Monday, February 15, 2010

Potty Pride

I am pleased to report that we are knee-deep into potty training.

And I have a four-year-old girl to thank for it.

But first, let me back up a few steps. When Drew turned two, I began to develop severe anxiety on the issue of potty training. I have no idea where my thinking was coming from, or why I had this impression, but I thought that at some point in the following six months, Drew would need to be potty trained. But as I looked at him at two years old, there was no way. As smart as I thought he was :) I knew there was no way this kid was going to be able to learn the complicated processes involved in peeing in a potty. So couple that with the self-induced "competition" all mothers have with each other: "My son is two months younger than yours and he was potty trained at 22 months" or "My son was potty trained in one day" and my anxiety had turned into downright fear (severe anxiety + unreal expectations = F.E.A.R.).

Add on to this my belief that I was in no way capable of being a potty trainer. How do you do it? How often? What's the process? When do you start? How do I encourage instead of scar my kid so I'm not stuck home-schooling a nine year old who still wears diapers?!?!

See what I mean? A little bit on the side of crazy here.

So for the past year, I have not been looking forward to this particular toddler milestone. Am I tired of buying diapers for two kids? YEP. It would be great to have a few extra dollars in our pockets instead of having it pooped on (literally) and thrown out, but in no way, shape, or form was I looking forward to this task. I would have paid big money to have someone do it for me.

Instead, I spent big money on bribes.

When, at two years, Drew first expressed some kind of curiosity with the potty, I had run off to the Dollar Store to purchase prizes for positive potty results. For a very short time, he did occasionally use his potty, resulting in being able to pick one of these prizes. This, very quickly, became not as exciting for Drew as originally hoped, and any kind of potty talk ceased.

Anxiety, fear, distress...commence.

So I pulled out the big guns.

(Do you see what irrational fear does to me?!?!)

For probably the last year, I've been collecting these Cars cars. It first started on the notion that I'd tuck them away for future holidays and birthdays (as I became pretty convinced that I, er, I mean Drew, would want the entire collection). But then Drew fell in love with these cars. And I knew, just knew, they would be a great incentive for potty training.

But alas, at every mention of "Do you want to use the potty Drew? You can have a car...", the answer was always "No."

Dang it.

So we stashed the cars away, constantly hoping that someday they'd make it out of their bag and into Drew's hands.

And then, I started learning. Thanks to the encouragement of many great friends who have boys themselves, I became educated. I learned that Drew will know when he's ready, and when he knows, he'll let me know. I learned that he will be potty trained before homeschooling becomes my only alternative. Most importantly, I learned that the average age for boys to be potty trained is 39 months. Three years and three months. They take longer, for whatever reason, than girls do. Because hearing of all my girlfriends' daughters being trained at 2-2 1/2 years had me on edge, this helped immensely to know that Drew was, so far, on track. (I, of course, preferred Drew to be on this side of average, but this fact alone calmed me incredibly.) And so I relaxed. Some. And waited for Drew to tell me when he was ready.

And be still my heart, Drew said the sweetest words on Super Bowl Sunday:

"Mom, I want to use the potty."

Uh, excuse me? What? You do?

"I want to use the potty. I'll be a big boy and won't have to wear these [pointing to his diaper] anymore."

Well, you're right, son! You go right on ahead and sit down!

We had some friends and youth kids over for the game that night, among them Drew's friend Bekah (the one that is going to marry Drew some day). She used the bathroom a couple times while she was here, and each time Drew would patiently wait for her outside the door. Bekah's example must have made something click in Drew's brain. After everyone left, and Drew and I were on our way to the stairs to head up to bed, he stops by the bathroom door and declares his intention to pee in the potty.

Music to a mother's ears!

He ended up not using the potty that night (after 45 minutes of sitting and book reading) but I had renewed hope in my beloved first born son. We could do this, him and me. We could get our potty training on!

So Monday morning came, and thus began Drew's journey toward big boyhood.

We got off to a rocky start, however. Drew said he wanted to wear his underwear, but what I didn't know at that time is that he had to poop, and he wasn't about to do it in either his underwear or the potty. So he held it, and consequently, held his pee, until 1:30 that afternoon. Let's just say...not a pleasant experience for mother or son (although I did learn he had the ability to hold it!). But after that had subsided, we were off. I kept him in his diaper throughout the week (not wanting to relive that Monday trauma) and we were back and forth from the bathroom a lot. And once he realized his prize for using his potty was a new Cars car, he was back in the bathroom five minutes after having peed! But hey, it worked. He received three cars on Monday, five on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and two each on Thursday and Friday. (I had a lot of cars stashed away!)

This has been the constant state of our bathroom for the past week. Books to read, card games to play, Cars cars, and a pillow for mom to sit on!

Brad's parents were here for the weekend, and knowing I'd have their help with Reed while I was in the bathroom with Drew (it's a bit difficult to help and encourage Drew in the bathroom when I have a Monkey crawling all over me!), Saturday was Day #1 in big boy underwear. And he's been in them ever since. Two accidents on Saturday, but none since. And he refuses to wear pull-ups. Kid's got guts.

Drew received his last Cars car prize this morning, so our friend Piggy Bank is the new incentive. Drew receives 25 cents for pee and 50 cents for both, and at whatever time we feel he's done "training" (at least with this intensive stuff), he'll be able to go to the store to pick out his own car.

So here we are. Well on our way. I know we're just beginning and have a ways to go, but we've made so much progress. Drew's made so much progress. And all that anxiety, fear, and turmoil I was self-inflicting has been washed away by pride. I couldn't be more proud of my little guy. I've realized this past week that learning how to use the potty is a huge accomplishment, and, as odd as this might sound, hearing the excitement in Drew's voice when he exclaims, "Mama, I peed!" fills me with overwhelming joy.

"Mama, I'm a BIG BOY!"

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