Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Potty Post

Warning: Don't read this post unless you enjoy stories about toddler bathroom trials and antics. Poop is gross - but it's also funny sometimes.

I guess I never did that potty-learning update that I promised back in... oh... January I see it was. I guess I was waiting until we were really REALLY done with accidents. They are pretty rare now, but I can now see more clearly that like everything else, this is going to take longer and be more effort than I had initially expected. Not that things are going badly. Not at all. Sweet Pea has maybe one accident a week right now. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I'd say we're 95% there. She likes her underwear, loves picking them herself and even putting the clean ones away in her drawer. She wore diapers again for 4 days in July while recovering from the flu, then seamlessly transitioned back to "undies" with almost no prompting from us.

Here's the dirt, though: learning to poop on the potty took a LONG time. Like, months. I wasn't sure what to do about it. The problem may have been that during that "three-day method" time, when she was supposed to be learning how to do all her business on the potty, she didn't poop once. She normally goes once a day, or every other day, so this wasn't too extreme. Through all the soiled underwear, we never went back to diapers, and it never really felt more difficult than diapers either since we could just change undies and plop the poo in the toilet (the poop part wasn't too hard, that is - changing wet sheets is a pain). I still used a wetbag-lined garbage can for her laundry basket so that aspect wasn't a worry either. But still, I started questioning myself and my choice of method. How successful was it really if one form of waste only went directly into the toilet every fourth, fifth, or eighth time?

She has eventually gotten it, but the change has been gradual, not sudden as I wished it would be. One week she would use the potty for number two two days out of seven, the next week it might be four or five days. There were regressions and leaps in progress due to changes in routine, or for no apparent reason at all. We despaired, we were joyful. Through it all, we stayed mostly positive, and I'm pretty sure she's not traumatized by the experience. Even still, seven months into potty-learning, we have to remind her to go (when she's dancing around or pulling at her clothes) about half the time, which I did not expect. And sometimes she resists, which I did not expect. I might have to cajole or talk her through the reasons it's important to go, several times per day, or reward her with gum or a chocolate chip, or delay something else she wants because she is just too darn busy. This play food needs to be cooked now! There are leaves that need to be picked up on the way to the restroom! Or, a new one today: "I want to braid the tree's hair!" (tree hair = pine needles).

After she said she had to go while we were out on a long bike-ride with no nearby bathrooms, I started encouraging her to pee or poo in the grass occasionally, and she really latched on to that idea. There was more progress with self-recognition of the need to go poo, and she seemed happier to go. This led to some interesting circumstances and things I hope my neighbors didn't see in the front yard. I have also had to revise my explanations several times to help her to realize it's better to go in a potty if there is one handy, and if there's not, by a tree might be better, or at least not in the middle of a high-traffic play area, even if yes, it is grass. Although, I'm sure plenty of dogs pee and or poop on the grass our children are playing on.

Our most recent potty adventure happened during our camping trip last weekend. I knew that she had to poo while we were playing in the shallows of the river. We had already "tried" once or twice that day with no success. Suddenly, she ran to the grass on the riverbank and said she had to go. I rushed to pull down her bathing suit and hold her hovered over the more sandy section that looked easier to clean up. She went and went and went. I tried to keep her standing still off to one side while my mom went to get clean-up materials. We chatted about rocks, then my mom returned. Sweet Pea looked down at her creation, and exclaimed, "I did a number five!" We laughed a little, thinking she was just making a statement about how much there was, then I noticed that the poop itself was in the shape of a number five. Apparently we have a poop artist! I thought that the number might have just been a coincidence until the other night when she pointed out her "number one" shaped poop in our home potty. Great - she recognizes numbers! Weird - she's applying them to her poops! But best of all, she is now aware of when she has to go, and going in a (mostly) appropriate place.

Umm, I don't think I have any internet appropriate pictures for this post. I already feel like I just might be crossing a line by writing publicly about my child's pooping, so I won't go any further and include images to match. You're welcome.

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