Monday, November 17, 2008


Baby experts will tell you that raising children may sometimes bring you to the point of considering doing harm to your child. In those moments, they counsel, walk away from the child and find a constructive outlet for your anger.

I apologize to those who are tired of hearing me talk about poop. But since all I do is shut my loving hubby down when I try to vent to him, I feel this is the most constructive way to avoid doing harm.

So back to the subject. We have been in the process of potty training Rooster for . . . oh well I guess I sorta started him at 18 months, but started in earnest back in June. So let's say 6 months or so.

One day in September I simply put cloth underwear on him, and told him we were on a new way of doing things. It seemed to click after a few days, with the exception of ye olde #2. My cousin has helpfully commiserated with me that she went through six months of daily messes before her youngest son took it upon himself to control the moment and start pooping on the potty.

Six months! I am about to pull my hair out after 10 episodes!

My mom recommended that the "Potty Boot Camp" way involves having them clean up their own messes. So I added that to the routine about two weeks ago. You should have seen the Rooster's face the first time I had him do that!

"But . . . I'll get my hands all dirty!"

No, really?

It takes steely determination to allow a child to clean poo off of himself. The self-cleaner ends up getting it all down his legs, all over the tile floor (and in the grout, gross!), all over the inside and outside of the toilet, and pretty much all over the tub, too. Then he has to clean all of that up, which involves half a roll of paper towels, sixteen flushes of the toilet, and two baths: one for himself, one for the tub. I'm gritting my teeth and trying to stick with it, but dear Lord the amount of smeared poop just turns my stomach. And I happen to be allergic to bleach, so no chance of actually disinfecting it to my satisfaction.

I think we are having limited success with this method. He now only poops every second or third day, and in the last week has done so on the potty exactly 50% of the time. Two hits--hooray! And three spectacular messes. One day he went on the potty, then in his pants an hour later. That is so unfair! It's almost worse now, because my expectations have been raised.

I read a new book last week, a male expert's natural consequences method of parenting. His advice regarding potty training:
There is a certain number of underwear you can wear in a given day. If you took a poll of people in your community, you would find that the mean, median and mode are one pair of panties a day. That means if a child forgets to come in to go potty and wets his pants outside, he comes into the house, and his day outside has come to an end. It's a simple cause and effect that makes a child responsible for his own bladder.
Are you serious? Let's think about this. So, am I to let the child roam the house exposing his jewels to the family for the rest of the day? I think that could be more accurately classified as reward than punishment. And what about the natural consequence of "Mommy has to go get big sissy from school, and you have to come"? Mommy could get arrested for not providing a second pair of undies for that outing!

I find this advice so unhelpful! And it's the one snippet of thought that I simply can't get out of my head. I would dearly love to ask this expert how he would apply that advice to an actual three year old, because I simply cannot work out a scenario in which that advice works for this situation.

While dear sweet hubby does a fantastic job in the dad category, this is one area in which he is utterly unhelpful. When we are both home during an incident, our sense of futility combines into an unholy rage that neither of us is capable of defusing. Half the time I find myself intervening on behalf of the Pooper in order to spare his life from one even less charitable than I! Now, after several of those experiences, I am beginning to harbor feelings of resentment toward both of the favorite men in my life. This just totally sucks.

I refuse to give up and put pullups or diapers back on him. I think that would be allowing the Rooster to win. So we (excuse me, I mean I, except for those occasional moments when Daddy has mercy on Mommy and carries the load for her) just deal with the messes every two to three days, and pray each time for the grace to get through one more time.

But I am simply at my wits' end. And I am so incredibly, definitively, thoroughly sick of poop.

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