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Posts Tagged ‘potty’

Conversation over dinner the day after I came home from my spa weekend, proof that T watched hours Food TV with the kids while I was away:

L: Mommy, this is so good!

me: Thanks, L, glad you like it.

L: The pasta is cooked perfectly. And I love how the sauce is sweet and peppery at the same time. It tastes really good in my mouth. (This is all said with utmost seriousness, like a bona-fide food critic.)

me: Wow, thanks, L. That’s a really nice complement.

L: Yes. The sauce is very complemented.

On another night:

“All this flavorment is so great and awesome! I love the flavors and the, like, YUM.”

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S is fully potty trained. Yay! She now drops trou wherever and whenever she needs to pee. I have to keep a steady eye on this. Middle of the playground? In the library? Supermarket? Some places are better than others for this. Also, she is very independent and doesn’t always tell me when she’s going to go. I was outside with both kids and naturally paying attention only to my iPhone. I look up and S is running around with pants around her ankles. Soaking wet pants around her ankles. She’s not good at aiming, or pulling pants up apparently, but she’s perfectly willing to pee on the grass. Atta girl!

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Conversation in the car:

L: Mommy, did you know that peregrine falcons eat their own poop?

me: Really? Is that true? Did you learn that on Wild Kratts?

L: Yep. They eat it because they don’t have any other food.

me: Huh.

L: I mean, they have food. But they don’t have any money.

me: Peregrine falcons don’t have any money?

L: In their whole country there’s not enough money to buy a car to get the food home from the store.

me: And that’s why they eat their own poop?

L: It’s to survive.

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The fact that S blows kisses to me when she says goodbye has lost a little bit of its meaning ever since I saw her saying “bye-bye pee-pee” and blowing kisses towards the toilet as she flushed.

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I’ve mentioned before L’s favoring T over me. Nothing has changed on this front. On a recent Friday night L said to me at bedtime, “Daddy’s getting me up tomorrow. Can you please sleep or just stay in your room for a long long time?”

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S is proudly showing L all of her “artwork.” Instead of ignoring her and paying attention to the movie he’s watching. He hops off the couch and sits down in front of S. With each piece she displays, he exclaims, “It’s wonderful! That’s so beautiful! You made that?”

Heart melts. In moments like these I can almost (almost) forgive him for teaching S to say “Mommy is a stupid idiot.”
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Motherhood is a multifaceted job – much like a gemstone that you hold in your hand turning in the light watching the angles and corners and surfaces glimmer and shine different, unexpected ways, only with more poop. As a mom I’m both hero and villain. I’m playmate and disciplinarian, teacher and student, and a bunch of other less glamorous things like chef, maid, coffee-chugger, insomniac, bathroom coach, and budding alcoholic. I have more roles than I can list because new ones arise every day. Am I an expert nail cutter, splinter-getter-outer? I am now. And, as a feather in my lovely mom-cap, as one last sexy thing I do, I plunge toilets. Often.

Indoor plumbing was not made with L in mind. His small body produces surprisingly unflushable waste. And to exacerbate the unflushable situation further, he apparently cannot learn the appropriate amount of toilet paper one needs. Although he frequently throws his dirty toilet paper in the garbage, (Oh, yeah, I’m also dirty toilet paper garbage digger. I’m so hot.)  he does sometimes remember to dispose of these enormous bunches of paper in the toilet.

We all watch the toilet flush murmuring “please, please, please” under our collective breaths.

Usually I catch it in time before an actual overflow. I can plunge while holding that ball thing up in the back while defensively body checking small curious people out of the way. Sometimes I’m too late. Then I’m standing in a growing puddle of horror, while plunging, and screaming for small curious people to go far far away.

I hate this job.

This job, and so many others like it, is what it means to be a grown-up. As a kid I really wanted to be a grown-up. I had romantic ideas of doing whatever I wanted (ha!) whenever I wanted (haha!) and staying up late (hahaha!). I thought I’d wear fabulous clothes (snort!) and lead and exciting life (sob!). Had I known that being a grown-up actually entailed so much toilet plunging and other people’s body parts and fluids then I might have relished my childhood a little more. I might have enjoyed my irresponsibility, the fact that the buck never stopped here.

What are your responsibilities that let you know you’ve finally arrived at adulthood?
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I am no good at potty training. I lose patience. I can’t stand the constant need to visit every gross bathroom everywhere. I hate reading books to a non-productive potty sitter who really just wants to get to the toilet paper and wash her hands. I hate faking enthusiasm at non-accomplishments like peeing on the floor or sitting on the potty and doing nothing.

