There is a lot of talk about people not liking change. I find that to be completely untrue. I happen to like change that I like very much. It’s the change that I do not like that I seem to have a problem with. This seems to be a stubborn attitude concerning acceptance and control that I’ve passed on to my son. Especially, as according to my mother, when it relates to our burgeoning bathroom habits. God, I hope that wasn’t too blunt.
We’ve been in the throes of some level of potty training for QUITE some time. Any notion that this would be a three week process went out the window at the dual realization that Jack was not showing much interest in putting waste in the special areas of the house for it AND that both Allison and myself were just too damn lazy to give our son some kind of pee pee complex later in life by repeatedly insisting he just go. So, we spent months in this urine soaked purgatory of wet undies, pull up appropriate scenarios, and lots and lots of “No!” Basically, it went pretty much exactly as it should have gone and, knowing Jack and his resistance to change, it went as I should have expected it. In the endless learning curve that more experience parents seem to call “your first child”, we seemingly made every mistake possible.
This all started many months ago, as I did something that I usually do: I made a decision for the entire family and confused lack of opposition with agreement. I bought Jack a bunch of undies after a conversation with his teacher about potty training. Jack had missed “The Window” (which you can read about in THIS blog post), but was getting over his outright fear. A rudimentary schedule of times we were going to “go potty” was established and quickly backed off as we realized we were doing more harm than good in the insistence that he go. This was replaced with a more laid back “sometimes in a diaper, sometimes in undies” scenario in which Jack’s school was more than willing to work with us. So, he was essentially only in a diaper when we’d go out and about (restaurants, park, zoo, etc) and in undies the rest of the time. This worked for a bit, and we found a flow. Jack was getting more and more uncomfortable each time he’d have an accident and was starting to understand that he did not want to wet his pants. However, his parents were slow to adapt to this. It became easy to forget that Jack needed to go from a diaper to undies when he got home. It felt as if we were standing still, if not completely backpedaling on the commitment we’d made. I love my son so much and one of the things I love about him is how content and easy going he can be. Things just aren’t that big a deal to him. If mom and dad wanted him to stay in a diaper for an extra hour after the park, who was he to argue. It was the beginning of what could have become a very confusing set of circumstances.
One morning, while I was under the influence of both a chest cold and a freshly strained back, I did something that I would regret doing IF regrets were a currency I still deal in. I moved a step backward and sent Jack to school in a diaper. Up until this point, school was a realm of undies and changes of clothes if there was an accident. However, I fell victim of intense parental laziness, though thankfully I’m one that is pretty good at forgiving oneself and learning from the consequences. And there were consequences: I got yelled at by Jack’s teacher. Well, not really. I picked Jack up and she pointed out something I was already aware. She told us that they are actively working with Jack and school and that it is disheartening to see him show up in a diaper. That he was really starting to understand and learn and that we were in danger of confusing him. I took this to heart and constructed a more benign, while at the same time somehow aggressive, reward system. Like my fore-fathers before me and going back to the dawn of time and how the cavemen potty trained their sons, I created a POTTY BOARD.
I know, I know. All this serious talk about potty training? All this from the “take it gentle”/”it doesn’t matter”/”it will all go according to plan” guy? Well, here I am once again at the perfect cross-section for the universe to make things easy for me. I had reached a point of being fed up with the “oh, he’ll just get it” state of things to take a little action, right at the time when Jack was approaching the momentous beginnings of “oh, he’ll just get it”. What did I really have to do? Take a few simple steps in the right direction after being open to the experience of some one that wasn’t me. The real problem was the whole time I was really only listening to myself. I had ignored the objections of Allison and had ignored the lack of initiative on Jack’s behalf. I felt that I could educate him or trick him into loving going potty. What I was doing the entire time was a huge disservice to all involved, including myself. Now, like I said, I have no regrets. I tend to believe that every person needs to go through whatever amount of personal pain they need to before they institute change in their life. Sometimes it is more drastic than others.
Since we started the POTTY BOARD it has been nothing but continual forward momentum. We’ve even changed the rules a bit and Jack is learning as he always does. A whole hell of a lot faster and more assuredly than I do. Thank God for that other half of his genetic make up.
Now, poo poo in the potty? Well, that’s a tale for another time…