That’s how long we’ve been potty training our almost-4-year-old.
And we are still at it.
It’s harder for boys to catch on, right? That’s what They say, anyway. And so I repeat this to myself. Often. It helps keep the crazy away.
We started when he was 2, and after a few days to weeks, he got the pee training down. The poop? Not even a little bit. But that’s okay, we told ourselves; he’ll get it. We were pregnant with our second son, and Ethan’s pediatrician (as well as many other advice-givers) told me to prepare myself for any progress we’d made, by the time of baby #2′s arrival, to go right (and at this point she chuckled) “down the drain. Pun completely intended.”
And indeed, down the drain it went. But he got back on track (that is, returned to peeing in the potty 95% of the time) after a few weeks. But poop? Still not even a little bit. I’ve tried rewards. We use a chart. (A FUN chart with STICKERS.) We have a “poop bell,” only to be rung on those #2 occasions. We sing and dance and clap and praise him whenever he DOES go. He knows that he has missed out on some pretty cool Big Boy Stuff due to the fact that he’s not potty trained. But it remains: He will not go poop in the potty unless I sit him down on it and leave him there for what feels, to both of us, like forever. He refuses to tell me when he needs to go, and has said goodbye to many a pair of ruined Spidey undies because of this.
And another thing that They say? To keep on keeping on, because all of a sudden, one day, almost overnight it will seem… he’ll get it. But this has been going on for NEARLY 730 NIGHTS! When, oh when, will that special night come?
And then there’s my other kid, who at 17-months has already had one successful potty experience, and looooves to inform me when he’s pooping. Even pulls words like “sit” and “potty” and “push” and “poop” out of his vocabulary for such occasions. Every kid is different, FO SHO.
There have been many, many, way too many negative potty experiences in this house. I try to always be kind and calm and soothing, but I’m not perfect. Trying to extract a pair of pooped-in underpants from someone’s tiny legs without also spraying shrapnel all over the bathroom doesn’t exactly bring out the Parenting Best in me. Which is to say nothing of doing it for the 400th time. Or doing it in a public restroom. Or doing it for the 6th time in one day. GAH.
But… someday, right? Someday we’ll look back at this time, and… well, no, I won’t laugh. But I WILL sigh a big sigh of relief and maybe have another drink. Until that day, I will remember the time, a few months ago, when Ethan and I were walking through the mall; he, merrily skipping along, I, dragging and tired and just wanting to get a few things at Target and get home. All of a sudden my merry skipper wasn’t at my side anymore. I turned and looked; he’d just slowed down a bit. That’s all. Still skipping, just not quite so merrily. As I turned my head to face forward again, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Something dark, could have been a small rock. My first thought was, Oh no, don’t trip! I thought it was a rock, and envisioned him skipping on it, losing his balance and falling. But… hm. No… not a rock. I stopped walking, and turned to him.
“What’s that?” I questioned.
“That… right there. Was that on the ground, or…”
“What are you talking about, Mommy?”
<light bulb> “Ohhhhh, no… Ethan, what is that? Is it… Is that… Ethan, did you poop?”
“No! I didn’t poop!” <kneels down to inspect “rock”> Um, I think it’s some chocolate.”
<heaves big sigh> “Ethan, did you go poop? Just tell me, okay? We’ll go find a bathroom, and get you cleaned up, and…”
“NO I DID NOT POOP.”
“Okaaay. Well, do you see this poop right here? Do you know how it got here? IT FELL OUT OF YOUR UNDERPANTS AND YOU SKIPPED IT OUT YOUR PANTLEG AND ONTO THE GROUND.”
<Thinking I should give him one last chance to come clean> “Ethan, if I check in your underpants, will I see poop?”
“No, Mommy. You won’t. I didn’t poop.”
“So then how did this poop get in here, then?”
“Uh… I don’t know… maybe a cat put it in there?”
Yes, someday, when he is older and these frustrating times are vague memories, all I’ll remember is the invisible, mischievous poo-gifting cat.
This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by the Pull-Ups brand, who’ve just launched The Potty Project, which you better BELIEVE I am all over! Real-life families who are in the throes of potty training. Good stuff.