This is why I’ve been ignoring S’s readiness. She tells me when she’s wet. She tells me before she poops. She loves to sit on her potty. She brings me the board books about going potty. She puts on L’s underpants. Considering that this child of mine knows about 5 words (hyperbole), I think she’s communicating pretty effectively.

So, today I made a half-assed attempt. It was a rainy day with just S and me at home together. I have a giant bag of hand-me-down underpants from my twin nieces. (Is that weird? I can’t decide if it’s gross or not.) So, on a lark, I put a pair on S. I said to her, “Now tell mommy if you have to pee.” About one second later she pointed to her crotch and said “pop, pop.” Used to just inventing what I think she’s trying to tell me I replied, “That’s right, you have underpants on. Just tell mommy when you have to pee.” Again with the crotch pointing and the “pop, pop.” Again with the “That’s right, just let me know when you have to pee.”

Naturally, she was letting me know that she had to pee. Since I completely missed her obvious signals she peed on the carpet. Ugh. Back into a diaper and off to Target to buy training pants which a friend recommended. These are basically a hybrid of underpants and cloth diapers. Back at home I put her in two pair. No more pee on the carpet.

We had umpteen cups of apple juice and spend most of the day switching between the potty seat on the toilet and her little potty. Training pants up, training pants down, a few naked baby runs. Still no actual potty action. She did manage to wet 4 pairs of training pants.

I know that in the grand scheme of potty training this was a just fine first day. The problem isn’t that she’s not getting it or anything like that. The problem is that I’m done. I still have not managed to get her to produce a drop of pee in any potty and I’m ready to throw in the towel and be totally exasperated with her. I know that this makes me a total a-hole, but it is what it is.

I have to find some potty zen. Remember awhile back when I got all zenned out? I need to do that again. Pee on the carpet? Who cares, Man. As long as we all love each other…

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When do I get to not be involved in my kids’, er, elimination? I want to not know and not care when or if they’ve pooped. I want it to be their problem. I’m sick of wrestling, reminding, wiping, reading to etc. I’m so sick of it all.

S is at the squirm stage. Think spooked greased pig amped up on red bull. But she’s still the easy one.

L has poop issues. He withholds, which is the most frustrating, annoying, infuriating, maddening thing in the world. I never could have guessed that another person’s bowel movements could have such an effect on me. Never in a million years.

We have a new plan. It involves a “treasure chest” full of small toys and rewards that he earns by not putting up a fight when it’s time to go. He is so excited about the treasure chest. He talks about the treasure chest. He constantly wants to check on the treasure chest. And yet, he has so far not earned any treasure. His aversion to pooping is stronger than his desire for new matchbox cars, batman tattoos and lollipops.

My job is to pretend I don’t care. If I take the power out of it all, it won’t be a power struggle, right? I can’t do it. I do care. It bothers me to see him squirm because he can barely hold it in any longer. And yet he holds it. It bothers me that he can’t eat his meals because he has to poop so badly. It bothers me that he’s awake in his room until 9 or 10 at night because he can’t fall asleep because he is holding in what really just wants to come out.

This new plan is plan number high-number. This has been going on since his 1.5-year-old sister was born. I can’t stand it. I know that one day when he’s a teenager with teenage problems I may wish for these smaller problems of a small child. Well, people tell me that anyway. But right now this feels like a big problem. L’s poop or lack thereof shapes my days. When he’s gone he’s a happy, cooperative child. When he hasn’t he’s grumpy, contrary and looking for a fight.

His poop, my pain in the ass.

 

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Conversation in the bathroom:

L: I almost fell in the toilet!

me: You need to grow a bigger tushie so you won’t fall in.

L: A big tushie like you, Mommy?

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I’m sure you’ve all been wondering about and losing sleep over L’s poop issues. I was going to write this great post about how he hasn’t had any Miralax for almost 2 weeks, and he’s been going, without that much of a fight, a couple of times per day with nary a pooped-in pair of undies to be tossed! I’ve been ruminating on this great update post in my mind for the last day or two.

Then just now happened. Just now is not a good mommy moment for me. It’s bedtime. The kid has gotta go. It’s obvious. He stands like he’s gotta go; he squirms like he’s gotta go; he smells like he’s gotta go. So, I tell him it’s time to go.

“NO! I DON’T POOP ANYMORE! I WILL HOLD IT IN FOREVER!!” Out of nowhere. Suddenly tears.

Next comes me trying reason, trying kindness, trying scary-serious voice, trying wrestling and finally giving up and picking the kid up, tossing him into his bedroom while saying (yelling), “Fine! Then you can go straight to bed with no books, no PJ’s, and no brushing your teeth! Your teeth will all rot right out of your head!” Door slams.

