I’ve literally been dragging my feet around this but I figure that it’s time. Again. To potty train!
I think I’m still traumatized from my experience with Sam, even though it’s already been over 2.5 years since then. I still maintain: Potty Training is the most stressful part of child-rearing (for me) to date!
You’d think it would have been worlds easier because we’re now in Manila (added hands, wooden and not carpeted floors…) and because it’s technically my second attempt. To a certain extent, yes. It was a tad bit easier. But before I get to that and why, I’ll be honest and say it was also so much more challenging on different levels.
From here on out, there will be a lot of errr… potty language. So if you’re eating, I suggest you finish the meal first. And if you’re a mom then it probably won’t be anything new to you anyway, so carry on. 😉
What made this challenging?
1. A previously unpleasant experience. The irony of potty training Jamie was that she got the peeing right fairly quickly. It was the poop-ing which was causing us grief. A few months back Jamie was heavily constipated and after a few days, the pediatrician suggested a suppository. After I put it in, I sat Jamie on the potty because I thought it was the best place for her to spread her legs and push. Of course it was a painful experience. Worse, it stuck. She refused to poop in the potty and would “hold it in”, at least until someone would cave and put her back in diapers.
At one point in the week, I realized this was becoming a habit, so I made the call to remove it completely. We’d either have to live with poop falling everywhere, or gently coax her to poop in the potty.
There was a significant amount of poop everywhere.
Yes, you can laugh at my expense. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so thankful for a) Lysol, b) Rubbing Alcohol and c) Breeze. I kid you not, these three save my sanity.
2. Depending on others. Of course as her mother, I could somehow “withstand” Jamie’s poop. However as Manila life would have it, I wasn’t always home, nor was I constantly following her around. During Sam’s potty training days, I literally shadowed her everywhere and timed every attempt, so I KNEW. We didn’t have accidents because for a whole week, that’s all I did. I tried to teach the nannies to watch out for the signs so that they could rush her to the potty in time, to no avail. And on the occasion that I wasn’t home, they’d take the easy way out and put her in diapers. So the training wasn’t consistent, and I realized self-preservation was more important. Everyone else would rather avoid the stinky mess and keep her in diapers.
3. The trust (or lack of it). And so because I was the only one trying to get Jamie through it, she would only poop with me. I had to pencil in periods of time within my day to accommodate Jamie’s bathroom breaks.
I spent (spend) a good part of it
sitting squatting at eye level, coaxing her through it gently. I’d talk about what a brave girl she is, or what a big girl she’s turning out to be. Who would have thought poop in the right place would make me so proud?
I learned that if she kept crying and struggling, then we were more at risk to have an unsuccessful attempt. So I had to find ways to calm her down and distract her. That’s when it hit me: No wonder people bring in newspapers to the potty!
After I get her in place, Jamie would ask for a specific book to read while on the John. We’d hit the chosen story midway before I’d hear a ploop! Success.
4. Screening her diet. Working toward the goal of giving Jamie a “pleasant poop experience”, I’d have to veto favorite foods and convince her to put more fiber in her diet. It’s not easy; we are in the thick of the terrible two’s after all. Slowly though I’ve been able to reason with her on the basis that her bun wouldn’t hurt as much.
I can’t complain, Jamie’s a fast learner. It’s the story of her life. Even her preschool teachers didn’t have to put her back in diapers (which is normally the case I’m told after days of accidents in school). She knew when and what to do right away. Here’s what I think made it easier this time around:
1. “Like Ate”. Jamie is a fast learner because she has Sam as her teacher and model. For a while, Sam would take Jamie with her to the bathroom and show her the “pee” and the “poo” that was in the bowl. It was quite gross in my opinion — two kids putting their heads directly above the opening of a toilet bowl! Ugh! But I realized that this gesture helped Jamie grasp what needed to happen. All credit to Sam too, she was very encouraging of Jamie throughout the whole process.
2. Tempering my own expectations. There is merit for having done this before. I was less stressed when the accidents came because I was expecting them. I knew how to limit the accidents, but I also knew that it would be a power struggle in the beginning. I didn’t fight harder, I just knew how to handle it better. 😉
3. Jamie’s self-awareness. Gotta hand it to this kid. It helped that Jamie hated the accidents too. “Waaaaaaaah!!! I’m weeeeet!” she’d wail as if the world had ended. We didn’t have to do the sticker rewards because Jamie was bothered enough by the consequences of being wet or dirty (in that sense). Soon enough she took to the routine: After waking up, before leaving the house, before going to bed, and so on.
4. Having the right tools, especially in public restrooms. Potty seat covers are my best friend. I cannot leave home without it. Alongside Lysol On-the-Go and a whole bunch of wipes of course. (A noteworthy discovery: the pay restrooms in the Ayala Malls don’t charge you if you tell them the kids will use the bathroom. They’re much cleaner too.)
The happiness over Jamie’s potty achievements were (are) palatable. The whole world knows she peed and pooped in the potty because she broadcasts it. And we all congratulate her, applaud her, and do the dance of joy, and it’s good because it builds her self-confidence and self-esteem. Deep down I rejoice for a different reason: Relief. I don’t have to bathe myself in Lysol, rubbing alcohol and/or Breeze for that day.