Monday, March 12, 2012
Through the fog of early morning, I spied two large, round eyes and a sweet voice said, “Mama, I’m poopy.” If you’ve been following my parenting escapades long, you know that I do not call myself an expert in potty training. Where’s the magic button that I can push that reboots my three-year-olds to automatically transition from diapers to underwear? I know these buttons exist because it appears that many other mothers have located these devise on their children. (Not all of us, mind you, I do know that I am not alone.) It seems like the world of mothering can be categorized into two groups: those that beam with potty training ease and those that do not.
Normally I enjoy a morning cuddle, but not when my youngest announces that he is poopy. I lifted my comatose body from its warm covers and was immediately filled with horror−and immediately wide awake. A’s pants were poopy, yes, but also his feet! His feet! The trek to my bedroom from his is a long one that includes steep terrain and white carpet. (White carpet, another worthy column.)
I quickly rushed this dangling mess to the bathtub while he cheerily chatted about his morning adventures in poop. The horror grew. What did the house look like? I decided to assess the damage: little brown footprints recounted his journey all the way up the stairs and into the boys’ bathroom. Nightmare. The entire floor of A’s bathroom was covered from toilet to doorway with a fudge-like substance that, unfortunately, did not smell or act like fudge. It was a mirage that I could not deny.
How would I get the older boys to school? This was not a quick clean up, but would require hazmat vigilance. I called my father and begged him to take the older boys for me. I didn’t have to ask twice once I explained the situation. We all went into emergency mode.
After an entire tub of Lysol wipes, several stop-and-gags, and 40 minutes of hand-and-knee-deep-cleaning the bathroom was disinfected. Time for an intervention. After a short, but firm discussion in regards to the nasty nature of poo and that mommy is A’s helper, I felt satisfied that this experience was one we could all learn from.
The next three days were a beautiful thing. A asked for help all day long when it came to the use of the potty. I felt we had turned a key potty-training-corner. He kept telling me, “Poop is messy.” Yes, yes it is. I was starting to think that life’s hard lessons could be learned from, and that if we captured this at a young age our teenage years would be smooth sailing. (Fantasy: perhaps when I become the mother of three teenage boys I can align myself with the mothers whose children do well in school and seem to cause no parenting woes. I’d rather have that than easy potty trainers, right?)
I only shared my success with a few mothers; I am actually getting a bit wiser in my parenting− just a bit. The positive effects of the Floor Fudge Extravaganza only took us from Wednesday to Saturday. Then it was back to business as usual, not floor art, but plenty of messy pants−plenty.
I try and talk myself out of my panic attacks. I know it’ll all come together. I know he won’t still be doing this in a year. I know it has to end. He is my last boy, my last baby, but don’t tell him that. The other night I put him in a pull-up and he looked at me with disgust, “I don’t like those. They make me feel little.” No joke, these were his words and feelings. “Well, maybe if you didn’t have accidents, then mommy would let you wear big-boy-pants all the time.” My passive-aggressive son seemed to comply and let mommy dress him in these safety precautions. But this morning when he came running down the stair, jumping into my happy arms, I could feel that he had put underwear on beneath his pajamas and no longer resided in a pull-up. “Did you put on underwear?” (Knowing my youngest, he did this last night after I was sure he was warm and cozy in his bed.)
“Yes, I am a big boy.” He beamed and was quite pleased. I think I might as well surrender now, the teenage years just might prove to be even trickier for this parent than the toddler years have been.