An acquaintance with a little boy was telling potty stories, fearful that the kid will never master the toilet arts.

It kicked up my near post-traumatic stress memories of the Little Girl's efforts in that area when she was 3.

Her thinking back then was that sitting on a commode was ridiculous, given that Pampers had invented a perfectly functional alternative.

One of my greatest fears was that my daughter would take so long to train that she and I would both be in diapers at the same time:

"Dad, you doddering fool, you're wearing my Dora Pull-Ups again. Yours are the Depends. And take them off your head! "

I'd gone to the Web for help, but so much advice was contradictory.

A lot of doctors, my pediatrician included, said it happens when it happens.

"Come on, Al," he told me, "you don't see 17-year-olds wearing diapers." (Obviously, he had never visited my high school.)

Other parents were no help. Some in the so-called diaper-free movement believe that babies are fully capable of alerting their parents when they have to go.

These kids never wear diapers and train extremely early. I grew to hate them.

Couples I know feel the need to point proudly to precocious darlings who trained in two days at an impossibly early age:

"No, honey, I'm absolutely certain he was 8 months old when he first pooped in the potty. Because at 10 months he addressed the British Parliament, remember? "

It was a little depressing that my daughter was old enough to explain to me articulately why she couldn't go in the potty: "I just don't want to." "It's not what I like." "Talk about something else," et cetera.

Each week, I upped the bribes that I'd shower her with.

Eventually, all worked out well.

And thank goodness she doesn't remember the promises I'd made her -- because I think I owe her a Porsche and a Barbados timeshare.

.