The potty training saga continues

Zach has spent a lot of time the past two days on this - doing nothing.

Zach was not trained yesterday, either.  I would detail out our frustrating issues right now if I weren’t afraid that taking my focus off of Zach would result in more accidents.  (I’m really, really tired of cleaning up pee.)

I was in tears yesterday and this morning.  I was ready to throw in the towel.  There are so many things that seem to be going wrong.

But for the first time, Zach just peed in the potty on his own.  Not in the middle of wetting himself and our carpet or floor or faces.  It ALL went in the potty.  I have been given new hope!

Here we go …

Parenting lesson #14: The embarrassing moments are often teaching moments

Eliza pooped in a public pool on Friday.  Every now and again she is way too interested in what she’s doing to take the two-minute break to do her business.  Unfortunately for me, she is also exploring whether she has the freedom to lie.  Unfortunately for all of us (some of her friends and some poor strangers), her fibbing to get out of taking a potty break resulted in the entire pool being evacuated.

She went to the bathroom before we got in the pool and she said she did not need to poop.  Once in the pool, I asked her a few times if she needed to go when she seemed to be doing her turtle head dance.  Fast forward and, well, you know what happened.  So instead of further embarrassing her and me, I will share what I have learned in the hopes I can save you from the same fate:

1.  I will no longer refer to pooping as “dropping the kids off at the pool.”  A college suite mate used to say this and it stuck.  I’m pretty sure I’ve used the expression in front of Eliza.  Never will I confuse her again about where poop is supposed to go.

2.  If I see anything remotely like her poopy dance while she’s doing something fun, I will get her and take her to the bathroom.  This is going to be a pain in the rear end for me, especially because her poopy dance resembles a lot of other things she does, like plain old dancing.  But I will not ask her if she needs to go anymore, as I already know she will tell me “no” regardless of her inclination.

3.  I will make a point to have her use the bathroom before fun things.  Yes, I did this and the incident happened anyway, but it has prevented accidents on other occasions.

As we are preparing to potty train Zach, I’m sure this is just the beginning of what will be many fond poop memories (no ifs, ands or butts about it).

I know I said the potty training was done, but …

… it turns out that once kids are trained to use the toilet, sometimes they decide not to.

Eliza has suffered in the past week from wetting herself because she just doesn’t want to pull herself away from her very important activities, like playing in her sandbox or texting her friends.  And I get it, it’s an inconvenience.  But what I don’t get is how once she’s wet herself, she doesn’t seem to mind.  It’s pretty hard to convince someone who doesn’t mind warm, wet urine on her panties, leggings (side note: where can I find child jeggings?) and socks that she should go to the toilet to relieve herself.

So, I’m back to prompting her to use the toilet on several scheduled occasions throughout the day.  By prompting, I mean I say, “Eliza, we’re going to use the potty now.”  (If I ask her if she has to go, 118% of the time she will say, “No.”)  Then, I give her a choice, because choice is a key strategy I must use to get her to do what I want.  I let her decide whether she’d like to use the “big potty or the little potty.”  We still have training potties in our bathrooms so she can go on her own, but I obviously prefer the “big potty.”  So if she chooses the little potty, I try to convince her to use the big one anyway by telling her big girls like Dora use the big potty.  But if she puts up a fight, this is not the round to try to knock her out.  So, I do this process when she wakes up in the morning, mid-morning, before her nap, after her nap, before dinner, and before bed.

When she starts going on her own consistently again, I will wean her from the drills.  But for now, as long as she’s decided to decide not to use the potty on her own accord, I am going to decide for her that I’m not going to wash any more wet or soiled clothes.

The final installment: Fully potty trained and loving it

There were times it seemed it might never happen, but I can say with confidence that Eliza is 99.9% potty trained.

She is successfully getting all her waste in the appropriate places, whether we’re home or away.  She uses training potties, public toilets or other people’s bathrooms.  I still have her on Miralax and will continue to give her the “magic” dose for her – 3/4 teaspoon – until I run out of it.

