Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adventures in Toilet Training

At not quite 22 months old, M said to me enthusiastically, "I want to pee on the potty!"  Really?!?!  I was thrilled.  Our diaper budget was about to be cut in half.  Half the amount of diapers being changed on a daily basis.  Half the amount of diapers going into landfills, because I really can't get on board with cloth diapers no matter how much I want to do good for the environment.  I know.  I know.  Please don't persecute me for this.  Like breast feeding, this is a personal decision.  My children have very sensitive behinds and it takes very little to set off a small diaper rash.  Just ask the babysitter who has not been asked to return because she didn't feel diaper changing was part of her job description.  It took all week to clear up the redness.  Additionally, the way this one boy can void?  All I would do is wash diapers and really, isn't doing excessive amounts of laundry also bad for the environment?  But I digress....

I promptly propped M up on the toilet and held onto to him as he clung to me for dear life to keep from falling into the porcelain abyss.  Of course, with all this clinging and holding, he wasn't really relaxed enough to have produced anything.  So the next day, M and I hopped in the car and drove to the BIG Babies R Us (not endorsing in any way) to select a pot sized for his behind.  M was in such a cute stage at that time (since, he has developed a serious case of the Terrible Twos, a topic for another post) and he referred to himself as "this little boy".  All the way to the store I heard him in the back seat saying, "This little boy is riding in the car." Once there,  "this little boy" and I picked a suitable potty for peeing.  Nothing fancy although it does resemble a regular john with a lid that you can close.  We brought it home and excitedly opened the box to remove the object d'art.  M took to it immediately.  Every time we turned around, he wanted to "pee on the potty".  For 3 days, he was awesome.  He asked to go.  He went every time he sat down.  He was a rock star.  My husband and I grinned at one another smugly, both thinking, "We are the BEST. PARENTS. EVER!!"

And then...

Let's pause to remember that if M was not quite 22 months old, that made C not quite 8 months old, which means he was still taking a bottle.  On the third evening of M's awesome potty use, baths had been completed for the evening and I was giving C his last bottle for the evening.  The hubs was not home for whatever reason so I was on my own.  I could hear M in the other room talking about pooping on the potty.  Hoping I wasn't hearing what I was afraid was happening, I finished C's bottle and headed to the bathroom.  And there was M in the middle of a mess.  Poo everywhere.  In the potty, on the potty, on the floor, on him.  I was less than thrilled although I tried to remain positive and applaud his efforts.  It was difficult and I am human.  It was the end of a long day, and they're all long when you are home alone with 2 little boys.  As I hastily tossed M back into the tub for another bath, I told him over and over again how "happy I am that he tried to poop on the potty all by himself.  Really, I'm so glad you want to do this.  I just really wished you had waited for Mommy.  But its a good thing that you want to and you tried all by yourself.  I just really didn't need  to mop the floor tonight.  Or give you another bath.  But really, that's OK because it's more important that you want to use the potty.  I just really need to hurry and get this floor cleaned up before C crawls in here and I know he's coming so you have to hang out in the tub a little bit while I clean the floor.  But I'm so glad you tried.  I didn't really need the extra work tonight since Daddy's not home but you tried and that's great."  You get the idea.

Well, so did M.  The next day, there was zero interest in the potty.  And for the next several days.  I was so discouraged.  And wallowing in guilt as I blamed myself for probably discouraging his initiative for such a skill.

Since that fateful evening, there have been glimmers of hope that he may be ready for another go at it.  There was the month or so that he used going potty as  delay tactic for going to bed.  There was the morning he awoke with a dry diaper so I enthusiastically ushered him to the potty where he promptly emptied his bladder.  Looking in the pot, he said excitedly, "Its yellow!!"  "I know!!", I replied mirroring his excitement.  "Its beautiful", he said breathlessly.  "It is!", I confirmed.  The next few mornings, even though he woke with a wet diaper, he could be enticed to make yellow in the pot.  After a few days, this too grew old.

Soon, one by one, the other kids in our playgroup were starting to use the toilet.  M was intrigued.  He was allowed to go with some of them and watch the action.  And this was good for him I think.  He started showing interest in wearing underpants so we rushed out and bought some.  We also bought some books, "The Potty Book for Boys" and "No More Diapers for Duckie".  Sadly, playgroup disbanded for the summer at the end of May so the peer pressure is longer there.

On a whim one evening after his bath, I sat C on the potty thinking M would have renewed interest if he saw his little brother using it.  Much to C's surprise and my amazement, he actually went!  I screamed, "You went pee pee on the potty!!"  C just screamed excitedly and M ran in to see what was going on.  He yelled, "I'm so excited!!"  although I'm not really sure if he knew what he was excited about.  Despite his excitement, M was not motivated by his brother's feat.

One morning, at my suggestion after our usual argument of "I don't wanna get my diaper changed"/"Yes but you need your diaper changed or your butt will get sore", M decided to wear underpants.  He didn't even have to wear his shorts over them so he could see them.  We chose a really cool pair with cars on them.  I frequently, like every 1/2 hour, reminded him, "Now you're wearing underpants today so you have to pee on the potty".  My mistake was not taking him to the bathroom or asking him if he had to go.  After lunch, I reminded him once again, "don't forget, you're wearing underpants.  If you have to pee, you need to use the potty."  Approximately 30 seconds later M came to me, "Mommy clean up."  "Clean up what?", I wondered.  "The water", he told me.  Sure enough, not even a minute after my last reminder, he had gone on the living room floor.  Thinking that perhaps he would mind wet underpants, I left them on him while I first cleaned up the floor.  Then I changed him into another cool pair of underpants, these had MONSTERS on them.  About 2 minutes later, and that is no exaggeration, it happened again but this time in the kitchen.  "I think maybe today we are done with underpants", I told him.  We went back to the diaper.  Two weeks ago,  he/we decided to try the Great Underpants Experiment again.  This time, in my infinite potty training wisdom, I decided that this time we would put shorts over the underwear.  Certainly wet shorts would be uncomfortable enough to get his attention.  Oh how wrong I was.  We went through 4 pairs of shorts and 4 pairs of underwear before I finally admitted, he's just not ready.  It's that simple.  He's. Just. Not. Ready.  No matter how ready the hubs and I may be.

So for now, the pot is stored securely in the closet to take the pressure off.  And multiple times a day, as I listen to him lamenting, "I don't wanna have my diaper changed!", I resist the urge to tell him, "I wouldn't have to change your diaper if you would use the potty" as I have time and again over the past month.  I am trying the no pressure approach for a bit.  Coincidentally, the hubs and I are also shopping for a preschool for M at this time.  At the top of my list is the one who will assist with potty training.  A little peer pressure never hurt anyone when it comes to social graces.

As for those books?  He reads them.  He doesn't live them.

As for me?  I still can't help wondering if perhaps my mini-rant during those early days might not have curtailed his enthusiasm for the potty.  I am told boys are harder to toilet train than girls.  And I am told that frequently there are starts and stops.  And I am told that many times, if interest and success is shown as early as M did, it often goes away.  So I am trying to let myself off the hook a little bit.  And watching closely for signs that maybe, just maybe, M will be ready to pee in that potty someday soon.

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