Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Get on the Pot!! A Tale of Perseverance and Poop

The top of the refrigerator is where all the good stuff is. Ceramic pots holding keys that don't open anything. Bills that never go away. Important tax information that we pray doesn't slide off the back. Occasionally, a seasonal elf.

And potty bribes. Always display the potty bribe on top of the refrigerator, for all (kids) to see.

Earlier in the year, our world was jolted when we learned our oldest child had scoliosis, until we then learned she'd handle it way better than we would. Then a different situation involving a kid's backside took over and threatened to divide our house.

After boldly foolishly predicting (jinxing) in August I had exactly 13 diapers left to change in my lifetime, it soon became evident that those of you betting the "over" could redeem your winning, poop-stained tickets at a changing table nearest you. Somebody refused to cooperate, even though our diaper budget had officially run out after 7 consecutive years and more money than we spent on cars.

We tried to sweeten the pot for our 2-year-old to sit on the pot by buying a couple of $6 trucks and setting them--guess where-- on top of the refrigerator. Turns out we could have placed the trucks in the attic, the other dead-end destination for overly curious children, back behind the Apple IIe monitors, bowling balls, and broken humidifiers and dehumidifiers. The little guy had less interest in toy trucks than in sitting in a pile of his own mess. Sounds reasonable, amiright, 2-year-olds?

Kids present challenges at all ages. But there are few more painful times than when you're expected to predict exactly when a toddler in underpants is about to crap himself. More painful than watching them try to butter, add syrup to, and slice a waffle. More painful than when other people's kids introduce yours to pop music.

The scene of many crimes lately.
The kid doesn't know when it's time to go. You used to know. He'd grab hold of the biggest piece of furniture in the house, cross his eyes, and turn his face a magenta you haven't seen since the 64 crayons. Now, he disappears into your shoe closet and as you notice he's is missing, you have to fetch a mask and a shovel and hurry to save your favorite slippers.

"I have to POOP!" he beams. Your closet smells like chemical warfare.

One particularly bad evening saw us unwittingly involved in a game of hide and seek with a cold-blooded menace. As my wife innocently called out, "Where arrrrre you?" he answered back in a sing-songy voice, "behind the couuuuuuch!"

"What are you dooooooing?"

"Poooping my paaaaaants!"

And we both scrambled to our feet, pre-empted the game, moved the couch, located the perpetrator and frowned as he smiled, another lost opportunity to get the kid on the pot.

Our life had turned into the first 20 minutes of a kidnapping movie, except our kid was the bad guy instead of the victim. And instead of refusing to bargain with the bad guy, we offered him anything he wanted. Toy trucks? Yours. Mickey Mouse pancakes every night for two weeks? Fire up the that god-awful Griddle. And instead of slamming the phone down and/or hanging up and laughing maniacally, he'd stay on his Fisher Price and pretend to talk to Grandma, then throw it down the stairs and laugh maniacally.

Our wits usually have no end, but they were appearing in plain view as we almost went Tony Hayward on each other. We got out the potty chart in an attempt to get our lives back. Nothing worked.

One day it clicked. Just as a routine visit to the dentist miraculously coaxed our co-sleeping 4-year-old into his own bed, a routine trip to the barber shop convinced our 2-year-old to stop soiling himself. As he was waiting his turn to sit in the chair, once again our star decided he had to go to the bathroom, except he never told anyone of his intentions, and so...

"Well, you can't get your hair cut with poopy pants," his rankled mother told him as she carried the boy, quite literally kicking and undoubtedly screaming, out of the barber shop, his hair still shaggy and unruly.

Trucks be damned. Pancakes be damned. All the kid wanted was a haircut, and when he didn't get one because of a bad set of underpants, he realized he needed to change course, soon, before his bangs covered his eyes.

So he went home and immediately sat on the toilet. But this is a tale of perseverance; the happy ending does not come quickly. He had just done the deed a few minutes earlier, so he sat and sat and pushed and crossed his eyes and turned that eggplant/deviled egg/magenta we were used to, and...nothing.


But the precedent had been set. The potty chart was out, and after filling up his chart with 10 stickers roughly 10 days later, he had his trucks from the top of the fridge and clean underwear on his bottom. And we had our lives back.

To be sure, sometimes it's still a struggle...when he announces he has to poop, he's moved up the deadline from 5 seconds too late to 5 seconds early. So there's no "hold on, buddy...right after I send out this email/I finish this page/this play/etc." "I need to poop" means "I need to poop. Now." And there have been accidents, but mostly when he's been "helping" with the dishes and forgets what he's doing.

So the top of the fridge is back to old mail and wallets. For us it's on to a new phase of frivolous spending...tell us, oh parents whose kids are out of diapers, what will we spend our money on next?

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