I won’t go so far as to say I’ve won…but I think the turning point has finally arrived. And thank the gods for that.
Sharkbait has been four for about a month now, and he’s been mostly potty trained since he figured out peeing standing up (which was just this spring). I say mostly potty trained because we still hadn’t conquered night time and pooping on the potty. And then, I decided to try keeping training pants on him at night, and the only thing left was the pooping.
Chickadee was easy by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, being a first time parent of what I thought was a certified Perfect Child (TM), I thought she should be potty trained shortly after walking and her first full sentence. So, I dutifully put her on the potty after waking, after eating, after drinking, cheered for any successes like a cheer for the winning team at a major sports event (if you cheer for that sort of thing) and praised the good attempts the rest of the time. When, a few months later, it seemed like she wasn’t on my timeline, I (metaphorically) put away the potty chair (literally, I just stuck it in the corner of the bathroom to get dusty) in disgust, depression, and certainty that I had failed my daughter the chance of True Success (TM).
At two, with renewed optimism, I tried all those supposedly time-tested, mother/doctor/author approved methods (you know, those really smug parenting books that could make a rocket scientist feel like an idiot): the three days of being chained to the bathroom approach, M&M’s, sticker charts (heck, I even blogged about it)…with no avail. Thankfully, for her sanity and for mine, I read a (otherwise not that great) book (I think it was one of the “Girlfriend’s Guide to ______” books) that offered the most brilliant observation: regardless of what you do, your child will be potty trained in their own time and on their own schedule when they are ready, so you can stop forcing the issue and let them do their thing. And it worked! On her third birthday, I told her that she wouldn’t get to go to school unless she went potty like a big girl, and that was it. Instantly potty trained kid.
Then there is Kid #2 (oh, the irony that #2 should be our issue)–I tried the “let it go approach”…and if pooping on the potty had been defeated around the same time that peeing on the potty was, I’m sure I could have breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally diaper free. Except day after day and week after week went on with Sharkbait waiting to poop until he had is night-time diaper on…and I had a kid I needed to get into preschool.
I’m not sure if its been a control thing, or that ADHD+sitting still+small child=impossible, but calling it a war is not an overstatement (a war of wills). Sharkbait would first bring me a diaper to put on him when he needed to poop, and then (when I finally refused to put a diaper on him, and tried to sit him on the potty) he figured out how to get his own diaper and put it on. Things escalated when I hid the diapers in an attempt to coax him into surrendering to the potty…and he decided just to poop in his pants. So I made him ride home from the bookstore in poopy pants (pants that he pooped in not 5 minutes after sitting on the potty after eating lunch)…and in retaliation (and a dislike of poopy pants) he started holding it for days on end until he complained that his tummy hurt and figured out where I hid the diapers.
I was not looking forward to being the parent dealing with the constipation cycle that comes with fecal retention (one of the official names for ‘poop holding’). So today, when he complained that his tummy hurt, I fed him a Happy Meal (admittedly a bad nutritional choice, but I’ve never met anyone that didn’t poop after McD’s) and some apple sauce and ran him around the block a few times before sitting him on the potty.
My son does not give in easily.
We sat there for nearly two hours.
Chickadee even brought her homework into the bathroom, so I could help her while trying to make sure Sharkbait stayed on the potty (staying on the potty has always been a big problem). I tried taking away every distraction to be found in the bathroom, offering supportive companionship and book reading during his tribulaions, out and out bribery of a special treat that Chickadee had picked out for them. No dice.
At the almost two hours mark, I called my mother. I was tired, battle-weary from matching wills with a four-year old with stubbornness of General Patton. Thank goodness for an old salt like my momma! After three kids (and she’s a nurse), my mom’s solution was to stand strong with bribery, and resort to the big guns if necessary (the kid hadn’t pooped in three days). She reminded me that “this is a normal thing” and “I’m not the first parent with a kid that holds his poop” and that “it could be worse” (all of which Google confirms).
So, I told the kid to stay on the potty for one more try while I went to move the clothes from the washer to the drier. Not even two minutes later, my nekkit kid comes zooming into the laundry room with the exuberant exaltation “I POOPED MOMMY, I POOPED ON THE POTTY!”
This is all the funnier when you find out that I live in an apartment and the laundry room is (literally) right next to our apartment. Sharkbait ran out the front door, in November, in his birthday suit, just to announce with glee and pride that he had (finally, thank the gods) pooped on the potty, and that Mommy needed to come and see this wondrous event ASAP.
Needless to say, I cheered like a football fan when the home team wins the Super Bowl (I refrained from taking a picture of this milestone<–does not link to the picture, but rather the story of it). And then I scolded him for a) going outside without permission and b) going outside without clothes on. Although, that was probably lost on him when I then gave him a piece of rock candy as his treat for pooping on the potty.
We’ve done the deed another two times since.
I ‘m hoping that the end of this war is near because I’m losing my voice from the cheering.