There are a lot of really gross things that happen in the life of a parent. We know this. We are prepared, as best we can, for the many and varied ways our children find to gross us out. I knew this, I’m sure. I mean, it’s not like I had never been around children before mine came along. I had changed poopy diapers and cleaned up projectile vomit. I had held my bare hand under the mouth of a gagging toddler to have chewed french fries deposited in it. I have a son who was born with a cleft palate; he used to be able to push all kinds of amazing foods up through the hole in his palate and out his nose. Every time this happened I was amazed. “We haven’t had peas in days!”, I would marvel. He still has that hole, but it is now much smaller, so no more peas coming through. He can still push chocolate through it, which makes it look as though his nose is bleeding. Always good to freak out a new babysitter or teacher.
But now I have two young children, both boys. And a husband, who also happens to be a boy. And the gross factor is ratcheted up past my comfort zone, on a daily basis.
I used to have a much lower tolerance for the disgusting. Then the first son came along. And I learned a thing or two. Then the second showed up and two years later it seems as though my husband has thrown all sense of decorum out the window and just jumped right in. Right in to the pool of disgusting. The poop jokes, the burps, the oozing science projects, the boogers, the mud and dirt- oh my God the dirt. The dirty underwear and the stained t-shirts and the daily mess. Oh my God the mess. I’m a little scared; my husband seems very comfortable in this gross new world. I fear that I am losing my grip on what is socially acceptable and worry that soon I will be right there with them, burping and farting and then laughing about it. Someone please pull me aside and smack me if you see this happen. I give you full permission…
So we are still, STILL, in the trenches with the potty training. Who knows why, really. Could be Sensory Processing Disorder. Could be stubbornness. Could be a simple delay due to how he arrived in our home. Whatever the reason, we are still living by the clock, the potty, and load after load of soiled underwear. I have visited bathrooms across the city, at every restaurant, park, and library we frequent. We have tried bribing. I have filled my pockets with candy and small toys and kicked my husband and oldest son out of the house for the weekend so that my youngest and I could totally focus just on the training. I have created sticker charts and elaborate reward systems. I have researched and downloaded potty training apps and games as rewards. I have handed out mini chocolate chips, M&M’s, and “big kid” candy, such as taffy. We have made more than one trip to our local Target to pick out underwear with his current favorite characters on them. Which is not as easy as it sounds, seeing as his favorites change weekly. (But who am I to complain? Who doesn’t love a reason to visit Target!)I have read books and blogs and cried and yelled and fussed and given up a thousand times. If any of you need potty training advice, I can give it. I feel as though I know everything there is to know about the topic of potty training. That’s right. I can’t train up my own child but here I am offering you advice. How’s that for gutsy?
All of these tactics worked, for a short time. My youngest son cannot process consequences or follow through with rewards. So they work only sometimes. And sometimes they just add too much pressure and the reward is either expected and demanded, or simply tossed back in my face, defiantly. (SPD and trauma kids appear defiant when that isn’t really what is going on, but in the moment, that is sure what it feels like.)
So you can imagine how we praise when the potty is used. Which is frequently. Every day he gets a little closer. Well, not every day. Some days it seems all we do is change his clothes. But then there are other days when he is totally on top of the whole potty thing. So we praise. We clap and celebrate and sing songs and do all of those things you do with a toddler who is potty training. But my kid isn’t a toddler. He is a four year old. And while he is delayed in some areas he is right on target in others. He knows how to use our iPhones. He knows all about texting and being able to reach someone RIGHT NOW. Which is how I found myself standing in the middle of the grocery store the other day with my oldest son when I heard my phone ding from deep inside my purse. It was the ding of a text, so I pulled it out. I opened the text and saw the words “From Alex”. And then I saw the photo that was attached. The photo that prompted me to text back the words “I AM A GIRL!”. Because sometimes I feel as though my boys forget those four little words. I. am. a. girl.
Later when we returned home I was able to get the back story on the very disgusting picture that accompanied the text from my husband. It appears that there was cause for celebration, because the potty had been used. I am imagining that there was much high fiving and cheering going on. And then, perhaps, my husband said, “Your mommy will be so proud of you!” Which, in turn, led to my youngest son saying something like, “Take a picture to show Mommy!”, which probably led to “Show Mommy NOW!”, which led to a very graphic photo being sent to me, A GIRL, in the middle of the grocery store.
I don’t know how they will top that, but I am sure they will find a way. And I am a little afraid.