Monday, August 12, 2013

Patience is a Virtue (and it's hard to be virtuous)

So, last Monday, I was gung ho and sure that L would potty train in three days.  After all, he was staying dry for up to four hours at a time (and through the night), peeing on command, and recognizing when he peed or pooped in his diaper.  These were all the things that E was doing prior to PTBC, and since it took her three days, it surely would take him the same amount of time.

I didn't factor in two variables:

1. My children are completely different; and
2. My time and attention/availability for potty training is much more limited.

Let's start with variable 1.  E is a thinker.  She often won't try anything until she's sure she can do it.  She will then do things over and over and over again until they are mastered.  The girl didn't crawl until she was 8 months old, and spent three months prior to that perch on all fours, just contemplating the idea.  When she took her first step, she crawled back to where she started and took another.  And then another.  Same thing with climbing stairs, swimming, riding her bike, and reading.  The girl likes to drill herself.

L is the opposite.  The boy hurls himself through time and space without any thought.  He started crawling at 5 months, doing this strange, gimpy-type crawl that was a half-sit, half crawl.  Whatever got him across the room, it didn't matter if the form was right.  He continues to trip and fall whenever he walks, runs or climb stairs.  I stopped counting the number of goose eggs he's gotten on his forehead from walking into walls and door jambs.  He jumps in the pool with complete disregard of the fact that someone needs to catch him, and on his second birthday, he ripped his upper lip tie on the play structure trying to climb something that was beyond his current ability.

The second variable is something that occurred to me on day four, when L obviously had enough with peeing on the potty, and I had obviously had enough with him peeing on the floor. 

The first day wasn't so bad -- we went through 9 pairs of underpants, and L was generally cheerful about cleaning up the mess.  Days two & three were about the same, with less accidents because I had stopped offering unlimited amounts of milk.  However, he did not have an increase in initiating potty trips, which I found to be perplexing and frustrating.  By day four, he was beginning to get adamant about not sitting on the potty, and on day five, he had a 20 minute temper tantrum when I asked him to sit on it. 

A friend of mine mentioned that he could always wear pull-ups for the first couple months to school.  The very idea made this earthy-crunchy-cloth-diapering mommy's head nearly explode.  PERISH THE THOUGHT!  I just couldn't bear the thought, and began thinking up ways I could fashion my gDiapers into training pants and then sell them my idea for a million dollars and a sweet "You're Welcome!"  But the next day was Saturday, and Paul was home, so he could be the level-headed person to talk me down from the ledge and help L on his way.

After we came to the conclusion that L's thought process is much different than E's, I started thinking about what other things were different this time around.  I thought that I had fixed the variable of us not being home to potty train, but I didn't realize that it was more than just that.  It was the amount of time I had to really spend with L, playing with him, commenting "Ooops!  You are going pee pee!  Let's get to the bathroom and clean up!" and generally just being there with him in the moment.  In all the moments.   Instead, I was halfway there.  Sure I was around during the day, but so was E, and we weren't 100% focused on the potty, the signs ("Hey, I see you're holding your penis, do you think you might need to go potty?"), or him.  And because of this, I wasn't able to stay positive.  You can't teach a kid to read or swim by screaming at them and getting frustrated each time they make a mistake.  Same thing holds true with potty training. 

So instead of losing my mind and thinking that we would never get this potty training thing done, and would have to pull L out of Amiguitos due to lack of potty skills, I took a deep breath, told myself that he wouldn't be in diapers in college, and kept on with what we were doing, but without the anger, annoyance or frustration.  I made sure to stop L in the middle of what he was doing, look him in the eye to know that he actually was listening to me (because he may hear my voice, but that doesn't mean it sinks in), and I explained to him why I think he should at least try to get some pee pee out.  The first couple of times were met with resistance, but after a while, he became my agreeable little guy again, and was proud of himself every time he peed in the toilet.

On Saturday, we spent most of the day out of the house.  We had to pick up our packets for the Bridge Pedal in downtown Portland.  We rode the Max, picked up our packets, walked through the health expo, and used a public restroom with success.  On the way back, Paul suggested we stop at the zoo, since we have a membership, and we were at the stop, so we did.  Again, lots of walking, lots of fun, a couple public restroom successes, and soon we were home eating dinner with the same dry pants that we had left the house in.  Woo hoo!!  And then during dinner, do you know what happened?  L got stressed out and started whining.  I asked him what was wrong.

"I need to go potty!" he yelled while grabbing his crotch.
"OK, hold it, we'll go right now," I said while carrying him and running to the bathroom.

And do you know what?  He did.  He held it, and then peed in the toilet.  It was something I was expecting on Wednesday that never happened.  And when I finally accepted the fact that it would take longer for him and that was A-OK, he did it. 

"I go pee pee in toilet, Mommy!"  He said, "I proud me-self!"

And you should be, sweetie, because this is quite an accomplishment!

On Sunday, we rode in the Bridge Pedal and spent the entire day out of the house in downtown Portland.  I didn't expect him to tell me if or when he needed to go, so I simply reminded him every few hours to give it a try.  He did, stayed dry, and that was great.

Today, he has initiated every potty trip, including one right before falling asleep for nap, even though he had his "nap-time" diaper on.

Dude, you rock in so many ways, and should be so proud of yourself.  Against so many odds (not the least of which is a mommy who keeps trying to apply things that worked for your sister to your unique self), you have been able to figure this out and get it done.  And because of this, you get to go to Spanish school in the fall, something you've wanted to do since your sister started. 

As for me, I see the light at the end of the diaper tunnel, and every day, I'm even more certain that it isn't a train.

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