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From The Patrick File

For The Four And Under Crowd

Since early childhood I have favored the notion that I might be a prodigy at, um, something. It always seemed to me that this would be the easy way to live and as many times as my mother would explain that those little violin geniuses worked very very hard at their craft I would always retort that they certainly did not work as hard as I would have to in order to achieve the same results. I mean, look at these stubby fingers!

In time, I sadly came to accept that I am not a prodigy after all (although just contemplate all of the things I have never even attempted: the monovalve b'rugalsec! Farsi! synchronized swimming! perhaps I am exceptionally gifted at any number of things and I just haven't tried them yet... the mind boggles at my untapped potential) BUT the notion that easier is better has stayed with me. Some call this mere laziness and to them I say.... eh.

This is why I do not like parenting books. The sleep guides and the food directives and the stage-by-stage analyses all seem to be predicated upon the notion that some sort of parental exertion is required to achieve maximum childage whereas I like to believe that the tree just grows in Brooklyn. "More sleep! Less stress!" that's my motto.

So it is with a heavy heart that I finally realized Patrick was not just going to come up to me one day and say, "Excuse me, mother, I need to use the men's room. I'll be back in a moment." Months of my most eager, "Hey! Would you like to sit on the potty?" have been met with a curt "No" and many times the kid has flat-out lied to me when questioned about the state of his posterior. I decided it was time to get a little more interactive with the process. I will confess right now, it's killing me.

We are three days into Potty Watch and, seriously, I am frazzled to a vanilla crisp and in need of any advice you can slather upon me.

This is what I have done. Tell me what I should do next. 

First, I let Patrick have an M&M. As this was his first introduction to anything sweeter than a graham cracker (yes! I KNOW! I DO keep Peppermint Patty Bites in my bedside table! I DO have Altoids cinnamon gum in my desk and purse and pockets and just a pinch between my cheek and gum! I am a H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E) it went over like an atomic blast of goodness. He tried it. He savored it. He smacked his tongue against the roof of his mouth for ten minutes afterwards trying to recapture its essence. He said, "Want another treat with an 'M' on it?" I said, "SURE! If you sit on the potty!"

Then he and I made a Potty Chart. It had his name AND an apostrophe (letters! punctuation! he swooned.) It had lots of little boxes (squares! inside a rectangle! his heart!) and the boxes were numbered (o! how he loves numbers!) As the coup de grace I bought a couple of sheets of cat stickers (also dogs, butterflies and flowers, but they do nothing for him) and explained that he could put a STICKER in a SQUARE under a NUMBER beneath the LETTERS when he used the potty.

At which point we entered a potty detente that lasted several weeks. His desire for chocolate and the chart warred with his unwillingness to take orders like some sort of Golden Retriever, but he finally caved after our return from the beach. He sat. I handed him five M&Ms. He sat again. He got more M&Ms. Nothing happened but it was a step in the right direction.    

On Monday I put underwear on him and he promptly wet himself. "Huh," he said. "It's cool," I said and put on another pair. These got drenched five minutes later. "Are you wet?" he asked. "Apparently," I replied, wringing him out.

On Tuesday I abandoned the underwear and let him run around pants-less. When Steve saw him wander thusly into his office he shied like I was waving a loaded gun around. "It is a natural thing," I told Steve sententiously. All day Patrick would start to pee on the floor or a chair or my lap and then would stop himself. "What did you do?" he would come find me to ask.

"Did you pee?"

"Yes," he would say and take me to whatever little puddle he had created.

"That's ok! Let's go finish on the potty!" And I would sit him down and he would pee. And get a sticker. And count the stickers. And it was good. He even forgot about the M&Ms, so I ate them. Huzzah!

On Wednesday I tried putting pants on him again and he promptly got soaked. So we are back to being All Nude All the Time (except at bedtime. and naps. and our trip to Target to lay in another potty and more stickers. then he was re-diapered up to his eyeballs. Is that wrong?)

As I was typing this Patrick came over and asked for some Playdough. I said, "OK, just use the potty first." And he walked over, competently flipped up the lid, sat down and voila! Pee! God how I love the stuff. Then he wanted another sticker so he went over and tried again.

So....  I think things are progressing but I have questions.

When should I try to put underwear on him again? How long do I keep putting diapers on at naptime and bedtime? How on earth do I ever get him to use a toilet that is more than 12 inches high? Are we going to be confined to the house forever? Also, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our current potty philosophy. You know... it ain't all just pee. I was trying to encourage Patrick to poop in there as well and... WOW... "upset" does not even begin to cover his emotions when he realized what the hell it was I was trying to get him to do. Does that go away or should I just sign him up with a competent therapist?

ANY suggestions at all would be vastly appreciated. For those of you who are not currently obsessed with the content of someone else's bowels and bladder my most heart-felt apologies to you for having read this. 

I swear I will write something suitably Adult next.

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