Jack went poopy on the potty. In the fight for overall bathroom normality, this is a huge step forward. We have, on some level, been waging this war for over a year. We have had various victories along the way. The time he “went poopy in the potty” because he had diarrhea and I was holding him over the toilet comes to mind. Now, perhaps my continued frustration comes from framing the entire EXPERIENCE in the terms of warfare. Perhaps. Hmmm. So, what has led to this 10 foot long multi-colored plastic arrangement of intricate levels and tracks and trains that takes up our entire living room, you might ask. Well, this is “Flying Thomas”. It’s a Thomas the Tank Engine playset called Thomas Sky High Bridge Jump.
Jack has been in love with Thomas the Tank Engine or Thomas and Friends for a while now. It started with the books, then we watched a few of the movies. He wanted some of the tracks, but they are expensive. We inherited a huge set from my sister and from that point on Jack had found his obsession. He was a trackmaster now. Building tracks, shunting trucks, bashing and the like. He, in his own words, “loves it”.
Now, about 6 months ago in a moment of absolute desperation I offered Jack pretty much anything he wanted to go poopy on the potty. He was sitting on the toilet and I was ready to offer up my credit cards and car keys. I could tell he was right on the cusp of actually “going” and that he was about to bail off the toilet and head right for where we keep the Pull Ups. At one point he said “If I go poopy I get the Flying Thomas?” and I said “Yes”. Truthfully, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. I thought that it was perhaps one of the motorized trains. It wasn’t until we took a trip to Toys R Us one day that I understood the scale of what we were talking about. Followers of my Instagram may remember the moment Jack took a particular box of the shelf and declared that we “had to get this”.
The thing that I recognize and relate to most in this whole affair is the fear that my son feels. That’s the bottom line of it all. He’s afraid. Afraid of going poopy. Fear used to play a use part in my life and it, essentially, fueled every aspect of it. I was motivated not for altruistic reasons or a sense of self-betterment, but by a consistent attempt to meet the expectations of others. It took my some time that all my fears can be boiled down to two things: either I’m afraid of not getting something I want or I’m afraid of losing something that I have. Jack is afraid of losing the comfort he has in his elongated relationship with diapers. He’s afraid of the unknown and what that might bring. It took a hell of a lot more than a set of toy train tracks for me to begin to over come the fears in my own life. So, hell, if buying Jack an expensive toy would help him over come some of his fear, than so be it. You can call that whatever you want. I think the proper term might be “bribery” and it’s probably not the greatest parenting plan, but I don’t really care. I’ve got a lot of good behavior in the bank that Jack has been able to watch. Some one once said “My father didn’t teach me how to be a dad. He was a dad and he let me watch.” I try to live that model for Jack. I try to be the example. I don’t always reach that mark, but I do a lot of the time.
I was able to get out of Toys R Us that day without making that purchase, however the deal was now sealed. I didn’t mind either. I now had a plan. I would put Jack on the toilet every night and we’d read a story. He would, eventually, get over his fear and he would go Number 2 in the toilet. He did and the moment he did he looked at me and didn’t say “Now I get Flying Thomas”. He smiled and he said “Yay! I went poopy on the potty!” He was excited and happy and he pointed out that he wasn’t scared and that he told me, in detail, how it felt and what he felt like now. He told me he was so happy. It was after all that he said “Now I get Flying Thomas” and I said “tomorrow I’m going to pick you up from school and we are going to go and get Flying Thomas.”
And so it was. I wish I could say it’s been all a smooth, poopyless road since then. He went twice in a row and we made the decision to have him totally in underpants at night. He’s had several accidents at night since then, but we are moving forward. The biggest change is that he now knows that it’s something he can do and that it’s something he wants to do. He plays with his Thomas Sky High Jump Playset and he loves it, but it’s not what motivates him anymore. He is doing that for himself.
Thanks for listening and be well.