Oh, the things we do for poop…sigh…
On the surface I looked like I had the PT stage down. Selah started wanting to sit on the potty at 15 months and by 18 months was potty trained. I admitted to everyone that I hated it. She was tiny. We’re talking about a child who walked at 9 months, but didn’t wear 9 month clothes until she was 18. It was a pain that she was so regularly insistent and had to be lifted on the potty until she grew.
She did backtrack for a few months out of pure confusion. You see, when mommy was doing nothing but stand over the potty and puke for months, she assumed that she should switch to that method too. Obviously, it caused more accidents, not to mention awkward stares in public restrooms when people heard this tiny little chica and her perfect imitation of mommy’s upchuck. Luckily, my morning stopped… the DAY Jacob was born. Three days later she went back to full time panties and never looked back.
Jacob was a little bit more work. Unlike Selah, I did actually have to show some initiative and put some work into PTing him, but he was still in underwear before his second birthday. Easy breezy. I knew it wasn’t the norm. I knew that I was handed two children who were blessed with an uncanny early awareness of their bowels. And anytime I heard someone say “Ask Talitha, she REALLY knows how to potty train ’em.” I’d cringe to my core. I’ve readily admitted from the beginning that I am not a PTing genius and that one of these offspring of mine would eventually prove it.
ENTER Lucas into the scene. As with my other kids, I started exposing them to the potty early but it was clear that this one had absolutely zero interest. He was over two before he accidentally peed in it. He had absolutely no recognition of it, though, since he would readily pee on any chair, the couch, bed or person he happened to be sitting on. at 2 1/2 i figured I’d done a good job at being patient and humble about my true inability to ‘make’ my kid take to the PTing. So I started more in earnest. For about 2 weeks. Then stopped…. and that has been the cycle for the last year.
Now here we are at 3 1/2. We have tried complimenting, rewarding, timers, stickers, charts, calling grandma to brag, calling Papi at work, naked, clothed, strapping him to the potty in front of the TV, reading books on the potty, locked in the bathroom, staying home, going to IKEA as rewards, going for ice cream for rewards, chocolate, books, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement… and unfortunately too much screaming, crying and hiding in the corner… from me, not him. I expected him to take longer, and by that way I think I subconsciously meant ‘No way in hell past his third birthday.’
I keep thinking “Thank you Lord for this opportunity to learn humility. Have I got it yet?” I have moments where I think that I’m losing my mind. That my brain cells are literally washing down the drain with the poop that I spray off of his underwear… again.
Frst of all, the kid clearly has a pattern. He doesn’t pee in his pants. He’s been pee-trained since last spring. It’s all #2, and he couldn’t care less. The child will walk around for hour, perfectly content to stink up the whole house and be uncomfortable. He’ll get rashes and still hide it. He’ll poop in his pants less than 5 minutes after I put him on the potty. He. Just. Doesn’t. Care. Letting him run around the house naked was the closest we got to being successful. He would hold it and not poop on the floor, but would also go digging though drawers to find something to poop in. I had to hide every pair of underwear or pants from him because he would literally go find oen and put it on to poop in. While he wouldn’t have accidents naked, he would wait until I was forced to put him in something to go somewhere, or he would wait and poop during his nap or at night. Not on the potty.
His pattern is pretty predictable and I decided it’s time for me to manipulate it. Every morning that I try to go to the Y after dropping Jacob off at school, he poops in his pants and the childcare staff there hate me for it. Aha! So mid morning is pretty predictable, right? He also has a fantastic habit of going in his pants right about 2:58 in the afternoon, right in time to make getting in the car and picking up both kids on time a logistical nightmare. Sadly, I’ve realized over the last few weeks of trying more consistently to get him poop-trained that this is a very consistent occurrence.
So on January 28th when the boy was officially 3 1/2, mommy decided to get extreme. I know, it’s crazy. I went and bought a package of suppositories, drove to my moms house to retrieve my extra child gate and went home to crack down on the crap. The next morning I headed straight home from taking Jake to school, put Eden down for her nap and headed to the bathroom with Lucas. I talked to him about being a big boy and pooping on the potty. I put up the gate in the bathroom door and sat ont he floor with him to read some books. I was a little worried about using the suppositories to get him to poop. I’m aware that this is extreme, as is locking him in the bathroom naked. But I finally decided that I had to take the Austin Powers approach and say “Who does number 2 work for???”
