I am tired of cleaning up poop every morning from the diaper of a kid that’s nearly four. I just am.
Oh, yeah. In case you didn’t figure it out from the title, we are going to be talking about shit. Literally. Crap. Poop. Feces. Doodie. Dumps. Whatever your preferred euphemism may be: we are up that creek without a paddle.
I have two sons: Jack and Charlie. Charlie is doing pretty much exactly what he is supposed to be doing right now as far as pooping goes. He is two months old. He is regularly going right in his diaper, sometimes on his changing table and sometimes so voluminous that it then leaks out of his diaper and onto his mother or me. This then necessitates the following decision: do I take the time to change or do I merely dab it up with a Baby Wipe and go about my day? You might be surprised how often, at some level, you’ll find me walking around in public with crap on my person. The victory is that, these days, it’s not my own.
Then we’ve got Jack. With Jack’s Potty Training we could probably write a book about what not to do. When he was around 2 we first started actively potty training. Initially we were pushing too hard. He was showing very little interest in going and we had adapted a “every 15 minutes” policy of trying. He just didn’t want to. I know that there are more strict approaches and perhaps strict is not the right word. More structured. We’ve even indulged in those more structured mentalities when it came to Jack’s sleeping (as can be read about HERE). For whatever reason we decided not to take those same approaches with Potty Training. The concept that “they can be taught at 18 months, NO MATTER WHAT” just didn’t meld with the simple perception that I was stigmatizing my son. We left it alone for a while and eventually introduced what turned into our saving grace: THE POTTY BOARD!
Jack got on board quick and now he goes Number 1 in the Potty completely independently. Sometimes he’s a little too good at it. He’ll come sauntering back to the playground and look up and go “Daddy, I just went pee pee.” Which, yes, does mean that he walked to the bathroom by himself and used the facilities. However, depending on the environment (beach, woods, etc.) it may mean that he just dropped trow and went. Hey, when ya gotta go ya gotta go.
The elusive Number 2 though and the reason the word “poopy” is in the title of this post. As it stands right now, Jack still sleeps in a diaper. He wakes up 99% of the time with a dirty diaper. I have tried a reward chart for just going Poopy and he doesn’t seem to care. I have tried bribery and he claims he does not want the items that he so cherishes under any other circumstances. Very recently we were making him sit on the potty before going to bed. He would sit and sit and sit and not go. I can tell he’s holding it in, only to release it the moment a diaper is on and the door is closed and he’s laying in bed. He does this repeatedly and claims to want to be able to tell his mommy “I went poopy in the potty.” He says he’d love to wake up with out dirty pants. I know he doesn’t like it, but I (like him) just don’t seem to get it. I am tired of cleaning up his poop, but I will continue to do so. In the immediate, as I am typing this, we are not addressing it at all. I don’t like that. I’m disturbed by it, but I know it will change. Jack turns 4 at the end of the month, and I have (for some reason) been holding that as a marker of time for this. When he turns 4 it will all fall into place, is the lie that I’m telling myself right now. Sounds dramatic? Well, yeah, I can be that. This entire situation is only as dramatic as I want it to be.
Now, if I’m being honest, a lot of the anguish over this is stuff that I am bringing to the table. I started this post with the notion that my 2 month old is where he “should” be as far as his bathroom habits go. I have a “where he should be” with Jack as well, and it extends far beyond his simple bathroom practices. The lingering lack of satisfaction I have with where Jack is in certain areas of childhood development is not only unhealthy, but it’s also entirely my own insecurity. Jack is one of the smartest children I’ve ever seen. I’m not saying that because he is my son, I’m saying that because that is my experience. He sits down and does 100 piece puzzles with ease and independently. He sounds out words and reads. His imagination far exceeds my own and his sense of humor makes me laugh out loud several times a day. Yet, here I am with these notions of what he SHOULD be capable of and is not. Now, honestly, Jack has had some key milestones that have come later than the “norm” (whatever that is). He walked later. Talked later. His communication is not where his classmates is. He has some trouble with fine motor skills. He does not go poopy on the potty.
So what? My friends tell me “He’s not going to be 17 years old and pooping in his diaper”, and I have trouble accepting that as the marker of good parenting. Mainly because I don’t believe I know what that marker entails. Is it “good parenting” to make my son go to the bathroom in the potty or to just let him take the lead and do it when he’s ready to? Do I just throw all the diapers away and pop him in undies at night and accept that I’m changing sheets and undies instead of tossing diapers? Is THAT “good parenting”? Does it even matter? Is “good parenting” really a thing or is it simply the absence of “bad parenting”?
I don’t know. I have no answers. I know there is a lesson in all of this. For all of us. For me, for Jack, for Allison, even for Charlie. I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing and knowing what I know.
The doing: taking the actions, with the support of my wife, that have worked so far and recognizing when we need to course correct. Not doing so alone. Asking for advice and listening, even if I’m not taking, that advice. Being there for my son, in any way he needs me to be. Knowing when he can do something alone. Finding the balance between all of that. If I ever successfully do this all, I’ll let you know how.
The knowing: That Jack is amazing and that, despite what I think he SHOULD be doing, he is exactly where he is supposed to be and where he is supposed to be. Attempt to control anything beyond that is above my pay grade. Which is, already, a lot more than I deserve.
Thanks for listening. Be well.