I think because we stuck with it she has done well.  It was really hard to deal with a month of poopy pants and there were many occasions when I wanted to throw in the towel.  I think she made the decision easy because it wasn’t that she wanted to poop in her diaper, but rather that she didn’t want to poop at all once she figured out she could control it.  However, the Miralax did its job eventually.  I am still weaning her off of expecting chocolate and a Dora sticker every time she has a BM, but I think that is in the near future.

I carry around a foldable Disney princess potty seat and she seems to like using it.  (I wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe after each use.)  She uses a padded Elmo seat on the regular toilets at home.  And sometimes she likes to use her training potties, especially when she just has to pee because she can do the entire process all by herself.

Every once in a while (such as in the car on the way to the beach when she woke from a bad dream) she has an accident.  But they are few and far between.  I spoke to a mom at a birthday party yesterday who said it took a year to potty train her daughter.  So I’m really glad that it didn’t come to that.  That really would feel like forever.

The Miralax is sort of working: another potty training update

We started Eliza on Miralax twelve days ago to fix her “backup” issue that kept her from wanting to poop on the potty.  She did much better for the first two days, but the half a capful (which is about a half tablespoon) was too much and caused her to have the opposite problem.  It has been difficult to find the right dosage, but it seems that half a teaspoon is the right amount.  She still, however, does a poopy dance, is reluctant to get on the toilet, and has little accidents, even though once she goes in the potty she is uber excited.  We are just going to keep working at it and keep giving her chocolate every time she gets it right.  The pediatrician says we should use the Miralax for a good month after she starts doing all her business consistently in the right place.  I guess that makes sense, because we don’t want to mess up the progress we’ve made.  It’s been interesting to say the least, but we are taking baby steps in the right direction.  Our “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” has become “Pee Pee Training in Three Days and Never Ending Poop Training.”  The book is definitely deficient in explaining what to do about #2.

Potty training “backup”

Potty training after the first week seemed to be going along swimmingly.  However, this past week was, shall I say, so challenging that every day Eliza brought me to my wit’s end after exhausting me mentally and physically.

She still loves to go pee in the potty and every time she gets super excited, squealing in joy, pointing at the pot and saying, “Mommy WOOK, Yaya pee peed in da poppy!  YAY!  (Clap clap clap).”  The problem arises when she has to poop.

You might recall she was hesitant to poop on the potty in the first place.  She held it in for hours the first few times.  The problem is this created a vicious cycle of being afraid it will hurt to poop, holding it in, and pushing it out after impacting it.  This – of course – hurts, and so her fears about pooping have been confirmed.  Thus, each time she feels the urge, she believes (and knows) it will be a painful experience.  She doesn’t want to poop at all now.  Not in a diaper and not in the potty.  Picture a two-year-old who cannot stop her tantrums for hours on end, as every few minutes she says in a whiny, scared voice, “Mommy, pee!  PEE!” while holding her tush and squeezing her legs together.  It culminates in crying combined with an expression of terror as it starts to come out against her wishes and will.  In a way, I feel bad for her, but in another way, I wish so badly I could reason with her.  (And those of you who are reading this and have older children who are not yet trained are probably feeling pretty justified right about now.  Go ahead, it’s okay.)  Nothing we say helps.  We try to relax her.  We try to assure her.  We tell her how happy all her favorite people will be if she will go.  We bribe her with chocolate.  None of it is working.

I called the pediatrician and have started her on Miralax this morning, which will make it much softer and get rid of the pain, and in so doing (we hope) erase the fear of the act.  I will keep you updated.

In the meantime, I will count my lucky stars that she does still enjoy using the potty and has only had one pee accident in 12 days.  I’m going to try to focus on that when I am at my wit’s end again (which should be within the next few hours as she has been doing the poopy dance all morning already).

