Monday, April 24, 2006

Grace (or mercy, or both)

Mark it on your calendars. This past Friday (Apr 22, 2006), Samuel walked up to my wife and said, "I wanna go peepee in the potty." Actually, it was more like "Iwangopeeihpahee," but you get the idea.

This had never happened to us. Could it really be this easy?

Timothy was a little over 3 years old when Jonah was born, and was still using diapers, meaning that diaper-wearers outnumbered potty-users in our house 3 to 2. That lasted for exactly one week, when my wife declared that she had bought the last box of diapers for Timothy and that I had better figure something out (I think WebVan delivered that box; remember WebVan?).

Timothy had been resistant to the idea of using the potty, if you define resistant as lying on the ground, kicking and screaming for a diaper. In the fullness of parental wisdom, I decided that not putting a diaper on him was the best way to go about it. If something happened, we would clean it up. Thankfully, God oftentimes blesses first-time parents with First Children, and Timothy is no exception. He was so aghast (at 3, mind you) at the idea of messing his pants that, after about an hour of crying on the floor, he got up and went to the potty. He's been using it ever since.

Number of First Child peepee accidents: 1. Number of First Child "other" accidents: 1. Mind you, we thought this was very difficult; we were idiots.

Stephen was easier in some ways and harder in others. Growing up watching Timothy use the potty, he started trying it on his own (this is the key to Stephen: on his own; I think he learned to read on his own, for crying out loud). He started earlier, and was much more willing to abandon diapers, but there were more accidents. This is when we learned to keep diapers on at night until they wake up dry. It's a good lesson.

Our most recent pottytraining experience, with Jonah not quite two years ago, was horrific. Fully invested with his mother's will, he decided around 3 years old that he was not going to use the potty. We have no idea why. We tried lots of different things, including the Timothy Method, (i.e., no diaper; this is also called the $75 method, from a very old estimate of the carpet cleaning bill).

However, where the no diaper method worked in one day on Timothy, we wasted several weeks using it on Jonah. Along the way we discovered some interesting things. First and foremost, Jonah can hold it, all day, in the face of ridiculous pee-inducing tactics, including lots of juice, caffeine (the Pied Piper of liquids in the body), running faucets, and even dipping his hands in warm water. Nothing could break him; Jonah will probably make a great Marine some day. Second, his will is stronger than his sense of shame. Accidents would occur at the end of some especially long days, and he would wet his pants while brushing his teeth or playing in his room. When he did this, he would get very, very mad at us for not putting a diaper on him.

But he would not pee in the potty.

After a few books, it was decided that we would do that potty-training-in-a-day thing. So my wife bravely piled the other three children in the car and left the house one Saturday. I reckoned that since it was a matter of the will, he would only need to pee in the potty once to break the jam. I had him sit on the potty for 15 minutes and would read him his books. Then he could get off the potty for about 10-15 minutes. Then it was back on. Lots of juice, lots of water, a little Coke.

Finally, late in the afternoon, after much crying and begging for a diaper, I was distracting him with a game counting animals in the wallpaper and a little leaked out. He had actually, finally peed in the potty, just a tiny bit. He looked up at me, smiled, and said, "I'm a big boy! I peed in the potty!"

Gall. Pure, unmitigated gall.

We went and watched some TV, then he jumped up and yelled "Peepee's coming!", ran to the bathroom, peed in the potty again, and was very pleased with himself. He bragged to his mother when they came home. I just . . . bah.

Not to dwell on it, but for the next 6 months, there were numerous accidents where Jonah would run past the bathroom into the kitchen and yell "Peepee's coming!", looking at us expectantly. We would tell him to go to the bathroom, but often it was too late. So we've omitted the "tell us when you have to go potty" line from Sam's training.

And here we are, unexpectedly potty-training Sam. It's hard, especially on my wife, who washes all the extra underwear and shorts each day. She also is the one to watch the clock and check up on Sam's status.

Because we're still at the Ask stage, and, since we don't know the magic phrase (another important Jonah lesson), she has to ask lots of questions, all day long: "Sam, is peepee coming? Is poopoo coming? Do you need to go potty? Do you need to sit on the potty?" etc. Even given this barrage of questions, he still sometimes comes to us, crying, saying, "New pants, new pants." But . . . twice on Friday, three times on Saturday, once on Sunday, none today.

And so, as of right now, he does not wear a diaper during the day. Soon there will be none at night-time, then none at all, ever anymore. So big. Yesterday I saw him wearing a pair of map-print shorts that used to be Timothy's, and I almost cried. Okay, I did, just a little.

And someday, sometime in the next few weeks, I'll walk down the aisle at Publix right past the diapers without noticing, just like I walk past the formula and baby food. And another set of finely-honed parenting skills will just disappear.

I'm actually pretty glad that Sam initiated this. Because I could have kept him in diapers for a couple more years. The hours crawl, but the years fly.


At 9:25 AM, Blogger fiorinda said...

I had to pay my sister to get P. to pee in the potty. It was money well spent. We've been letting him sleep in his underwear, but we have to be diligent about getting him up at least twice, small bladders and hard sleepers are a volatile mix.

E.'s been much easier, but she's not consistent. I think we are going to have to go w/out clothes for awhile. She forgets.

Alas, there are several more years of diapers ahead of me.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Becki said...

Now that was a very sweet blog :) Mom


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