It really is.
I have a theory. I suspect the way a child approaches potty training may very well be the first significant glimpse into her personality. Cases in point: Our first three children.
Case Study One: The Over Achiever- watched impatiently, eager to grab the bull by its horns and do it herself. She trained very early. And her very green, very inexperienced parents decided no book guiding parents through such an ordeal was ever necessary. They also decided that clearly they were the cleverest parents in the world and could easily train the eleven children they planned on following.
Case Study Two: The Deliberator- shyly approached the snorting, red eyed bull and with bowed head, slowly but surely gained enough courage to make eye contact..but just for a second at first. Little by little, through quiet observation of The Over Achiever (who was very anxious to show off her mad urinating skills) she realized she could be friends with the bull, frolic with it in the pasture and feed it carrots and hay when the bullfight ended. That was motivation enough.
Case Study Three: The Matador on Steroids- set her steely glare right into the eyes of the hapless, frightened bull and proceeded to drop kick it then pummeled it into a bloody, senseless pulp with her rhinestone encrusted clutch. Seriously. This kid took her diaper off one morning, looked up at me and informed me she would no longer wear diapers. She has never looked back.
Interestingly, these experiences were clear glimpses into the way each child has approached life.
If history does indeed repeat itself again, we are in BIG trouble.
Case Study Four: The Bull- After a year and a half, of kicking and screaming, 2 5 lb. tubs of Jelly Bellies, a hearty stack of sparkly and/or scented stickers, 2 packages of Rapunzel underwear and countless trips to the library for ‘Once Upon A Potty’, He-Man and I finally realized it was a wash.
The Final Blow: ‘The Bull’ was happily swimming with her friends and sisters in the neighbor’s pool. At one point, she got out of the pool long enough to grab a Popsicle. That’s when I noticed ‘the walk’. She waddled, straight legged, bum cheeks squeezed together. We were in serious trouble…the kind of trouble that would clear the water of everything except innocuous floaters faster than Jaws.
Panicked, I grabbed the flailing, angry child and with melty Popsicle dripping in my hair, headed straight for her own personal potty. Thinking logic would be the best way to reason with a furious three year old, I assured her she could rejoin the crew in watery joy the moment she made her stinky deposit. No go.
An hour and a half later, after several attempts to bend a stubbornly straight child into a seated position, we finally had some…movement. And there was much rejoicing…and jelly beans…and a trip back to the pool.
It’s hard to say what the clincher was, the hour and a half reading and re-reading of ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do to see?’ or mommy using the top of her head as a battering ram to ‘The Bull’s’ belly to get her to sit down. Whatever it was, Little Miss swore off the potty.
Think I’m in the running for Mother of the Year? I’m pretty sure I broke just about every rule in every potty training book written for mothers in 25 different countries.
With our heads hung low, we resigned ourselves to accept the inevitable: The Bull had won. We would be changing her diapers for another 15 years.
And then, just in the past few weeks, it has become quite obvious that ‘The Bull’ did not lack the skills but had no intention of changing her wet, stinky ways.
True Story from the not-so-distant past:
Mom: “Sweetie, is it time to change your diaper?”
The Bull: “No, not yet…” (face contorts and turns red)
20 seconds go by…
The Bull: “Okay. You can change my diaper now.”
Saturday, as in, 5 days ago, I snapped. Facing the prospect of opening yet another batch of bulk diapers I had a glorious epiphany: I can be just as stubborn as ‘The Bull’. I was not changing another diaper.
What followed included practically pitching a waterproof pup tent in our bathroom armed with a stack of books including one that explicitly describes what goes in the potty and what does not (rubber duckies and toothbrushes DO NOT go into the potty).
She had her own fiercely loyal cheering section who, even when relegated to the other side of the door, passed notes, pictures and even a slice of sandwich bread under the door.
I’m happy to report it turned out kinda fun. We laughed and read, sang her favorite songs and talked about her favorite things. And then, when we least expected it, it happened…VICTORY! And not just any victory. It was the result we were both hoping for. She gasped and smiled, I smiled and laughed, cheered and hugged her. We did it! Now the trick was staying with it.
I then reverted back to grovelling, begging even, asking her what she wanted now that she knew how to do it. Her response: Bubblicious Bubble Gum. He-Man, ever the hero, rushed home with the goods as her older sisters prepared a banner for the parade in her honor. She stayed dry for the rest of the day.
The next morning, as He-Man and I high-fived each other upon discovering her diaper was dry all night, I exclaimed, “Wow! She’s got a bladder of steel!” To which she cried, “No! No! I don’t want a bladder of steel!”
I assured her that was quite alright. I’ll be happy with a bladder of aluminum as long as it means we’re done with diapers.
And now we’ve come to the end of our story, Folks. I’m pleased to report ‘The Bull’ is back to being our sweet, lovely and darling Ruby. She can now often be seen with a wad of bubble gum in her mouth, spitting as she talks because she hasn’t quite grown into it yet. (FYI, no need to call DCFS, I am cutting the pieces into fours so she doesn’t choke.) AND she has been dry ever since.
I’ll worry about paying for the therapy later.
In the Meantime, Happy Dreams and Smooth Moves to All and to All a Goodnight.