Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Craptastic Adventure

Lucy decided in January 2013, when she was two and a half years old, that she wanted to wear panties instead of a diaper. It was a random Wednesday, and I was getting her ready for school when she made the momentous announcement. I excitedly ran to her room, pulling a pair of princess panties (which she had vehemently rejected every day since the day we bought them) from the back of a drawer. I showered her with compliments as I dressed her in her “new” big girl panties. And, I took a huge leap of faith as I dropped her and her unpadded little bottom off at her preschool (along with an emergency Pull-Up, some back-up clothes, and fervent wishes of good luck for her teacher).

Envisioning a glorious diaper-free future (at least for a few months since I was pregnant with our third child at the time), I immediately went to the store and bought a plethora of panties. Dora panties – Check! Kai-lan – Got them! More Disney princesses – Of course! If she liked it, I bought it. As I shopped, I daydreamed about taking Lucy out of the house on a whim, with no diaper bag to weigh me down. I could so clearly envision the carefree months ahead of me in the waning days of my pregnancy with no toddler diapers to change or gag over. Sweet freedom would soon be mine!

And, when I picked up from school Lucy after my shopping spree, how thrilled was I to learn that she had peed in the potty when asked and was still dry! Flushed with this early success, I called my friends and told them the good news. I posted about it on Facebook. This potty training thing would be quick and painless, I was certain. I know people who successfully trained their kids in just three days – why couldn’t Lucy do it too? She was smart, and she was willing!

I researched the most effective training tactics, preparing myself for “potty lockdown.” Lucy’s very own little white potty was placed with reverence on the bathroom floor. My pantry was stocked with tempting treats, and I had a treasure trove of fabulous rewards. I was armed with carpet cleaner, towels, stacks of clean clothes, and total confidence that we were going to get this potty training thing DONE! Lucy was ready. I was ready. I just knew she would be peeing and pooping like a pro before the weekend ended. Triumph over the diaper surely would be ours, right?


I forgot to factor into my grand plan how very, very (did I mention very?) stubborn Lucy is. She was going to wear those panties, and she was going to do it on her terms. And her terms simply did not so much include the potty. She would wear her panties wet, sitting and playing happily as pee seeped into my living room carpet. She would even wear them sagging and stinking with poo. She felt no remorse or shame. She’d piss on Dora, crap on Kai-lan, and defile each and every one of the princesses in turn.

After the first morning dedicated to our intensive potty training, she had yet to actually pee in the vicinity of the potty. Like clockwork, I ushered her to the bathroom every twenty minutes, where she sat on her throne. I spent HOURS sitting at her feet on the hard tile floor, regaling her with stories and entertaining her with games, while I waited to hear that tell-tale tinkle. Getting desperate, I ran the water to try to “help” coax the pee out of her. I even took turns on the potty to show her what to do. But, she obstinately refused to go. At least until she was in the living room, her bedroom, or even the kitchen – there I’d find her, with rivers of pee running down her legs.

ME: Lucy, if you had to pee-pee, why didn’t you go while you were on the potty? We were just in the bathroom!

LUCY: Accidents happen. Right, Mommy?

ME: I think we need to talk about what “accident” means again.

It was worse than housebreaking a new puppy. In fact, I literally lined the halls with pee pads designed for dogs to try to stem the carpet destruction. I was beyond frustrated – why wouldn’t she just use the damn potty? We were both cranky. The tears were flowing freely, just like the pee.

Abandoning my mission to potty train the child in three days, I put an exhausted and emotional Lucy back into a Pull Up for the rest of the afternoon, where she promptly dropped a deuce. With my patience at the breaking point and my nerves on end, I had to re-group. I cleaned her up ONE MORE TIME, convinced her to nap, and settled down myself to re-read all of the articles by the so-called potty training experts, in a desperate search for another strategy.

The next day, we put the diapers away and got back down to potty business. I took Lucy shopping for a brand new and hopefully more inviting potty seat, which she proudly picked out herself. Her bathroom was filled to the brim with potty accoutrements – Elmo on the potty? We had him. A peeing Dora doll – Yes, please! We watched potty-themed DVDs. We sang potty songs and read potty picture books. We played potty-themed games on the iPad. We had charts, stickers, and rewards galore.

And, Lucy continued to follow me into the bathroom every time nature called, watching intently as I peed and shouting her encouragement.

LUCY: You did it, Mommy! I’m so proud of you!

ME: Thank you, Lucy! It’s so easy to put your pee-pee in the potty, see how Mommy did it? I didn’t cry at all! Now, would you like to try to pee-pee on the potty too?

