Tag Archives: potty training

Because the universe recognized I couldn’t handle another difficult child

Lilah – as part of her effort to be the easiest child in New Jersey – has started potty training at twenty-one months.  As you may guess, that means we spend a great deal of time sitting in the bathroom.  Actually, she spends a great deal of time sitting in the bathroom; the adults take a shower, go fold laundry, or reply to a few emails.  She wouldn’t want to be a bother.

She was having some trouble distinguishing between farting and pooping, being quite convinced she had pooped when in fact she had just passed a little gas.  Every time she did it on the toilet, she’d look alarmed.  “Just a little fart!” I’d tell her, until she began to realize what she was doing.

Now, every time she toots on the toilet, she smiles delightedly and announces “Fa!”

We were cooking together on Sunday morning, when I smelled something from her diaper.  “Did you poop?” I asked her.

“Es!” she replied.

“OK, let’s go change your diaper.  Go lie down.”  She scampered over and lay down on the floor.  It turned out, however, that she once again had confused gas with a bowel movement.  “Oh, sweetie.  You didn’t poop.  Just a fart!”

She shook her head and grinned.  “No fa; mama fa!”

Her very first sentence was a fart joke.  Daddy is so proud.

But it was a fart joke that required a semi-colon, so she’s still Mama’s little girl.

Father’s Day

I may have mentioned before that we are having a bit of trouble potty training Benjamin.  For one glorious week last summer, I was certain we had the process well underway, as the child was conducting both forms of business in the proper location.  I gave the prizes I had bought and stored in the closet, hoping to encourage such behavior.  And then, he just stopped.  Pee?  Yeah, he’d do it whenever we brought him in.  But the other part?  No dice.

That was eleven months ago.  Ever since then, a lone Nerf football has gathered dust in my closet, waiting to be presented as a prize for pooping on the toilet.  For a total of twelve months, we have been faithfully taking that child to the bathroom, encouraging him to pee, and waiting for his tail end to catch up with the program.

We have gotten all forms of helpful advice from people who clearly didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.  My favorite was “Back off a little.  He’s still young.  You’re putting on too much pressure.”  Oh, thank GOD you suggested that.  Because we hadn’t considered that option.  (Mutters something under her breath about idiots and the months during which we said nothing to Benjamin about pooping on the potty.)

What no one thought to tell us was that if we let him go around in his birthday suit, he would not poop on the floor, even though he had no trouble letting go in underpants.  Really?  No one could mention that helpful little tidbit?  Y’all had to wait for us to figure it out ourselves?

One evening, J said to me, “You know, every time he feels he has to poop when he’s n@ked, he gets really freaked out and runs into the bathroom.  Maybe we should let him go n@ked for awhile.”

“For awhile” turned out to be something nigh on a month.  He rarely pooped at school, so we sent him in underpants, which usually came home dry and clean.  But, in the house, he was nekkid as the day he was born.  Two cheeks to the wind.  Goin’ commando.

It got to the point where I was just done with seeing p-nises.  Everyday, no matter where I looked, there seemed to be little boy parts: sitting to do a puzzle, watching his evening TV, eating dinner.  I never realized that half the reason people wear clothing is that nudity is so freaking dull.

Yes, he seemed to become much more aware of his… um… urges, but all I wanted was to cover that junk up.  And, he still wasn’t using the fucking toilet to poop.  He got better and better at peeing, but he would wait till nap or bedtime to do his other business.  Eventually, he did sometimes ask us for a pull-up when he had the urge, but we could not rely on it enough to return him to the tribe of People Who Wear Clothing.

There were a few side-effects to the Great Nudity Campaign because it provided much greater awareness not only of his urine but of the tool for urine elimination.  Suddenly, he spent pretty much all the time with one hand on the family jewels.  Giraffie blankie in his mouth, one hand for whatever activity he was engaged in, and one hand permanently fiddling.  In addition, he and his brother started designing new games entitled, originally, “P-nis.”  Mostly, it consisted on pretending some large object was their new organ of manliness and comparing sizes.

To me, as a woman, the p-nis is just not that interesting, beyond its obvious uses.  I had absolutely no idea that males are endlessly fascinated by that thing.  I bet if you asked most men to pick one item to bring to a desert island, they would respond, “Why would I need anything else?  I’ve got all I need right here.”

But, then, on Friday evening, my husband sat with Benjamin as he read his toy catalogs on the toilet.  And sat.  And sat.  The kid wanted so badly, so very, very badly, to poop.  And his patient, patient father sat there, encouraging and talking through the procedure.  And a tiny little bit of poop came out.

That damned Nerf football could finally come out of the closet.

The first thing out of the child’s mouth upon seeing the picture on the wrapping was, “I need a hat for football.”  Whereupon we promised him that, should he continue the miracle, we would gladly get him a Redskins helmet.  Hell, we would have bought the entire team if he’d asked for it at this point.

Saturday morning, I stopped at our neighbor’s yard sale, hoping to find a few extra prizes to have on hand.  “No princesses?” I asked as I rummaged through a box of dolls, since Benjamin has a bit of a princess fetish.   I bought a few puzzles and was walking away when one of the daughters ran over and pushed a bag of plastic princess figures into my hands.