He’s upstairs now crying, “Get me out of here!”

I am the best.mom.ever. Anyone want some advice? Come to me! I’m sooooo good at this. I can’t believe that it’s actually my job to raise this child without entirely fucking him up. Clearly, I’m not capable of this.

Hang on, here he comes….

OK, it’s now 20 minutes later. L came down fairly calm. I asked if he was ready to go and he said yes and went. Then asked, “Are you so proud of me?” I told him that I was not. That I would have been proud if he just went in the first place. Mean, I know.

Well, now he’s in bed fully evacuated at least. I suck at this job.

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One day when L was 22 or 23 months old he asked to poop on the potty. Positive that nothing would come of it, I said sure and popped him onto the toilet. To my utter amazement, he pooped and peed and asked for underpants. So began L’s potty training. We went to the store that day and bought some underpants.

To encourage his potty interest, I rewarded him with 1 m&m for pee and 2 for poop. We spent the next few days at home, drinking lots of juice, spending waaaaaaay more time than I liked in our tiny downstairs bathroom, and having m&ms.

The m&ms were a huge hit. He had never had any candy before and I think they blew his mind. For the next several months, I continued with the m&m rewards. L was only too happy to go to the bathroom back in those days! But that’s not the point of this story. Unintentionally, I ingrained in his mind a very strong association between m&ms and going potty. I don’t think it ever occurred to him that m&ms exist outside of that paradigm. Until, one day, I took him to a puppet show.

This was a huge mistake. The whole endeavor was a disaster and I should have known better. At 2, L was even less capable of sitting still or following a plot than he is now. The show was a marionette version of the story of Perseus. WTF was I thinking? We arrive and hit the potties first thing. On our way back to our seats we pass the concession stand; feeling generous and still naively excited for our outing, I bought L some chips. L is so excited to be in the theater. He’s barely big enough to hold the folding seat down, but he’s determined and he sits, waits, and munches on chips. This is going to be great!

Waiting has never been one of L’s strengths. Soon he’s restless and bored. He notices two girls, maybe 11 or 12 years old, sitting in the row in front of us, but 5 or 6 seats down to our right. They are eating m&ms. (Were you wondering how this was going to tie in?) A whole big bag of m&ms. L has never seen a large bag of m&ms, never seen m&ms aside from the 1 or 2 he’d get for going potty. He was amazed, fascinated and wanted to know everything. “Mommy! Look! Doze girls go potty?” “Shhh, L.”

I can’t stop what happens next. The lights begin to fade. L leans over the chair in front of him (yes, it’s occupied) to get the girls’ attention. “Girls! Hey! Girls! ‘Cuze me! You go poop on the potty?” This is loud. Everyone is looking, including the girls, who are mortified. I pull, I hush, I hold him on my lap. I try to make him (and everyone) pay attention to the show that’s beginning on stage. But L is determined to find out how one gets hold of a huge bag of m&ms. What exactly does he have to do on the potty to get that? He needs to know.

He continues to harass the poor, humiliated girls. “Was it big poops? Pee too?” It couldn’t get worse for these girls. I was able to distract him for a few minutes with the show, but he quickly realized that he didn’t know wtf was going on, and he was too young to even get wtf marionettes were. Somehow, naturally, all the other kids in the audience were watching quietly.

We stayed for maybe 20 minutes. Definitely 20 minutes too long. Every couple of minutes he lurched forward again to re-humiliate the girls by asking detailed questions about their bowel movements. Of course, no one had any idea why my son was so curious about any of this. This m&m association is just his own. Those poor girls.

I finally dragged him out of there while he screamed “BUT I WANT TO KNOW IF THEY POOPED!” I yelled at him the whole drive home. I promised I would never take him anywhere ever again. And we soon stopped the m&m reward system altogether.

I was reminded of this story today when a friend offered some m&ms to L. He’s now seen them here and there and the association has worn off. Stupidly, I will probably take L to another marionette show at some point in his life.

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Privacy. Remember that? Let me paint a picture for you: I’m perched on the toilet. The baby is hellbent on getting to the garbage can to my left, so I have one leg pressed against the wall to prevent her from getting there. She’s whining and crying as she tries her best to wedge her head between my shin and the wall. As if that’s not enough, L is suddenly fascinated about how I possibly can pee without having a penis so he’s on the other side of me trying to get behind me so he can get his head down under my butt to have a good view. (Yes, I mean get his head into the toilet behind and under me. WTF?) This is all a little close for comfort.