With kids, you fix a drip and bust a leak

I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me last weekend that the potty training was really going to work.  It seemed like all we had done was torturous, tear eliciting exercises.  Eliza didn’t want to sit on the potty.  She seemed to be clueless about when her bladder was empty.  The book didn’t address how to deal with the road bumps we hit.  And yet, I sit here writing to say that our big girl has not wet her pants, not even with a drop, since Tuesday.  Despite an awful virus causing a 104 degree fever, vomiting, coughing and a nasal drip on Wednesday, I managed to resist the very strong temptation to put her back in diapers.  And the girl, after not peeing all day, peed into a cup on the potty at the pediatrician’s office for me.  I wanted to cry I was so proud.  And though she’s still adapting to going #2 on the toilet, she’s accident-free in that area as well.  (Hey, it might take 45 minutes to get it out, but at least it’s ending up in the pot and not on the floor.)  I guess the one part of the process she does seem to still have difficulty with is putting her pants back on after going (as she seems to enjoy being half naked).

The thing I’m learning about parenting is that no training ever seems “finished.”  It’s exhausting for someone who loves the feeling of completing projects!  You just seem to go from one challenging phase to the next. With Zach, I’m so glad he’s nursing so much less frequently now.  But the introduction of solids presents a new set of feeding responsibilities and another checklist of items I have to remember to bring when I want to get out the door.  With Eliza, now that she knows how to pee on the potty, I don’t have to pack diapers in my bag for her, but I have to remember spare panties and pants.  And speaking of pants, I have to invest in ones that are completely elastic around the waist without buttons, snaps or zippers so she can easily pull them up and down until she gets really good at dressing herself.  I have to make sure I have contraptions on-hand such as toilet seat covers and a “car potty” so when nature calls, I can be prepared.  And praise God that I don’t have to clean up poop diapers anymore, but I still have to wipe her butt.

This leads me to my final poop thought, and then I promise to switch gears away from potty talk the next time I write.  The book we read for training (which I will now say I recommend) says that unless your child is confined to bed with diarrhea, you should not put diapers back on him.  So for all the mothers out there who have been through it – am I in for my own torturous, tear-eliciting exercise when she gets the runs?  (I just want to prepare myself mentally.)

For those who are waiting with bated breath (the potty training update)

Today things went even better.  Eliza only had one real accident, and otherwise pottied herself with much less whining and crying than yesterday.  She is getting better at the parts of the process that are more difficult for her, such as physically walking to the potty in the first place and pulling her pants up and down.  She is very proud of her new skills!

The big news, however, is that she got her #2 into the potty for the first time!  She wasn’t happy about it, but after several tries of squatting and whining, she managed to relax and make it happen.  And then she couldn’t stop pointing at it in there and squealing, “Mommy WOOK!  YAZA POOP IN DA POPPY!!!”  (Translation: “Mommy, look!  Eliza pooped in the potty.”)

I must share my two secrets with all of you:

1) She did it when we were outside and she was in her bathing suit.  She could not bring herself to go in the suit, unlike in her training pants where it just fell right through them and down onto the ground.

2) It happened after several tries when I finally got her distracted and relaxed enough by combining blowing bubbles with telling her how proud all of her favorite people would be with her if she pooped in the potty.

As soon as I can get away to do it, I’m taking her for a special trip to the store to pick out some Dora underwear.  I think adding them to the equation will give her a sense of pride and help keep the doo doo where it belongs.

This was day three of “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day.”

Yes, you read that correctly.  Did you catch the irony?  Greg spent all of Saturday and half of Sunday following the guidance of a book with the above title.  It’s the book my mom used to potty train my brothers and me and she says it worked.  It makes it seem like all you have to do is put in 3-4 hours of focused training between breakfast and nap time and, voila, your child potties herself.  However, either we’re missing something, doing something wrong, or Eliza is a poor student.  Or some combination of the above.  Regardless, we have so far failed.

The good news is that she peed twice in her potty today and only wet her pants slightly twice.  Yesterday, she went in the potty probably eight times, but also wet her pants eight times.  You can see the progress.  She is learning bladder control and when it is full and when it absolutely needs to be emptied.  The bad news is she seems terrified of pooping in the potty and thus has chosen to do that act “elsewhere.”  As soon as she gets better at pulling her pants up and down, we’ll add underwear into the equation.  My hope is it won’t be as comfortable to do that into underpants.  Especially if they have, say, Dora on them, who definitely doesn’t like to be pooped on.  (Thanks for that idea, Molly!)

