14 May 2009

Chronciles of Potty Training

When my children hit the age of 2, I recoil from potty training for as long as possible. It's like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, I have a knee jerk reaction due to my horrible past experiences with it.

My first child potty trained at the age of 3.4. I felt like I certainly must have been the worst mother in the world to have a child p.t. so late in life. All her little friends were having potty success by the age of 2.5, with few exceptions. There was nobody there to tell me that each child has their own unique time frame and temperament, and that all of these must align in order for p.t.'ing to lift off without a hitch. Nobody was there to tell me that whether or not my child potty trained before the age of 3 was in no way a reflection on my parenting skills. Of course, I kept company with other first time moms, so that explains it right there. But I pretty much hid under a rock whenever the topic came up. And when she was finally p.t.'ed, I joined the other living, breathing, bragging moms and basked in the glory of having completed my task.

Jonah potty trained at age 3.975. Unlike Adriana, he refused to even SIT on the dang thing. He'd go stiff as a board every time I carried him into the bathroom, singing dumb little ditties about how fun using the potty is through my gritted teeth. I was a sweaty, bitter mess by the end of the day (actually for MANY days, on end), and had only a pile of wet undies to show for it. I threw in the towel quickly, and asked periodically, over the course of probably a year (yes, you heard that right), if he'd like to try and go potty. His teachers at preschool were vigilant as well. But to no avail. Alas, one Saturday afternoon, my husband decided to take Jonah in the bathroom, shut the door, and insist firmly that he pee. Just a drop would do. And there'd be a party in his honor, with a present, and plenty of praise. And it worked. And he had not a single accident from that day forward. It was like a switch went off and he just decided to do it. FINALLY. Here I thought maybe there was soemthing wrong with him, that he indeed might be the first Kindergartner to wear a Pull-Up to school, and he'd just not yet decided that he wanted to do it! Stinker!

Drew comes along. He hits 2.5. And I have a 5 month old baby. A very easy 5 month old baby, I might add. But nobody else needed to know that. ;) It can wait, I thought. He asked a few times, to which I retorted "I know what you've got up your little sleeve! What do you think I am, stupid?" He'd look up at me confusingly and go back to playing with his trains. Poor kid. Had no idea how much therapy his mother needed. But I knew that boys trained later than girls - Jonah had certainly proven that theory. And I wasn't ashamed of my laziness any more than I was reluctant to face the hardships that lie ahead for us both. Then around his 3rd birthday, I suggested he use the potty. I knew it was time and I wanted to get it over with quickly. Like ripping off a band-aid. By now I had heard and tried all the theories - let him go naked, buy him a doll, give him potty treats, make him a potty chart, blah, blah, blah. I just didn't really care for any of the hooplah anymore. I only wanted to stop hoisting my 35 lb. preschooler's legs over his head to wipe his bum. And so every 15 min., for 3 or 4 days in a row, we marched into the bathroom and sat on the porcelain throne. 3.975 came and went. I was shocked. Drew DID want to use the potty. He went whenever I asked him to. But he never went on his own. Was he not sensing the urge, I wondered? Because he was willing and able to do it. And I found myself hiding under that dang rock of shame again. It didn't help that he is big for his age... as tall or taller than many kindergartners. So I felt much scrutiny whenever he declared loudly in public that he'd peed his pants again. The road to success continued to meander for a few months. But around 4.4 he was finally trained.

So by now I am really beginning to feel like this is my lot in life, right? This and laundry. I couldn't seem to get a handle on either one.

Well, Sasha is currently 2.8. She has hit every milestone much sooner than her older siblings. So, 2 months ago I decided to buy her a pretty pink Baby Bjorn potty (the old one surely had a bad omen placed on it). Last week I decided we'd begin the process. Yesterday was when I actually started. ;) Baby steps, ya know? You don't go jumping head first into a landmine.

I am proud to announce that she was succeessful. On her very first day. She knew when she had to go. She simply told me, we walked into the bathroom together, she sat down and listened to a few songs, and voila. Peed. I almost didn't believe it. Had all those moms been telling the truth? Was this actually possible? I had to peer into the potty to be sure. And pinch myself a few times. She's broken the mold in so many ways (rarely has temper tantrums for one thing), and I hope this continues to be one of them!

