Potty Progress?

Context: Last night, Owen  refused to go potty before supper and then purposefully peed in his diaper (to save time?).

After supper, Owen’s strawberry and pineapple have a little conversation, while waiting to be dipped in chocolate:

Owen (as Pineapple): “Do you want to have supper now?”

Owen (as Strawberry): “Yes, but I have to go potty first.”

Owen (as Pineapple): “Oh, good idea.”

Owen (as Narrator): “Now he go to the potty.” He examines a drip of chocolate coming off the strawberry. “That’s his penis.” He moves the strawberry over to the round cupholder of his high chair. “Pee-pee in the potty, pee-pee in the potty.” And the strawberry returns to the bowl with the pineapple.

Owen (as Strawberry, to Pineapple): “OK, time for supper now. Are you so proud of me?”

I think this was a small act of contrition for his earlier mystifying potty rebellion.

He continues to wear diapers.

Jesus uses the Potty: A Christmas Story

Last week, Owen and I built our first snowman of the year. The snow was powdery and impossible to pack together, but we made a little mound and then another one, and found some wood chips and branches for the eyes, nose, and arms. When we were finished (or so I thought), Owen said, “But the snowman need a penis for pee-pee in the potty.” Of course he does. So I (ever encouraging potty training) obligingly supplied a small twig in an appropriate location. We made this wee (wee-wee) snow man at the park… I kind of hope no one looked too closely.

When I was a teenager, and well into my adulthood, my family attended the candlelight Christmas eve service at a Presbyterian church in Rockburn. We weren’t Presbyterian (and we dropped into church one day a year), but it’s the prettiest church around, and I think it’s the closest one to my parents’ house. Because it’s situated in a rural area and because of generally dwindling attendance, this church always had a hard time finding ministers. One year, there was no minister at all, and the congregation had decided to put on the Christmas Eve service themselves. Children were sent up to the altar to read heartwarming poems they’d written about the magic of Christmas. Adolescents and adults read about the Nativity. The choir is always wonderful, so we heard solos and duets, and then joined in for the choruses. We held our candles and sang “Silent Night.” The most “creative” part of the service was a reenactment of “Mary and Joseph: The Untold Story.” Two parishioners went to the front of the church and, acting as Mary and Joseph, proceeded to have an argument about which one of them was going to change Jesus’ diaper. I think they were trying to humanize the holy couple, but the whole thing left me kind of aghast.

Anyway, at some point before Christmas, in an attempt to show Owen that the holiday was not simply about Santa Claus and presents, I told him the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay for the night so Mary could have her baby. It’s a beautiful story – I’d forgotten how human it is. A pregnant mother seeking lodging must finally accept shelter in a barn with animals. Mary (and Jesus) are so vulnerable in this account, and I guess the presence of the animals have appealed to children through the ages. After I told him this story, and throughout the Christmas season, Owen would every now and then ask me to draw baby Jesus, or make baby Jesus out of play-dough. Tonight, I was tired, so I explained to Owen how I made baby Jesus out of play-dough. We made a round head, a longer body, and then a blanket (the swaddling clothes). But Owen, toddler that he is, soon took off Jesus’s blanket and held him over one of the empty play-dough containers.

“I have to take off baby Jesus’ blanket.”

“Why do you have to do that, Owen?”

“I want baby Jesus to go potty,” he said.

Of course you do.

When asked whether he himself would like to go, the reply was a breezy “Not yet. After supper.” Meanwhile, he peed (and pooped) in his diaper.

(I’ll just let you guess what I was thinking).

The Potty Party

Owen and I have been doing the potty dance. We’re getting acquainted with the ins and outs (mostly outs) of what goes into our bodies. I may have mentioned this, but a couple of weeks ago, a request to pee in the potty in the morning would send him into the bathroom where he would throw the potty across the room. This from a boy who peed in the same potty every evening without incident.

I was mystified as to why my little boy was so anti-potty. A friend lent me “Potty Training for Dummies” – yes, it exists! – and while I have yet to try the “potty weekend mambo,” I have stolen a couple of tricks from the book that somehow got Owen enthusiastic again about the potty adventure (Thanks, Jen!). One of the tricks was to forget about getting him to use the potty – get him to show a doll what to do. Undress the doll, sit the doll down, flush the mythical contents, and wash the doll’s hands. This worked like a charm. Immediately after the doll did his business, Owen wanted to imitate the steps. The other trick, which I had never considered, is the idea of empowerment – apparently it’s really important to teach a child to pull down his or her own pants so when the potty trained day comes, the child is self-sufficient. We practiced pulling pants up and down for a couple of days and this also helped Owen get enthusiastic about a skill he can do himself. He’s taken to putting on his own boots and slip-on shoes, too. I like this independent streak!

The potential downside to this potty enthusiasm is that now he knows how PROUD we are of him for everything his body produces in the potty. But he hasn’t yet realized that we don’t tell EVERYONE about our potty products. Last night, we were at a party and on the way there, Owen asked, “We go to a potty party?” We’ve been dancing our way to the potty lately, singing “potty party, potty party” (if my students only knew the levels to which I sink [rise?] on the weekends)… I said that it was NOT going to be a potty party, but that if he wanted to use the potty, to just tell me, and I’d help him to go.

So, sure enough, in the middle of the party, one of the party-goers saw my son head for the bathroom. I went in with him, and he started to pull down his pants.

“We make it a potty party, Mummy?” Indeed.

And then, when we exited the bathroom, 10 or so people (adults, all childless as far as I could tell) were informed that “I made a pee-pee in the big potty and I flushed it and I washed my hands. You so proud of me?”

The thing is, I’m totally proud of him. And I kind of feel like strangers should be, too… I guess he shouldn’t be telling strangers about his urine but – seriously – where’s the harm?

So, we continue to dance the potty dance together, partying on the potty trying to get the signals lined up. I’ll keep you posted (because you all care, right?)