LUCY: No. That’s okay.

I tried my hardest not to react negatively when confronted by her many “accidents.” The result of these efforts? Of this total immersion in all things potty? Lucy continued to pee and poo with wild abandon…in her panties, on the living room carpet, in her closet, and even in her bathroom floor. But, in the potty? Not so much.

My optimism lost, I started to fear that she'd NEVER be potty trained. I called my friends, this time saying that I thought she’d be tinkling her way down the aisle on her wedding day. I posted poo-filled horror stories on Facebook. I begged for advice. What was I doing wrong, I asked? WHY WOULDN’T LUCY JUST PEE ON THE (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE STRING OF OBSENITIES HERE) POTTY?

Still, I did not give up on my diaperless dream - even when she regressed to pissing all over the place following the baby's birth this May. Things slowly got better. She started to run to the bathroom without prompting and to use the potty by herself. And, after months of hard work, perseverance, and a whole lot of bribery, Lucy finally made it through a day without an accident, including nap time. Suddenly, more than a week had passed with nary a wet panty to be found. But, I could not yet declare that the training had come to an end. Yes, she was peeing on the toilet with accuracy and regularity…but ONLY peeing. The poop was another craptastic adventure entirely.

I knew that, eventually, Lucy would poo in the potty too. Everybody does, right? But, she simply refused. She’d pitch a fit that rivaled any I’d ever seen before (and believe me, I’ve seen some good ones) when I tried to make her sit on the potty to “drop the kids off at the pool.” I didn’t want her to associate pooping with trauma, which I was sure would cause her poo-related anxiety for her entire life, so I tried not to push the issue too much.
ME: Lucy, do you want to go poo-poo in the potty?

LUCY: No, that’s yucky.

ME: Why is poo-poo in the potty yucky?

LUCY: Because you have to wipe it!

ME: But you sit in it if you poo-poo in your panties or a diaper.

LUCY: Yeah, but that’s okay.

ME: No, that’s the yucky part! You don’t want Mommy to wipe your butt like a baby, do you?

LUCY: Yes, I actually do.

Weeks continued to pass as I tried every trick in the book. My Google history included searches like “how to train a 3 year old to poop in the potty” and “how to get a stubborn child to use the toilet.” I tracked bowel movements. I snuck prunes into her favorite chocolate pudding. I promised even greater rewards for doing the big deed.

ME: Want a whole chocolate bar and a trip to Monkey Bizness? Your favorite things!

LUCY: Yes!

ME: Of course you do! All you have to do is put your poo-poo in the potty, and they are YOURS!


In the face of her unbelievable willfulness, I did my best to be patient. I cleaned up dumps that resembled disgusting brown baseballs, saying encouragingly “That’s okay! You can try again next time!” while thinking “Are you kidding me? How could something so large and vile come out of such a small girl?” I'm talking man-sized poos here. Gag.

Yet I still couldn’t even get her into the bathroom when it was clear that number two was knocking at the back door. She’d hop down from the potty after peeing with her eyes wild, begging for a diaper. Or, even better, she’d squat wherever she was, her little face going beet-red with effort as she pushed.

LUCY: I’m DOING IT, Mommy!

ME: I see that. Can you please do it in the potty?


But, on Friday, July 12, everything changed. A corner was turned. After much cajoling, even more crying, and a promise of the contents of a candy store, LUCY POOPED ON THE POTTY. Then a couple of days later, she DID IT AGAIN. And, on her third birthday, she even did it TWICE!

For the first time in a long time, there was no  toddler-sized, poop-filled diaper to dispose of and no carpet to clean! A simple little wipe or two, and my job was done. It was everything I hoped for and more. It. Was. Magnificent. Magical, even. And, in the days since, this delightful trend thankfully has continued. Not once this week have I looked at the floor and wondered, “Chocolate or poop?”

I am not so na├»ve to think that my waste cleaning days are totally behind me. I’ll watch for Lucy to grab her butt and assume the crouching position, knowing that another poo-tastrophe could be in the making. I'll continue to tread carefully through the house, knowing that a puddle of pee could be waiting to be found by my bare foot. And, if by some major miracle, Lucy’s issues are finally resolved and our six-month-long journey to the potty is over… there’s always her little brother Will, coming up right behind.

1 comment:

  1. I have never laughed so hard in my life!! It has been quite an adventure and I have certainly been part of it. Lucy's ways are not always our ways, but she is finally getting the job done!