Zachary has been potty trained for more than a year. During the day, that is. At night, he still wears a pull-up. And I suspect he will for a long time to come.
The fact is that he needs to drink water from a straw cup to fall asleep. He gave up thumb-sucking at one year old, much to my chagrin, but a year later he started substituting drinking water from a straw. We eventually had to limit the times he could have the straw cup, because he would use it so much for comfort that he would fill up on water and eat no food. Now, he gets his straw cup in bed, during books, and during television time.
On nights he does not fall asleep quickly, he keeps sucking away, and that pull-up is pretty necessary when he has had 20 ounces of water right before bed. Even when we lift him to the toilet twice, he wets. If we don’t lift him, he wakes up an hour or two before he should, needing to go to the bathroom. We have been known to get up in the night just to lift him, so dedicated are we to late mornings.
So, though he shows the signs of a child ready to nighttime train – waking early to pee, for example – his water habit is holding him back. We have, as we see it, two choices: break him of the cup or keep putting a three-and-a-half-year-old in pull-ups.
We do not want to break him of the cup. If he really needs it for comfort, we do not want to take it away. Though he is too old to need diapers, he is clearly still a very little person who does need the comfort of his cup. Childhood is brief enough without Mommy and Daddy cutting it short.
On days he naps, he wears a pull-up, even though he never wets in the afternoon. He just isn’t comfortable sleeping in underpants. And so, on the way back from Fresno, knowing he would sleep in the car after lunch, I took him to the bathroom at Denny’s to change him into a pull-up.
“Mommy,” he began. “We came to this restaurant before.”
“Not this one, Zachary. We went to the Denny’s in Santa Monica. There are lots of Denny’s out there. They’re ubiquitous.” Suddenly, we were in a teaching moment, because I had used a word he did not know. And this is how I found myself in the bathroom at Denny’s, putting a three-and-a-half-year-old into a pull-up, and defining the word “ubiquitous.” And that is how I found myself, the next day, being informed that people, elephants, and hair are ubiquitous.
“Silly! Elephants aren’t ubiquitous. Do you see elephants anywhere?”
“Elephants are abiquitous on TV,” he corrected me, which is quite true when you consider that we have been watching Dumbo.
And that is how, two days later, J found himself on the phone at work while Zachary was eating breakfast. “I’m having a muffin. The blueberries are abiquitous.”
And, that is also how our family came to have the following new rule, unenforceable with Zachary but applicable to the following two children: No one will be considered ready to learn the word “ubiquitous” until he or she is out of training pants.