My son is learning to go to the potty. After an ill advised attempt to potty train him over the Christmas holidays (future parents take note: attempting potty training during the Christmas season is stupid), we began the adventure anew over Spring Break. It was tough going at first, but with the help of pull-ups and some serious helicopter parenting (“Do you need to go pee? How bout now? How bout now? Now? How bout now?”) we finally made some progress.
He’s wearing big boy underwear. Stands on a big boy step stool. Makes a rainbow go splash into the bowl. Even flushes it himself. By all accounts, it’s going gangbusters, and so is he. Heck, he practically enjoys it, especially since he gets paid in M&Ms whenever he does go pee-pee in the potty.
So why am I having a nervous breakdown over this? Easy: because the boy simply refuses to completely learn to potty.
In an attempt to be delicate, I will guard my use of colorful metaphors, but as most of us know, there are two distinct things that a person can elect to do in the potty. My son has no issue with the first, often referred to as “Number One.” It’s the second thing, “Number Two,” with which he has issues. As in, he absolutely refuses to even consider “Number Two,” regardless of how much you plead with him.
At best, he’ll offer to go “Number One” again.
“I go pee-pee more, daddy,” he’ll say, his face all sweet and round and hopelessly cheerful.
“But you just went pee-pee.”
“I know. I go again.”
And the waterworks commence. Usually, this is when I sigh in frustration and try not to lose my temper. I’ll stand up, run my hands through my hair, and try to think of a salient way to communicate the human necessity of bowel evacuation with an almost three year-old. The choices are plentiful, but knowing my son – his personality and almost precocious intellect, as well as his ability to read and react to adult non-verbal cues – I have to select my words carefully to avoid making the situation into a joke.
“You need to poop,” I say. “Everybody poops. We have to poop.”
The word “poop” three times in a row is too much for the lad, and I lose him to a fit of Beavis-and-Butthead type giggling (which is hysterical to hear) followed by his repetition of the word for a solid two minutes. He’ll arch his eyebrows a la Magnum P.I. and look at me with a grin and say, “You said poop! Poooooooooooooo-p!”
And at that point, the battle is over. I am defeated. Beaten. Overcome by the stubborn will of a preschooler and the infinite comic power of the word “poop.” I’ll stand him up, get his pants resituated, and let him flush the toilet in what amounts to his vicarious victory lap as the water swirls around the bowl.
Next time, I tell myself. I’ll get him next time.
I’ve gotten him to actually poop on the potty precisely once. I’ll spare you the graphic details, but after a false start (“I pooted daddy!”) he successfully completed the task. I literally stood and clapped.
A standing ovation for poop?
Unfortunately, it has been his only performance. There has been no sequel, except at school. I would say that his penchant for pooping for his teachers is moderately to severely annoying, but I’m at least relieved that the boy goes somewhere; I would hate for him to get impacted. So something is better than nothing. But it still feels like failure for him to simply not go poop.
I realize that if you’re still reading at this point you’re either saying to yourself A) “I can’t believe this moron is actually writing about this!”; B) “He keeps using the word ‘poop’! That’s funny.”; or C) “Yes, I’m there with you! Can we start a support poop? I mean, group?”
If A, then thanks for reading my blog, it’s obviously your first time here. If B, you’re probably a member of my family. And if C, then maybe that’s something we should consider. Because it would help me to know that there are other parents out there who are desperately failing in the potty training realm.
But things like that take time to develop (not to mention sponsors and some kind of program format), so for now I’ll just content myself that my son will eventually “get it” and one day begin pottying like a normal child. I’ll remind myself that he is his own person and has, and will always, do things on his timetable, with occasional spurts of inspiration brought about by my pleading or coaching. I’ll try not to lose my brains when he looks at me for the umpteenth time and says, “I don’t want to go poop. I want to dance.”
In the end, I’ll end up doing what all of us parents do: love him, love him and love him some more. And when he finally gets it, we’ll boogie down and celebrate, potty rock style.