Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Third Times the Charm

Being a parent is a difficult job.  Plus, there's no concrete way to measure if you are actually doing a good job and not, in fact, slowly f@#$ing your kid up in new and exciting ways that will later be documented in psychology journals.  When you have a job, you get reviews, and pay raises and there are meetings to discuss your goals.  When you stay at home, your primary goal is to manage to wash both you and your child and to feed yourself and said child three nutritious meals a day, and maybe, just maybe get some laundry done too.  Maybe.  That can be pushing it, depending on the day.  There's no real way to measure your success at parenting, until your kids are out of the house and raising their own kids.  Maybe then you can sit back and say softly that you did alright after all.

As you parent there are small milestones out there, and when your child reaches them, you do briefly feel sigh of relief and a feeling of "I might be doing a good job" might briefly envelope you like a warm Snuggie.  When I pumped breast milk with my boobs attached to a machine like Vermont Heifer for six months, I felt I accomplished something.  When Bean first slept through the night, I thought, ever so briefly, that I had the hang of this mommy business.  When Bean's words gradually became sentences, I marveled at her intelligence and thought, maybe, just maybe I had a part in that.  Nothing however, comes close to the sheer joy and pride that I feel when I say, Bean is potty trained.*

I feel a thrill with every tinkle in the her potty.  She did it.  And now, she's figuring out how to hold her pee and to tell me when she has to go.  I'm so impressed by her, but I also can't believe that I was resolute enough to stick this one out because let me tell you-it was hard!  How could something so biologically necessary and important be so difficult to get a toddler to grasp?  Why would they want to wallow in their own feces?  My preference would be for clean underwear always, and yet, somehow, the habit of crapping and peeing in your pants in difficult to break when you are two years old.

And so I attacked the potty training problem with my own soon-to-be patented three-prong method.  First, I made this awesome chart and for every poop, pee, wipe, flush and washed hands, Bean received a sticker.  Not just any sticker, but a Disney princess sticker.  Bean also got a potty watch that rang every hour, reminding us both to use the potty.  And finally, Bean received a special treat when she pooped on the potty.  The special treats were small items; a coloring book, stickers, Cinderella paper dolls.  Once she felt comfortable enough to poop on the potty, her need for the special treats diminished almost immediately.

I gave Bean thick padded underwear for our adventure in potty training too.  Pull-ups are essentially diapers, so when she peed or pooped in them, she never really felt it or at least she wasn't uncomfortable by it.  With underwear, she feels it.  It is messy.  Oh, so messy.  That first week, I was bleaching everything and constantly washing underwear.  I was so cranky.  Part of me thought that Bean should just get it.  Why would she continually poop/pee on herself?  And then I saw it, going to the potty was an interruption in her day.  Why stop to poop, when you can just soil yourself and keep playing.  And so so I made potty time fun.  There was books, and puppets and songs and eventually, she didn't mind going to the potty.

Pooping on the potty evaded us for a solid week and half.  My bag of special treats remained stubbornly full, and Bean happily pooped in her underwear.  I studied the situation and figured out two things:  One, she liked to poop in her room when she was alone.  Two, she was afraid of ruining her princess dress.  Did I mention that potty training also coincided with Bean exclusively wearing princess/ballerina costumes?  And so I brought a potty up to her room after lunch because she always poops after lunch.  I stripped her down and told her that she could have naked potty time alone in her room.  I told her when she felt some poop coming, run and sit on potty and call me.  Sure enough, within five minutes of me leaving the room, she called me back in to look at her poop.

We certainly have accidents.  I say "we" because I'm 27 weeks pregnant and if I sneeze, well, I wet my own pants.  There are tantrums.  There are accidents.  There are messes, but something clicked in her brain and my baby girl is potty trained.  Today she even told her pre-school teacher that she had to use the potty.  I actually cried when the teacher told me.  Let me say that again, I cried because my almost three-year old told her teacher she had to make peeps (which is what she calls pee).  I'm proud of her, but also of me.  We did it together.  And the lack of diapers and pull-ups clogging up my closet is actually something tangible to measure.

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