While the Man was still gone off to military training this summer, I embarked on the harrowing journey of potty training our 3 year old. I had maybe just a tiny little TON of resentment that he was going to get out of one of the hardest, most stressful parts of parenting a toddler. I avoided it as long as I could, but when I decided to put him in daycare a couple times a week, I knew it was going to have to happen sooner rather than later.
This is a child who I initially started doing Elimination Communication with at 6 weeks. And we were total EC rock stars from 6 weeks until about 6 months. That summer the Man went away to hunt down his dream job and I started to spiral into post-partum anxiety. EC fell far off the radar and when the Man got back at the end of the summer I was in rough shape and we never quite got back on the potty horse.
Fast forward 3 years and I couldn’t even get him to sit down on the potty, nevermind relax whatever muscles need relaxing to actually let his pee out. It didn’t matter how many shiny stickers I bought or what I tried to bribe him with, he was perfectly content shitting and pissing in his diapers. I had moments when I got really upset about it and was sure I’d be buying him diapers well into his teen years. But then I pulled back, let it go, and tried again with more patience when I wasn’t quite so emotionally invested (and when there were two adults to bear the burden of rug cleaning and toddler wrestling).
By the time the Man came home in late August, he would sit and go pee, but always with prompting and often with a WWF cage match just to get him on the actual seat. There were dinosaur underwear purchased and there were various bribes involving chocolate. And there were many, many accidents moments after I tried to get him to sit (and he refused). We talked a lot about our own potty habits and tried to make it seem like the most cool and groovy thing ever. Don’t judge, we were desperate.
About a month ago when sitting on the potty was met with only minor protests, I bought a new pack of Thomas the Train underwear to grease the wheels and I stopped putting him in pull-ups. Eventually, it worked. He was in underwear all day and all night. Exceeeeept for #2 – he couldn’t quite make the mental leap to let his poop escape into the potty.
We convinced him, by some small miracle, to ask us for a pull-up when he had to poop. Things started to shift from having to watch him like a hawk for The Signs to him declaring he had to poop and asking for a pull-up (and 10 minutes in the bathroom with the door locked like a teenager to do his business while he played with all the random crap that gets left on the top of the washing machine. BUT WHO CARES, body awareness folks).
I made him a special deal. I promised him not only the chocolate cookie bar I’d been promising him all summer, but I upped the ante – Cranky the Crane. Cranky the Crane = 5 packs of pull ups, for those of you interested in maths. I even made an Extra Special Sticker Chart with a big picture of Cranky and one lone box for him to put his Extra Special Sticker on when he finally poops. Every time he asked for a pull-up, I referenced the chart. But he still insisted on pull-ups because who loves shitting in their pants more than new toys? My kid. Apparently.
Then yesterday soemthing happened – we ran out of pull-ups. I decided I wasn’t going to drop another $10 so he could shit for 3 more weeks in a pull up once a day. Nope. Not doing it. So when he asked, I said sorry, but he could sit and try to put his poop in the potty. He sat, and I even complied with his request for privacy and a locked door because, desperate. But it was a no go – he held onto it for dear life.
The Man and I shared knowing glances several times today, the question of whether or not we would soon be cleaning up the shit-splosion of a lifetime, or doing a jig, passing silently between us. Early this afternoon, Mack declared he needed to go and I guided him to the bathroom. I closed and locked the door, at his request, and waited. And waited some more. And reminded him of his would-be friend Cranky.
After 10 minutes I made a ruse about having to go in to throw something in the compost bin and found he had finally, FINALLY, pooped on the potty! We clapped, he got shy, and I kicked out everyone who came in the bathroom to celebrate with us. We put his Extra Special Sticker on his Extra Special Sticker Chart and made a plan to go get Cranky later in the afternoon.
This evening I reminded him that, now that he knows how to poop on the potty, when he has to poop he can poop on the potty AGAIN! And he said “yeah, I can poop on the potty again and then I’ll have TWO Cranky the Cranes”.