Monday, September 19, 2011

Poop - a humbling experience

We had a really good weekend. Little Miss pooped in the potty! Finally.
Yes, that’s what parenthood does to you. One day you’re writing a thesis paper on Zora Neale Hurston and the next, you’re making unapologetic announcements on the blog about your daughter’s bowel movement. But that’s how it is folks.

We’re celebrating on our end (haha, get it? get it?) because we didn’t think this day would ever come. We were spoiled by our Little Miss, who had hit all of her other milestones with relative ease that we thought nothing of potty training. In fact, we didn’t think about it at all. We figured she’d just wake up one day and decide against diapers and that would be the end of it. So we didn’t do our due diligence. We didn’t read up on training. Nor did we think we needed to.

After all, she pretty much led her own changes. One day she’s in a crib. The next, she’s in a big girl bed - her choice. She was fearless. She slept through the night. She loves veggies. Our toddler was an easy kid. Naturally we took credit and congratulated ourselves for that. Surely we were doing something right. And surely when it came to potty training, it would be a breeze too.  


When we introduced the potty, she would use it only when she felt like it, and she refused to be anywhere near a bathroom for bowel movements.  I thought staying home with me while I was on maternity leave would help with the training, except I was never consistent, and without a plan, she never made much progress. 

I recently found out that her preschool’s three-year-old class would not accept her in the classroom unless she’s fully potty-trained; that’s when I panicked. I only had three months to get her trained! I thought I tried everything - stickers, M&M’s, even punishment for going in her diaper. Nothing worked. 

I had to accept that I could no longer just wing it; I needed help. That's when I carefully selected a book on potty training, read it cover to cover and realized that I was going about it all wrong! I followed the advice, changed my tactics and soon, she started to come around. 

When I decided one day that she would forego diapers and pull-ups and just use underwear that she picked out herself, she made it through the entire day without a single accident. Not only that, on that same day, she also announced unexpectedly that she was going to “read some books and poopoo in the potty.” That was the part I thought I’d have to struggle with for the next few months but to my amazement, that was exactly what she did! I guess when she’s ready, she’s ready.

We celebrated by introducing Star Wars, the movie, to her. This entire time, she has only seen them as characters from her ABC book, but what a treat it was for her to see them as live action heroes (and villains)! I loved seeing her face light up as she named each character and spaceship as they zoomed across the screen. It was better than M&M’s. 

She has gone several times since then and had not had an accident. But this is still new to us, so it may be too soon to tell if she’s fully trained. However, we’re just thrilled we’ve made more progress in the last two weeks than we have in months. All because we sucked it up, stopped thinking miracles would occur just because they had before and sought help.

It’s a humbling experience. I suppose that could be said of both potty training and parenting. We’ve learned that just because we’re ready doesn’t mean our kids are. We’ve been lucky with Little Miss' easy transitions because she was ready for a change long before we were, and so we were never met with a challenge. Now that we have, we had to put aside our ego and assumptions and work hard for the results we wanted.

I think the most important lesson we’ve learned from this is that just when we think it’s safe to feel confident, even smug, about our role as parents, there will always be something that will smack us on the head and bring us back down to earth. 

* * *
What was your most difficult parenting challenge? What were your kids' hardest transition(s)? Have you ever felt like you could rest on your laurels as a parent?