Poop in the Potty
After Angelica pooped on the laundry room floor I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that she would be the first one to do a poop in the potty. Although I later realized it wasn’t intended. After we all crowded into the bathroom, including Humphrey, we started celebrating by giving high-fives, dancing around and praising Angelica for going poop in the potty! We did everything to celebrate her accomplishment short of putting up a banner proclaiming, “Angelica is the #1 Pooper!” and wearing party hats and blowing horns, or having a marching band come through the bathroom. At least we didn’t go so far as having a t-shirt made for her that said, “I went poop in the potty and all I got was this t-shirt.” I have to admit that one of my first thoughts was, This potty training thing isn’t so bad after all. I quickly learned to never underestimate the power, determination, and stubbornness of a three year old and not to become too confident with my own parenting skills, at least when it came to potty training. For months we didn’t see another poop in the potty from Angelica. We resolved that it was a complete fluke on her part and that all of the pomp and circumstance literally scared her shitless (diapers and pull-ups excluded).
You Happy and Proud!
As soon as some of the poops landed in the potty then we started to hear things like, “I went a big poop!” or “You happy and proud of my poop?” We toned down our level of excitement because it was obvious that our kids didn’t come from environments where their little accomplishments were acknowledged and celebrated, and therefore they had no prior experience on how to accept over-the-top praise. So we stuck to high-fives (Purell afterwards) and praising and acknowledging what they had just accomplished, and made sure they were “happy and proud” of what they had just done as well. Unfortunately, a poop in the potty one day doesn’t translate to a poop in the potty the next day, or even the day after that. In sharing pooping stories with some other parents, and reading potty training stories online, we consider ourselves lucky that our kids weren’t into smearing their poop on the walls, the carpet, the furniture, or onto themselves! Hearing about these stories helped to put what we were going through, and to a degree are still going through today, into a perspective that we could actually appreciate.
Let’s Talk Poop
At some point along the way I found myself freely talking about pooping experiences and habits with just about anyone who was willing to listen. It didn’t seem fair to keep all of these “happy and proud” parenting experiences trapped inside of me and not share them with other parents, daycare providers, teachers, social workers, therapists, checkers at the grocery store, tennis opponents (getting the thought of poopy diapers in their heads messes with their game), and now blog readers. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid the topic all together when one, or in some cases both kids, announce to a perfect stranger in the supermarket, “I went big poop in the potty!” There are only two reasonable options at this point; actively ignore what was said and hope the stranger doesn’t notice the four boxes of Raisin Bran in the cart (it’s on sale and I have a coupon), or simply smile, nod my head and say, “We’re so proud.”
I have this weird ability (sometimes it’s a curse) to keep track of the oddest details. Some (and by some I mean my husband) might say I’m anal retentive or even a little OCD when it comes to keeping track of minute details that no one else has noticed or even cares about. I was programmed this way at some point in my youth so as an adult it’s something that happens uncontrollably. Trust me, if there was an on/off switch I would be using it because at some juncture I unconsciously started to keep track of everyone’s poop schedule, including the dogs!It’s like I’ve turned into a human Excel spreadsheet that generates bar graphs, pie charts and trends (oh my!). Through my unscientific tracking abilities this is what I’ve learned so far. If Ronald isn’t told to go on a daily basis, which I affectionately refer to as “Poop on Command” (POC), then he just won’t go on his own. A POC is almost always met with resistance, accompanied by a head-drop and some pouting, but 10-15 seconds later a “I went big poop” is heard echoing from his chamber. I know what you’re thinking, How does he not realize he has to go. (Okay, maybe it’s not what you’re thinking, but just humor me and refer to the “Let’s Talk Poop” section above.) I’ve lost count of the number of circular conversations I’ve had with Ronald about whether or not he feels the poop in his tummy. Of course it’s never a good idea to have the “do you feel poop in your tummy conversation” right after he’s gone because I’m always met with, “It’s not in my tummy, it’s in the toilet” look on his face.
A few times I’ve experimented in not giving a daily POC to see if he would eventually go on his own, but after keeping it in for 2-3 days he ends up with an unfortunate accident in his underwear. One would think that a 6 year old boy who is so dependent on routine and schedule would end up being the most regular in the family, but instead it’s the one thing that is most irregular about him. Even Humphrey (that’s our dog) is on a schedule. Every night, without fail, after he eats his dinner he’s anxious to go out into the backyard. Jim or I will say (preach), “See, even Humphrey tells us when he has to go potty.”
At the other end of the pooping spectrum is Angelica who does not and will not respond to POC, but you have to be careful of POS – Power of Suggestion.
If there is one thing you can count on with Angelica it’s her inconsistency. We’ll have two, three, even up to four days, where everything is landing in the toilet and then all of a sudden there is havoc in her pull-ups! Here is a classic example of what I’m talking about.
One Friday after arriving home from school Angelica is in the front courtyard blowing bubbles while I’m in the office trying to get some writing done. The office window looks out into the courtyard and the front door, adjacent to the office, is wide open, so I can keep a watchful eye on her (always a necessity). We’ve had several days of things not landing in the potty so I decide to have yet another conversation with her about the importance of going poop in the potty. It went something like this…
“Angelica, where does your poop and pee go?”
“In the potty.”
“Does it go in your pull-up?”
“Noooo, not in my pull-up. In the potty.”
“Does poop feel good in your pull-up?”
“Noooo, poop in my pull-up is yucky!”
“That’s right, it’s very yucky. And Daddy Thomas and Daddy Jim don’t like cleaning up your poopy butt. So when you have to go poop you’ll go in the potty, right?”
And with that she goes back to playing with her bubbles in the courtyard. A few minutes later I see Angelica jamming herself into a corner, slightly bent at the knees, while scrunching up her face and making a grunting sound.
“Angelica! What are you doing?”
“Not me go poop in my pull-up.”
“Get over here right now!”
She plucks herself from the corner and steps inside the house, the all too familiar odor of poop wafts in behind her.
“Is there poop in your pull-up?”
“Let me check.”
She turns around and I peek inside.
“Angelica, we just talked about going poop in the potty and what did you just do?”
“Me went poop in my pull-up.”
Obviously what this little four year old pieced together from our earlier conversation was something like, Daddy Thomas tell me poop in pull-up. It feel good!
I launch into some rant that includes poop, pee, pull-ups, yucky, wiping, smelly, disgusting, potty, listening, talking, gross, training, until her eyes glaze over. Trying to rationalize my way through this isn’t doing me any good and only makes the situation more frustrating. I throw my arms up in the air, clearly the universal parental sign of disgust and I’m so over you and this situation right now.
However, I’m sure Angelica’s interpretation is more like, You’ve surrendered and victory is mine once again.
Oh sweet child, but victory is mine, because thousands…okay, maybe hundreds…alright, two dozen…people have read all about you on the Internet and an electronic copy of this blog will one day mysteriously land on a future boyfriend’s iPad (or whatever is the hottest Apple device at that time) and be linked to your Facebook page…forever!
— Thomas L-L