Suburban Snapshots

(Almost) Everybody Poops

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The nice thing about potty training is that you spend so much of your time thinking about someone else's bowel movements, you really don't have the attention for all those stupid little day-to-day worries, like personal hygiene or leaving the house. And it teaches patience, because after investing an entire day making sure your small person keeps her undies dry, you won't risk unraveling her with a frustrated bark when she forgets the whole lesson and pees down her legs in the middle of the living room, too fixated on Backyardigans to notice.

Anna started showing an interest in the toilet months ago, and we've spent a few weekend mornings letting her wear undies and using the potty when we ask. Every 15 minutes I'd ask, "Do you need to go pee?" or remind her "Don't forget to pee on your potty." Poor kid's just trying to fingerpaint or feed her popsicle to the dogs, and I'm constantly up in her grill with the toilet talk.

We've gotten more consistent about it week after week, getting her into undies right after sitting her on the bowl first thing in the morning. Now we don't have to ask if she needs to go because she started telling us — I hear that's a big potty training milestone, not having a kid obey your request to pee on the half hour, but when she recognizes her own need to go.

For all these weeks she was more than willing to run bare-butted into the bathroom, climb up on the "big girl seat" (she uses a stool to grapple up onto the adult bowl while I hold my breath and inventory all the ceramic items she could potentially bounce her head off of) and pee. Each time I'd cheer her on, do a little chicken dance for her, and hand her one gummy fruit. But I still could not get that kid to poop.

She'd be playing with a doll or climbing the backyard slide, suddenly stop, look at me, grab a handful of her own butt cheek, and worriedly say "I need a diaper on!" Translation: I am going to crap my pants, Mom. Prepare to deploy the wipes.

I learned the signs, and waited. I spent most of my day being tuned into Anna's digestive system, expressions and posture. I saw her panic with each stomach gurgle, "I need a diaper!" I sweetly suggested we try the potty, told her I knew she could do it, even used "Lilly loves to poop on her potty!" I'm pretty sure Anna had to go at 10 this morning, but clamped her tiny cheeks together until well after after we'd eaten dinner.

While Steve was out chatting up our new neighbors (whose perpetual yard work is making our house look like Grey Gardens), Anna requested a diaper. I obliged, but I was prepared. She grimaced and was straining to talk. I seized the moment. She protested into the bathroom and as I yanked at her Pull-Up. I hoped this was one of those getting-over-the-hump moments and not a traumatizing-your-kid-forever moments. I sat her down, turned on the shower radio, enticed her with an entire unopened bag of gummy fruit, and started dancing. Success. I yelled out the window for Steve.

I let her survey her accomplishment before flushing it into the ether. I double checked to be sure it was all gone, because I seriously considered having that thing bronzed.

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