It’s a damned good thing she did, because not two hours later, I found myself sitting in the bathroom with my son for 40 minutes as he read his catalogs and periodically shouted, “The poopy’s coming!”  When it finally arrived, I was able to pull Cinderella out of my back pocket and present her to my very proud child.

I looked for Father’s Day cards for my husband but walked away empty-handed.  They just didn’t have one that read, “Happy Father’s Day to the dad who notices that nudity helps potty training, earnestly coaches his son through a paralyzing fear of pooping on the toilet, and then rewards him with a football, a helmet, and a Cinderella doll, all prior to spending Father’s Day afternoon in urgent care getting the same child’s head glued back together after an unrelated run-in with the corner of a desk.”

I think I should write for Hallmark.

We deal with more poop before 8 AM than most people do all day

            When I grow old, in addition to wearing purple, I will probably bitch about a lot of things.  It seems to me one of the benefits of getting older is you can kvetch and no one gets to say anything.  So, I plan to take full advantage.  I am going to carp, grouse, and bristle, and when I am done with that, I’ll take a break to be argumentative.

            It will be Zachary’s job to deal with me, because I am currently paying into that little account by putting up with all his whining, complaining, and bellyaching.  He has certainly gotten much better since finding out he will not have to graduate preschool on Thursday, but he is the Master of the Quibble and the King of the Cavil.  So, I intend to pay him back as an old lady.

            If, however, I ever start shitting in my pants or on the living room floor, thereby requiring full baths before eight AM, THAT will be Benjamin’s problem to deal with.

Seriously, people, help a girl out.  He will not poop on the potty.  He will not ask for a pull-up.  He is completely pee trained and has been for a long, long time.  My husband was astute enough to notice that when Benjamin is undressed from the waist down, he will not go on the floor and will actually tell us he has to go potty, although he still cannot bring himself to poop there and will hold it till he has pants or a pull-up on.  So, we are letting him go naked a lot (much to his delight).  However, there are limits to that, mostly required by law.  And, much as I’d like to follow him around waiting, that would require a 1-1 adult-child ratio.  Any suggestions would really, really, really be appreciated.  (Except if you tell us to back off and give him time, because we have tried that several times, giving him plenty of space, and it has made no difference except to make him insist he is ready for underpants.  And we don’t want to go backwards on the pee training by putting him in pull-ups all the time, because he pees in those much more than he pees in underpants.  And we can’t give rewards for pooping on the potty because he NEVER does.)

Potty training

            There, I’ve said it.  Commence running screaming from the room. 

            People can bitch all they want about breastfeeding, but I’d rather breastfeed twice and skip potty training altogether.  If anyone wants to trade, I am more than happy to wet nurse your baby for a year if you would please just come convince my kid to poop in the proper receptacle.

            Any takers?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

            The first one potty trained early because the orderliness of it all appealed to him.  This second one?  He’s been peeing in the potty for a year, but he continues to do it in his pants if we don’t take him to the potty on time.  Worse still, we can’t just put him in underpants because the kid simply poops there.

            He will not poop on the potty.

            It doesn’t help matters that I have a baby person to care for so I can’t exactly follow him around watching for signs of pooping in his pants.  Half the reason we got an au pair is to help train this freaking child.

            He’d like to stand to pee all the time, but we will never train him to poop if we allow that, so we sit him down on the little pot.  I think whoever designed those damned potties did so with an eye to tormenting me.  Do they really think that little ledge is going to keep the pee in?  Come on, people, half the toddlers have the type of equipment that points up when they pee.

            So, I find myself hovering over him, admonishing, “Benjamin, pay attention to where your p-nis is,” which, come to think of it, is probably a life lesson in and of itself.

Note: I wrote this last week, and three days later, he was wearing underpants all the time.  “I a big boy now,” he tells me, which translates to, “most of the time I can hold in my poop until you put me in a pull-up for naptime.”

Now that you mention it

            Zachary has been daytime potty trained for two years.  Two years.  Two fucking years.  But it is hard to nighttime train a child who likes to fall asleep sucking on a straw cup filled with water.  Hell, we were lifting him to the toilet just to keep him from wetting through his Pull-Up.

            A few months ago, I managed to convince him that he should only have the cup once he gets into bed, cutting out the four or five ounces he was drinking during book time.  This cut down on the urine output considerably, giving me hope that we might be down to only two children in diapers before the child goes to middle school.

            He is so grown up lately, insisting he can do everything by himself but also terrified by what that might mean.  I think those nighttime Pull-Ups became a habit that it never occurred to him to break.  And his parents?  Well, nighttime training means a lot more laundry, not to mention the hassle of re-making the top berth of a bunk bed on a regular basis.  We figured it would happen eventually.

            And then, one night in December, he started to put his pjs on sans Pull-Up.  “Do you want to wear underwear, instead?” I asked.  He stopped and processed that concept.

            “Um, yes,” he decided.  And that was it.  Now he is nighttime trained, although we still have to lift him and there is an accident once or twice a week. 

             If only convincing his brother to poop on the potty were this easy.  Maybe if we sit around and wait for Ben to be ready, he’ll be potty trained before the Junior Prom.

Family rule

            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.