We bought Soren a Bjorn potty chair a few months ago. It’s red, awesome, and Soren pretty much loves it. We also bought him the book Potty by Leslie Patricelli, who writes the most precious and adorable of all children’s board books. Love them. Soren would sit and sit and sit on the potty all the live long day without any production. Would immediately wet his diaper afterwards. One day, I let him know that he would get a chocolate chip if he peed, and he immediately complied. This is where we were with potty training for the past couple of months. Just casually getting comfortable with it.
About a month ago, he told us that he needed to poop and then proceeded to do so in the potty (the big potty, no less). Yes, I am writing a blog about my child’s elimination. I have two master’s degrees, so I get to litter the internet with mindlessly boring therapy sessions about being a mama. You don’t actually need any degrees to do that, so never mind. Sorry. I have an interesting internal life! Really!
Ahem. Soren loves undies. The last page in Potty is just the word “Undies!” surrounded by pictures of various interesting floating underpants. We had a few pairs of undies from his Christmas stocking at Papa and Grammy’s, and I recently bought a few pairs of the thicker, looser (easier for him to pull up and down himself) Gerber training pants as well as a pack of Lego Batman undies, mostly for Louis’ benefit (unfortunately, the 2T-3T size does not fit him at this time).
In the past few weeks, I’ve started kicking off the day with undies and then taking Soren to the potty every 15-30 minutes. In the morning he’ll be a total champ, and he’s even been pooping in the potty in the mornings the past couple of days. After nap though (and he’s usually dry after his nap if I take him fast enough), it goes downhill fast. Sometimes he’ll refuse to wear undies or he’ll sit on the potty indefinitely without anything happening (despite generous encouragement!) and then he’ll wet his pants within five minutes. Almost every single afternoon, he’ll wet his pants at least 4-5 times (just between 3 and 7). He also tends to just go a tiny bit at a time, which is totally maddening. Yesterday, I only needed to take him every 30 minutes and he rocked it. We went for a bike ride and hike on Saturday, and he kept himself dry the whole time (and peed in the woods when prompted). Then today, I was in a horrible mood, Soren behaved like a wee deaf child all day, and a girl at our gym (which will go unnamed) childcare told me to just put him in Pull Ups next time (he had one accident, was wearing plastic pants over his undies, and I fail to see how changing a diaper once is much different than swapping out a pair of undies one time- he didn’t even get his pants wet). He wet his pants so much at dinner that it ran off his booster and puddled dramatically all over the dining room. I then left him with Daddy and went to the store for some quiet time.
Last Wednesday, I declared that I had been too ambitious, that this was more about competition than responding to Soren’s readiness cues, that I would rather keep him in diapers. I washed the handful of BumGeniuses that had accumulated in the bin over the past few days, and slapped a diaper on him. Didn’t even ask him to go pee on the potty between changes. I said we were done at least until we got back from the THREE (One, Two, Three!) trips we are taking in the next month’s time. I took the readiness quizzes in two potty training books I had picked up, fully expecting to see “step away from the potty training book and no one gets hurt.” NOPE. Well within the bounds of “why didn’t you start this sooner, you loser?” on both of them. Oh well, I figured my try again in a month plan was the best plan of all of the plans.
The next morning, naturally, Soren refused to let me put on a diaper and begged for undies. And had the best day yet! Of course, I let him pick out a bag of Skittles (the most brightly colored bag in the checkout line, not that he had any idea what they were) and hot damn, he was motivated to keep his undies dry (1 skittle!), go pee in the potty (1 skittle!), and Poop in the potty (2 skittles!). He figured out the currency system and drooled rainbow all over his t-shirts for a few consecutive days. Such a champ. Such a champ, in fact, that I backed the reinforcement off this morning: 1 skittle for a combined dry diaper and pee in the potty, and 1 more for a poop in the potty. And today was a total train wreck.
Ok, that’s not completely true. He did pretty well this morning. He used the potties at a coffee shop, the library, and the gym and stayed dry on a long walk until we stopped at the park afterwards. He had what felt like a million accidents, but in hindsight was really closer to 5. A couple were pretty big ones, though. And come to think about it, he drank a lot more than he usually does.
So, I was planning to ask for advice, and maybe I still am? Should I give it a rest? Louis suggested taking the candy out of it completely to see if he’s really ready to potty train or if he’s just performing for candy. He gets excited about his success, but he rarely initiates. Maybe he likes the game of it, but he’s not quite to the holding it when he realizes he has to go? I’ve left him in the wet undies a few times just to make sure he really gets why it’s not good to wet his pants, we tried to encourage him to not get Batman wet, and he has decreased his frequency and increased his quantity, as a rule. However, if he says, “No no pee pee in undies!” I know it’s too late, and that’s really as close as he gets to initiating unless it’s with poop (when I usually have a minute or two to get him to the potty chair after he tells me it’s a no no to poop in undies). Is it normal for him to not be interested in initiation of potty time? We’ve been reading him children’s potty books like they’re going out of style and talking up how grown ups and big kids all use the potty and not diapers. We’ve been demonstrating ourselves for months and months (going to the bathroom by myself is a treat these days). I packed all the BumGeniuses away in his closet with hopes that I can strip them and stick them into the storage room soon. Thinking that maybe the lack of visual cue of diapers would do the trick?
Somebody say something. While I’m overwhelmingly ready to just slap a BumGenius (adorable, waterproof, easy BumGenius!) back on him tomorrow, I’m also afraid of waffling constantly between potty training and not. Isn’t that more confusing than anything? Aren’t I supposed to be an expert on child behavior? Holy cow, applying the parenting techniques and research with which I am intimately acquainted is not so much the easy part. Mama needs a time out, let’s just put it that way. Another way: I am finally ok with summer ending and work starting up again (at my awesome, amazing, challenging job that I adore). Six whole weeks until regularly scheduled days to talk about grown up things (ok, other people’s children and their learning needs, but still)? Too many days.
Quick, someone tell me I’m not ruining my child!