I pick strange hills to stand upon, at strange times. I’ve been seen scrubbing the walls of my dining room while heavily pregnant, not stopping even when company comes over to visit (sorry about that, my friend who felt compelled to help out so I’d finish and stop). I’ve spent hours on a beautiful sunny afternoon digging through my children’s rooms and reorganizing them. I’ve spent hours on my hands and knees with a sudden urge to scrub the dining room floor before a party.
Today, I’ve apparently decided that I’m going to potty train Kender or die trying. If you haven’t noticed, Kender is now 5 years old, although developmentally I think he is about 2. The only time he has ever peed in a toilet was once when he was 18 months old. We were on a road trip and made a pit stop, and I had taken Kender into the stall with me because I had nobody to leave him with. When I finished, he tried to copy me, and he actually did it. As my luck usually goes, I didn’t have a single piece of candy that I could give him to mark the moment, which never happened again.
I’ve tried all the tricks I know. I’ve set him on the potty on regular schedules, such as every 30 minutes or before every meal. I’ve done the intense potty training in a day, complete with the doll that wets. (The in-a-day routine didn’t fully train my other kids, but it at least taught them the concept and mechanics, so that practice and time could handle the rest.) I’ve kept him in cloth training pants, so that he can feel when he’s wet. I’ve let him watch just about every member of the household use the toilet. I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face about how everybody else goes potty. I’ve let him run around completely naked (that day, he waited until I wasn’t looking, then grabbed a pull-up and held it in his crotch to pee on).
Some things don’t have much use for him. He doesn’t watch videos or read books (not for lack of trying on our part!), so we can’t use those, nor are they a way to keep him occupied while sitting on the toilet for an extended time.
Kender shows almost every sign of readiness. He stays dry at night, and will go for hours without peeing or pooping when in a strange place. (He famously went 14 hours without any elimination when we visited my dad for his birthday last September.) He can dress and undress himself and get on and off the toilet. He can tell when he is wet or poopy, and (although not always) will ask to be changed. He can follow simple commands.
What he can’t seem to understand is that pee and poop, those things that make him wet and stinky, are the things that everybody else puts in the potty.
He thinks flushing the toilet is just a great way to make noise. He thinks any noise of peeing in the potty is actually caused by people splashing their hands in the water, and so he loves to get in the bathroom and play in the toilet water (dear gods no, I don’t encourage this!!!!!). When we used the (anatomically correct, mind you) doll that wets, he decided that pouring cups of water in the toilet to make that sound was what I wanted him to do. One time, he had me fooled for a couple of hours, thinking he was going potty when he was actually reaching the arm I couldn’t see behind him and splashing in the water.
If I could just get that connection, that most basic concept across to him, I think he would go straight to being fully potty training almost instantly. Even if not, I would be happy just to see the connection, to have even a partially-trained child who has lots of accidents. Accidents I can deal with. It’s having a child big enough to be in kindergarten yet still be full time in full diapers that is driving me insane.
Back to that idea of picking strange times for strange battles. Today, Kender not only woke up dry. He stayed dry for over an hour, through cuddling in my lap, playing with the doors, and starting on his breakfast. He was still dry when he went to go take his pajamas off and put on clothes. I know there has to be something in that bladder of his. So here I am, waiting in the bathroom with a screaming Kender until he pees. Hopefully he’ll do it on the potty. If not, I am right here waiting to put him on the potty when the flow starts, just to make the point. I don’t have any time-sensitive obligations today, nothing that can’t wait. So here I will stand, today, and fight this battle for the potty, and maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to figure out how to change a poopy diaper on a strapping 5-year-old in the privies at the Renaissance Festival tomorrow.