Public bathrooms are even a worse scene. Ever since L could walk, which unfortunately was 10 months, he has been impossible to contain in a bathroom stall. He has regularly opened doors to expose me (this still happens). Not so bad in a ladies room, really fucking embarrassing if in a single bathroom in, say, a restaurant. He also regularly has climbed under stalls to check out the neighbors. I’m sure they thought I was a horrible mom, but I’M SITTING ON THE TOILET MID-STREAM! I can’t get up and grab the little bugger! I then have the humiliating and infuriating task of coaxing him out of whatever stall he’s in, all while apologizing profusely to the poor woman in there with him. “Just climb under the door NOW!” “But me just talking to this lady…” (This happened more, thankfully, when he was 2 and hadn’t yet discovered the word “I” and thus spoke like Captain Caveman.)

I know that moms who work outside the home have a myriad of challenges that I don’t face. They have to juggle things in a way that makes their lives entirely complicated in ways that my life is entirely simple. And I in no way want to start a who-has-it-harder debate – it sucks for all of us.  However, I envy them 2 things: first, and unrelated to this post, I envy their commute. I don’t care if you’re crammed in a subway, sitting in traffic or whatever, you are ALONE and responsible for only yourself. Second, their daily trips to the bathroom while at work. I swear I’d spend all day in there.

I know I can leave the kids out of the bathroom and I do sometimes, but it does make me nervous when they’re alone together. L has a way of making that baby scream bloody murder without leaving a mark. By the time I get there, he’s innocent as an angel putting away his books or something (yeah, right!). “What? I didn’t do nuckin’!” (Do your preschoolers talk like thugs too?)

Ashamed to say that on those rare occasions when T and I go out to dinner alone, I relish the time not with my husband, but my time in the bathroom the most. I apply lipstick. I fix my hair. I might even wash my hands twice and actually dry them all the way. Not to mention, I can pee without fear of exposure.

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Warning: as I write this I am in the middle of a battle. I am currently angry. Everything I may say here is the stuff I think while in the throes of this shit. These are not the sane thoughts I may have a few hours from now. After bedtime, after a glass (likely more) of wine.

New parenting strategy sucks and fails. Instead of engaging L in the daily battle for him to poop, I decided to let him do whatever he wants. So, when he pooped a bit in his pants, but still refused to go the rest of the way on the toilet, I said “OK, we’re late to meet our friends, let’s go.” Then, at the playground, when he couldn’t run around with his friends, and he kept going to stand in a corner with his legs crossed in desperation, I let him know that at any time I could take him to the potty at the playground, or we could go home to go potty. He declined. We stayed at the park. Then, when we got home and found that he had pooped more in his pants, I sat him on the toilet. That brings us to now. I had to walk out of the bathroom because I was going to lose it. I was going to get in his face and scream at him that what he’s doing it so stupid. He is refusing to poop, STILL. He is also crying because his bottom is so sore from being filthy all this time. So, leaving my idiot 3-year-old to his own devices does not work. What else can I do? I don’t have the patience or kindness for this.

This is not a potty training thing. L has been potty trained for nearly a year and a half. This is a recent phenomenon that I didn’t originally handle well and it has now turned into a major issue. I give the kid Miralax daily to ensure he does not become constipated. He does, eventually, have at least one bm per day.

I’m at my wit’s end. I quit. I want to holler from the rooftop that I have a malfunctioning 3-year-old for sale.

There, I said it all. I called my child an idiot and you all witnessed it. This is my secret inner dialogue and maybe I really am the only mom who has it. Maybe you are now thinking that this really isn’t a blog you want to read after all, since I’m clearly the meanest mom ever. But this is just where I am right now. And maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe some morsel of this mommy-tantrum is familiar to someone else.

My son is in the other room crying. I am out of my depth. If I can’t handle a 3-year-old’s poop issues, how am I going to manage my kids’ problems when they’re older and the problems are bigger? Obviously I don’t have what it takes.

OK, deep breath. I don’t know if I can say kind things to L right now. But I can read him a book. Here I go.