Ironically, I am hearing from other moms this time around how hard this potty training gig is. And I shake my head emphatically along with them that yes, potty training deserves some kind of great reward. Move over Oscars. I just may be done with diapers, and my biggest parenting challenge to date, FOREVER. Where, oh where, is my gold trophy?


Lucy said...

Oh, Lei, I'm going through the same thing right now. Potty training my last. He is 3.5 and I knew from day one that this dramatic little boy would not do anything until he was ready. I hasn't helped that he still can't speak clearly, and I let him get away with things I did not with his older siblings.

We are doing the naked thing. If he is naked, he goes. Everytime. Never an accident. Something happens when he wears underwear though. He doesn't care if he's wet, or messes himself. Something about that piece of cloth removes all sense of feeling, or something. We are going on 4 weeks now and I can only hope that eventually, he can wear pants.

You've been through the potty training ringer, for sure. I'm so glad your daughter is easing up on the challenge a bit. We got a cute baby bjorn seat as well as I was sure our 1st Step one was cursed.

It is not my favorite thing about parenting.

Allysha said...

I hate potty training. My 3+ year old son is in diapers and that's how it is. His sister turns two next week and I figure I'll have a potty training marathon this summer and get a 2-for-1 sort of deal.

I laughed at the story of your husband and your son. Kids. They are so....funny.

Lara said...

you definitely deserve an award! We all do for sure! I've been training Sophie for the past few months, and she finally has gotten it this last few weeks. I'm amazed at her, because compared to my other two, she was easy.

Tigersue said...

I have decided that modern diapers are the worst offenders for difficulty potty training. After all how is a kid to know what they did if they can't feel it. No the new fangled "feel" pullups don't work so well either.

I was lucky with Kendra and Abbie, except Abbie still needs them at night, I'm not ready to wake up to wet sheets every morning. She has regressed as well this past week for some odd reason. Who knows.

I can say with children #1&#2 pt was horrible. I have since learned that with speach disorders difficulty pt is part of the disorder. I'm not sure it is with the lack of communication or if there is actually something else going on in the brain that can't process the needs of the body as well as how to speak appropriately.

I dreaded pt with my last 2, and they both showed me signs they were ready. It was so nice to have children do it. I never had that with the other 2, and both of them were well over 4 years old, and even after that it was horrible for years still.

I understand the nightmare, I tell you, I really do!

Swimmingmom said...

Just what I needed to read! Thank you! As you know, I have totally been beating myself up about this whole potty training extravaganza as I'm just a first time mom trying to do the right thing and do it all perfectly. I had no idea how hard it would be. Thanks for your post- believe it or not, it has me in tears. I'm feeling much better now!

Morning Glory said...

It sounds to me like she's your reward for the efforts with the other three. What a great post, Lei! Loved every word.

Lei said...

It's interesting that those of us who've had kids with speech delays have tread the same difficult path. With Jonah I tried using boardmaker (picture chart) to help him visualize the potty process, rather than process it or try to figure out how to communicate his questions to me. Perhaps it would have worked if I'd stuck with it longer. But like every other method I'd tried, I didn't have much energy left to give it after a good week or so.

Amber said...

You DO deserve a gold trophy. SERIOUSLY. Potty training was my ultimate lowest moment as a mother, far worse than colic. My daughter was a nightmare and continues to be a nightmare. Even though she trained a few months shy of her fourth birthday, she still has accidents almost daily. A medical issue? No. She only does it at home. It's a complete power struggle.

Gabriela said...

Hi Lei! Thanks so much for reconnecting with me-it was great to see your name again. :)

Wow-you have had some hard potty training expereiences. I'm so glad Sasha's been easier-you'll end on a good note (unless there's more on the way?).

I loathe potty training too-not looking forward to training #4.

singalullaby said...

I waited until the. last. minute. to potty train. And, you know, I cannot recall when it exactly happened for any of my four children. :-) I know they went to preschool knowing the basics....

The competition among mommy friends (when did he walk? potty? poo? read? speak French?) seems so silly now.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I wish every mother ... especially the ones who look at you crazy when your 3 1/2 year old who is HUGE for his age ... isn't potty trained. Glad to know there are other mothers out there who get it :) !! Each child is so unique. Now that my 4 year old is trained (he trained a few months shy of 4), I wonder if he will be the first to go to kindergarten not knowing how to wipe or pull up his pants ;) ?!?

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