My son is a VERY strong-willed boy. This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of potty training.
It’s pretty much guaranteed that if someone suggests that he should use the potty, he will stubbornly insist that he does not have to go. It doesn’t matter that he can barely speak, his legs are firmly crossed, and he is pink in the face and hopping up and down… he will grunt out some excuse about just wanting to “take a break” from playing to stand in a random corner behind some shrubbery and look at the plants. If you press him about it, he will yell at you and explain that he is not hiding because he has to go; he is merely pondering the unique idiosyncrasies of the holly bush.
This had made for a generally hellish potty training experience. We’ve tried incentives like stickers, treats, stamps, charts—even money or trips to the Dollar Store. Each incentive works for about three days, after which time my son decides he’d rather go through the day in wet underpants than suffer the indignity of having his daddy tell him when to pee.
To be fair, it isn’t entirely his fault. He has some sort of sensory issue which makes it difficult for him to tell when his bladder is full. It also makes it difficult for him to empty his bladder properly. He briefly went through physical therapy for this, during which time we accompanied him to the potty and attempted to engage him in ridiculous breathing exercises to relax his pelvic muscles. The “pretend you’re blowing out candles on a cake!” trick worked for the predictable three day period, after which time he decided it was stupid and started refusing to use the toilet again.
We have seen doctors and counselors, and the general consensus now is to just let him be—that eventually he’ll grow out of it and will go potty consistently on his own. Alas, we are still waiting for that glorious day.
So you can imagine my delight when my daughter—who hasn’t formally started potty training yet—recently announced that she had to poop, marched herself to the bathroom and happily hopped on the potty of her own accord. (Yeah, I know we’re perhaps potty training her a little late, but we’re trying a lower-pressure approach than we used with our son in the hopes that she won’t become oppositional about it too!)
She sat on the toilet with a huge grin on her face and congratulated herself, clapping and saying “Good job!” I did a little happy dance and praised her enthusiastically—perhaps we would be mercifully spared the nightmare that we are enduring with our son!!
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s going to be quite the cakewalk we’d hoped.
The other night my husband was getting the kids ready for their bath, and he took my daughter’s pants and diaper off but then got distracted and left her to run about upstairs with no bottoms on. I caught her standing on her brother’s bed, grunting purposefully.
“Clara, do you have to poop?” I asked cheerfully. I then noticed that she wasn’t wearing a diaper, and that she was standing on my son’s pillow. Scooping her up in a panic, I ran to the bathroom and plopped her on the potty just in time for a teensy bit of poo to fall in. I breathed a sigh of relief. Clara smiled at me and announced that she was “All done!”
I was doubtful; although she clapped her hands, congratulated herself, and squirmed to get off the potty, I was not convinced that it had been a “complete performance.”
I had just started encouraging her to try some more when my husband appeared in the doorway to help me with my cause. He said, “Clara, push!!”… and then he screwed up his face, balled up his fists, and began grunting in an embarrassing manner. My daughter was thoroughly entertained by this, but I was a tad disturbed—it was overwhelmingly odd to see my husband engaged in theatrics that suggested he might be giving birth.
Despite his spirited efforts, Clara again insisted she was done, so I cleaned her bum, congratulated her and sent her on her way—which was presumably to see my husband, who I thought was waiting for her with a diaper.
Alas, when I finished washing my hands and went to my son’s room to see how the diapering was going, my husband was nowhere to be found. I saw only Clara, who was bending down and carefully picking something up off the floor. She turned and held it out to me.
My brain was a tad slow in comprehending what I was seeing. Clara was surrounded by poop. She had a nugget of poo clutched in her paw and was contemplating it with fascination, and when she saw me in the doorway she held the ball of poo aloft and said merrily, “What’s this? Treat?”
I recovered and shouted something like, “Oh my GOD, Oh my God!!”… at which point Clara caught my meaning and dropped the poo ball like a hot, smelly potato. “Oh my God! Honey!!!” I screamed. He was downstairs again. “Get up here right now! Your daughter pooped on the floor! She had some in her hand! And now she’s touching Evan’s toys! Get up here!!!”
My husband showed up at the door wearing a look of disdain. “I had a feeling this was going to happen,” he said regretfully. I wanted to scream, “Then why did you walk away from her again?!” but I bit my tongue. I needed his help.
He cleaned Clara up, and I disposed of the poo balls that were strewn across the floor like freakishly large mutant-rat droppings before frantically dousing the carpet and surrounding areas with Lysol. I sprayed some lavender-scented mist in my son’s room so it wouldn’t smell like a chemical factory, or worse—a sewage treatment plant.
I got my daughter to bed and went downstairs to stew. I was rather furious with my hubby. After all, who in his right mind walks away from a toddler with no diaper on… twice? I was in the midst of rehearsing some choice words in my head when I heard him holler “AAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!! EVAN!!!”
He came rushing down the stairs and shouted at me, “Your son just peed on the carpet!!!”
I had to stifle a giggle. Justice is sweet.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Naw…. there’s no way that all happened in one evening. She’s making this up.” I assure you, I am not making this up—this is exactly how the evening unfolded. Frankly, it makes me thankful for the years I spent taking care of multiple cats, during which time I cleaned more than my share of poop, pee, and vomit out of the carpets. If it weren’t for those years of experience, I’m not sure I’d have the constitution for this whole messy process of potty training.
Of course it helps to keep a sense of humor through the whole thing, and to remember that, unlike cats, the children will grow up and stop having accidents in their own time. Until then, it might be wise to at least invest in some HAZMAT suits, and perhaps some litter boxes and piddle pads to leave in strategic locations of the house.
At any rate, I hope my kids get their act together soon. Our potty is feeling quite rejected, and I’m not sure its self-esteem will ever recover!