Since all of the hand-wringing I’ve done both here and on Twitter, I finally sacked up and told Louis’ parents that he has to wear a PullUp while he’s here until he is more fully and reliably trained.
(Read: Trained at all. Right now he’s mostly trained to only pee when reminded and poop in his underwear whenever the supervising adult looks away for enough time. But diplomacy is important.)
Fortunately, we had A Poop Incident here last week that lent credence to my insistence that I was spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with Louis and the potty. It was a shitstorm so epic, so uncontained, so OH MY GOD HOW IS THERE POOP ON YOUR NECK that I actually had to give the child a bath at 11AM. Every article of clothing he had, including his socks, had poop on it somewhere. This happened while I was rocking Daisy before her nap – I was out of the room for five minutes. That was the final, final straw that gave me the necessary intestinal fortitude to set some boundaries.
Although ultimately I will need to stop reminding him to visit the potty – because he isn’t tuned in to his body’s signals right now and that can’t continue – I’m happy to carry on with him in PullUps and me reminding him regularly to go have a pit stop. My stress levels are way down because changing a poopy diaper is much easier than dealing with accidents in underwear. His stress levels are down too, which is a huge thing; he was feeling too much pressure to succeed and was starting to say things like “that poop is never coming out” and “I think it’s stuck” – very defeating language for a not-quite-three-year-old.
I did get some push back from him on the PullUps, though – because of course “diapers are for BABIES”. There were some tears and tantrums. A lot of whining. But I was calm about it and just explained that until the poops get into the potty, he needs to wear his “practice pants” while he’s here.
Louis had several successful potty visits in the morning, with prompting. He then had a very long nap; lately he’s been sleeping until 4:30, when I finally go haul him out of bed. He played by himself for a while, and then just before 5PM I announced clean up time.
Well, Louis promptly burst into noisy, screamy tears – which to be fair to Louis, is not his usual defiance response. I walked over to give him a hug and got a snootful of nasty bumfug as soon as I got within two feet of him. Checked his PullUp, nothing there, but I insisted he take a try on the potty.
More tears. And whining. But I remained cheerful yet firm. Plopped him on the potty and said I’d check on him in a few minutes.
When I went back in ten minutes later, the smell was indescribable. “It came out!” he announced. “AND IT LOOKS LIKE A DINOSAUR!”
There are no words, people, for what I found in that potty. It was the size of his head. The smell was an actual physical force. It did not noticeably resemble a dinosaur, although I suppose if a T-rex ate a herd of hadrosaurs and then dropped a deuce it would probably smell about the same.
I tried flushing it down the toilet. It wouldn’t go down. I got out the plunger. I swore a lot. I was actually envisioning myself calling a plumber to try and explain that “look, a 35 month old pooped in there, and it’s a damn low-flush toilet – you figure it out”. And unless the plumber has kids, he will think I’m lying to cover for myself.
I eventually cleared the blockage. I did my usual fan / scented candle / open windows routine. I gave Louis his two Smarties.
I am waiting for my present. I feel like I probably deserve a little something extra, after all that.
Today, his whole attitude about the potty is markedly different. When I say “hey, time for a pit stop!” he replies “I have to pee!” and then runs to do it, without my help. We haven’t had a single tantrum today.
Clearly, he is proud of himself, and nothing succeeds like success. I’m sure it will not be a linear process forward for a while yet, but he’s happier and believing in the process again, and that’s enough for me.