But this is a classic example of my unrealistic expectations.  I am the queen (remember I’m Type A) of setting a goal, putting together a game plan for getting there, following it, and getting the expected results.  (This is probably why I enjoy cooking and baking.)  Children in general don’t work this way.  I expected Eliza to be a super student who followed the book example.  I expected her to be instantly great at all parts of the process – realizing she needs to go, walking herself to the potty, pulling down her pants, pottying, wiping, pulling up her pants (so they cover ALL of her butt, not just some of it), taking her pot to the toilet, dumping out the pee and tissue, flushing, and replacing the pot.

Instead I have a little girl who has mastered about half of the steps.  But I am learning that is okay.  In fact, it’s more than okay.  She’ll get there.  I have to focus on how much she’s learned so quickly.  A random woman said to me the other day that our daughters won’t walk down the aisle without being potty trained.  One of the reasons people postpone and avoid potty training is because it’s a pain in the butt.  It’s one of those parenting moments (whether swift or slow) that everyone talks about and remembers for years to come.  What I want to remember about it is that amid all the training, she and Greg started playing a new game where she runs away from him giggling and then runs back at full speed and pounds into him in the most massive bear hug she can muster.  She blessed me with a round of it today.  And I savored every moment, even though in the back of my mind I was thinking about whether doing that would make her pee herself.  (Hey, eventually I will learn to let go.)

And the book?  Well, I would neither enthusiastically recommend nor fervently steer you clear of it.  If you’re interested, the authors are Nathan H. Azrin, Ph.D. and Richard M. Foxx, Ph.D.

Nor can I go #2.

Toddlers know exactly when you are unavailable. It’s like they have innate radar that alerts them to do something naughty when you’re at your most vulnerable. How are they so smart?

This morning while pumping (clearly a case when I’m not able to jump at the drop of a hat), Eliza managed to find the small shells I had hidden from her in the bathroom drawer and do – I can only imagine what – with. I have found two of the five, and the other three? I honestly would not be surprised to find them come out the other end in her diaper tomorrow.

Which leads me to poop. Here’s another example of her craftiness, fresh from this morning. I sat Eliza down at the dining room table with her oatmeal, set Zach on his play mat in such a way that if he rolled 3 times in any direction he’d be relatively safe, and took the moment to head to the bathroom. Of course, tonight I’m supposed to make a French side dish for a fun girls dinner party, so I grabbed my “Art of French Cooking” masterpiece and sat for what I hoped would be 4 or 5 uninterrupted minutes to flip through the vegetable chapter. Not so. One of Eliza’s current annoying habits is calling my name over and over and over until I respond. I chose to ignore it (again, if she doesn’t get what she wants, which is a response, perhaps she’ll stop), but after about 25-30 “MAAAAAAA-MEEEEEEs” I finally got up and went to look. She had punished me. Her oatmeal was everywhere – on her clothes, the rug under her, her cloth-padded chair – and she was standing up in a pretty precariously dangerous position. She then proceeded to require me to feed her, probably because I started Zach on solid foods yesterday and she wants the attention.

The point is that I have to start giving her more credit than I do, and I must begin anticipating her antics. Both of these situations, at least to some extent, were avoidable. I have a child lock on the bathroom doorknob, but I had failed to close the door before sitting down to pump. Likewise, Eliza has this week decided to refuse sitting in her high chair anymore. It’s a timely choice because I now need it for Zach, but the only alternative we currently have is for her to sit in the Bumbo on a dining room chair. It’s not safe, for one, and she can’t be strapped. She’s also not tall enough to reach her food easily, which is part of why she threw the oatmeal everywhere. (Thank goodness we have the dog. In fact, I’m sure I will complain inexorably about Abbey, our mutt, so this is a good time to remember why I keep her around.) So I could have asked Greg, my husband, to sit with her and help her eat while I went to the bathroom, or I could have brought her to the bathroom with me before sitting her down to eat. Or I could somehow make the time to get to the store for a proper booster seat.

Part of being the parent of a toddler is accepting a lack of control. Things are going to get messy and that’s part of the fun. But another part is realizing she is learning how the world works, and because I already know the answers to that, I can prevent a lot of frustration. The best offense is a good defense, right? Eliza might have stealth radar, but I have the atom bomb.