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About Girls

So I’ve had L and Niece 1 and 2, (5-year-old twin girls,) at my house for a couple of days. I am now going to make sweeping generalizations based on this time with 2 girls:

  1. Girls have tiny bladders. The two of them hit the potty at least 3 times to every 1 trip for L. How do moms of girls get anything done? Potty at home, and then again in the market immediately following? WTF?
  2. Girls have the capacity to be still and quiet. Honestly amazing.
  3. Because they can sit still for so long, girls are able to eat an enormous quantity of food in one sitting, provided the food is to their liking, which is no easy feat. (L is a fantastic eater and can pack away a ton of food, but because he doesn’t have anything resembling an attention span, he can’t actually sit down to eat a big meal.) I made a batch of pancakes and actually had to make more batter because they just wanted to keep eating them. Neither one is overweight, but niece 2 is especially skinny and she ate more pancakes than I could possibly.
  4. Although they are able, girls don’t often choose to be quiet. Instead they’d rather talk loudly, giggle or sing. Lots of singing. More singing than I could have imagined.
  5. If given a box of markers, a pad, and a bag of stickers, girls can sit still and play nicely for hours. Weird!
  6. Girls say the girliest shit. No joke, yesterday Niece 1 said “My heart is full of love. My eyes are hearts. Can you see the hearts in my eyes?”
  7. Girls are afraid of things. Riding bikes, walking down a steep staircase after looking eye-to-eye with a giraffe, being in a crowd in a new place – these things made the girls skittish, (sensibly so, L’s lack of fear corresponds directly with his lack of sense). I did a lot of hand-holding and I’m not used to that. The same hill that had the girls reluctant to step off of their brakes, saw L screaming down it, legs outstretched on either side of his bike, pedals wildly circling, whooping his little happy war cry.
  8. When girls fall down (at least these girls) they cry. It does not matter if they are hurt or not.
  9. Girls stay right underfoot and are most of the time touching me in some way. I’ve never had my toes stepped on so often, nor have I tripped over a kid or two as frequently as in the last 2 days.

I also learned something about L: he will do anything a big girl tells him to. He spent the day yesterday dressed in a skirt, hair up in purple clips, happily announcing that he was a “girlie girl.” This attracted some attention everywhere we went.

I even learned something about myself: I miss my baby S!

In the end it was a successful visit. The girls and L had a wonderful time. I am exhausted and will be happy to have my “peaceful” home back with just L and S. Oh, and baby S looks huge to me after 2 days away.

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When I hear myself say things like “Spiderman doesn’t want to be your friend anymore!” while watching my 3-year-old’s face crumble to tears, I feel like a crazy person. I feel like I must be the worst mom ever. Then, 1/16th of a second later, my attention is brought back to the moment, to my annoying son who refused to go to the potty on time, and pooped in his beloved Spiderman  underpants. I dramatically throw the underpants in the garbage and say “Bye-bye Spiderman! No more cool Spiderman underpants!” Sobs turn to hysterics and I leave the bathroom before I say something I’ll regret. I mean, that I’ll regret more.

Am I the only mom who is crazy? Telling my son that Spiderman doesn’t want to be his friend, while making a big show of throwing Spiderman in the garbage is not so nice. But, in my defense, I did tell the kid a billion times that it looked like he had to go to the bathroom. I did tell him that I wanted to go to the park but we weren’t going to leave until he went to the bathroom. I did offer him books to be read aloud, stickers as trophies and endless maternal pride. I then threatened him with never going to the park again. None of it worked. My son, who has been potty trained for over a year, decided to hold it in past the point when he could. All when a perfectly nice bathroom was just steps away. And worse yet, he now does this nearly every day. Spiderman is not the first friend to find himself in the garbage can. It started with Elmo, Nemo, and even Buzz Lightyear. I have thrown away many, many pairs of pooped-in underpants.

I know that yelling at L is the absolute worst thing to do in this situation. I know it’s a power struggle. I know that I’m giving him issues. Every time I swear I’m going to handle it like I imagine all the other moms I know do. I’ll say “Oh, Honey, that’s OK, next time let’s try to make it to the potty in time.” In fact, I have uttered those very words only to fly into a blind rage moments later, completely annihilating any positive parenting effects of what I just said. I know all of this, and yet, I can’t help it.

I wasn’t born a mom. I was born just a regular person who thinks it’s really annoying if a perfectly capable person chooses to shit his pants instead of just going to the bathroom. I was born a person who thinks your poop smells bad, and I really don’t want to be near it. That’s the person I was for all my life, and now, suddenly, I’m supposed to just flip some secret, yet-to-be-discovered-in-myself-mom-switch and remain calm? Is that what everyone else does?

OK, back to L who is in the bathroom crying. I go in and begin the disgusting process of cleaning him up. He’s such a gross mess that mere toilet paper will not do and I must use baby wipes. As he catches his breath in big gulps, he asks, “Mommy, is it a messy one?” I want to tell him how absolutely gross it is. How bad it all smells. How I have his shit on my hand. How all I want to do is leave him there and go take a shower, (I wonder if I put wine in a sippy cup if I can take it into the shower?), but instead I tell him that yes, it’s a messy one. And next time let’s try to make it to the potty on time. I then put him in a clean pair of Spiderman underpants.

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