I was tempted to start a few weeks ago, but since we'll be out of town for 2 weeks for Christmas (and it's tough to stick to even his regular schedule with all the family around) it probably is more reasonable to wait till after the holidays.
Unfortunately, I feel like I already missed a possible window of opportunity early in the year when we had several casual successes with the potty. At the time I assumed those would continue, and that it was too early to try anything more formal. Then months passed, he stopped showing as much interest in the potty or even wanting to sit on it at all. Summer came and went, everything feeling busy and me hardly even thinking about potties for a long time.
Then recently D has started showing interest again. He's always been fascinated with my going to the bathroom (I haven't been able to go alone since D became mobile oooh, what, a year and a half ago?) He's also seen Zach use the toilet a few times... indeed he once managed to get his hand in the stream of urine as Zach was peeing (suppose we shoulda seen that one coming, seeing how much he loves playing with water). He's since learned the words for pee and poop, is interested in poop going down the toilet, and has even caught on to toilet paper and started trying to "assist" me.
So I think he's getting ready, but I'm kinda worried he'll back off again if I don't take advantage of the opportunity. Then again, I'm also terrified of actually trying, wondering how it'll all go and how life will be completely different without diapers around (yes, it'll be great... eventually... but what will it be like going out in public when he's still "iffy" and how many accidents will we have to deal with in the middle of Target?).
He still sometimes sits in his small potty chair, though he's shown much more interest in the big potty. So a few weeks back I got one of those kiddie potty seats that goes on the toilet to make the opening smaller, and by happy coincidence we also inherited a plastic stepstool that's perfect for him to step up onto to reach the toilet. And so the past few days he's had great fun playing a game that consists of taking off his pants and diaper, sitting on the toilet for a few seconds, getting back up, asking me to flush the toilet, sitting back down, and then tearing half the roll of toilet paper off so "wipe" his bottom (meaning he drops the paper in the space in the seat opening just behind his butt).
Part of me is VERY excited about this-- a) he's not scared of toilets flushing, which I've heard can be a great obstacle for many kids, b) he's interested in sitting on the toilet and seems to know what it's for, etc.
Then there's the environmentalist in me screaming about the water wasted from flushing the toilet 10 times in so many minutes, and all the toilet paper wasted. And, while I want him to be familiar with the toilet and feel comfortable using it, I don't want it to become so much of a game that he forgets what it's *really* supposed to be for to begin with. But on the other hand if I don't let him do this he gets all upset and I don't want to foster negative feelings regarding the toilet before we've even really begun.
And since all the potty training websites out there seem to focus on giving you the same list of ideas and protocols rather than much info on anything else regarding the process, I'm asking you veteran parents for advice-- Do I encourage him to play this way with the potty? Try to limit it somehow? Should I just let the kid be until January? Am I completely over-thinking this whole thing?