I did use the suppositories twice a day for those first 3 days. I thought long and hard about it first. Many people have suggested Metamucil or some other laxative, but with the way those go through the digestive track iit can really cause a lot of abdominal pain and discomfort. The suppository will take 1/2 an hour or more for the medicine to really desolve but often will give the urge to push it out long before that. They are safe to use up to 10 days and I had no intention of using them that long. And they’re really tiny. Every time I gave him one we talked abut the medicine helping the poop come out of his bottom and he never seemed too bothered by it. He didn’t like it, but didn’t complain any more than eating broccoli. That’s healthy, right? So here was the breakdown
Days 1-3: Pooped at 10:45 and 3:02. Both times within 10 minutes of the suppository, with mommy sitting on the floor playing together until he decided he felt the urge and got on the potty by himself.
Day 4: Locked him in the bathroom both times for 15 minutes by himself first to play, telling him he had some time to try and see if he could poop before we used the medicine. Came back, used the medicine. Pooped within 5 minutes. Both times.
Day 5: Put him in the bathroom in the AM and he pooped within the 15 minutes without the medicine. In the afternoon gave him longer, but still didn’t go. Used the sup. and he pooped before I was out of the bathroom again.
Day 6: BOth times played for a few minutes and then called me to come look at his poop in the potty.
Day 7 : miserable day, I missed both poop times and it was a disaster. Read about it HERE
Day 8: Even worse. He pooped his pants twice before noon, once being at Chickfila with a friend who at least has 2 boys herself and gets it. The moms in the playground with looks of horror and their cute little toddlers did not. I publicly apologize here for letting my huge 3 1/2 year old stink it up in there. I lost it and called a friend bawling like a baby because I’m just. so. over. it. She advised me not to cave and put him back in diapers. To just chalk it up to a bad 2 days and get back on track. So I went home and decided to spend some special time with him just playing and not talking/focusing on it. Put him in the bathroom after picking the older two up from school and he pooped like a champ. My hero.
We’ve had a couple of accidents since then but we’re doing pretty good. My ultimate goal is to have him PTed for my lovely mother-in-law who is graciously watching him for the long weekend next week so that I can go to Illinois with my mom. I think I may send the baby gate for her, but I think he’ll do it.
I’ve discovered the key is to not make a big deal out the accidents. This felt absolutely impossible with now nasty they were, until a wise friend said, “Just plan on the accidents and prepare for how you want to handle them, instead of focusing on avoiding them.” If I am expecting them, it doesn’t feel like a failure or a shock. I’ve stopped the daily wondering of if “we’re done” and just decided to focus on “we’re at today.” It just may take another few weeks of timing them to catch him. I’ve stopped telling him about the crappiness of the poop. Meaning “See how stinky it is? And dirty? Doesn’t it feel gross?” He’s heard it enough. He gets it. I think I let it cross the line into being discouraging because I’ve said it too much. Instead for the last couple of accidents I’ve jsut said “Well lets go clean it up. Ib et you’ll make it to the potty next time.” I can see the relief on his little face that he doesn’t have to worry about doing something wrong. It’s done. We’re moving on to the next one to try and catch it…
So that’s where we’re at. He knows I’ll use the medicine if I have to but he hasn’t needed it. Ultimately, his accidents have been when he’s playing especially hard or I’ve totally forgotten the time to remind him. HEck, yesterday he even went running in the bathroom on his own to go, and it wasn’t just pee! We’re getting there, one poop at a time. But I can officially use this as proof that I am NOT the person to look to for potty training advice and tricks. I can certainly now offer a more sympathetic ear and shoulder to cry on though. Seriously, as my sweet, loving mother said to me last week when I called her at my whits end, “Shit happens. you just gotta be patient with it.” That’s the way it is.