It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Potty Training, Day 3

Okay, so maybe Grace isn’t so much with the program as I thought…

Two accident-free days for Grace encouraged me to raise the bar a bit. We’d go a full half-hour between mandatory pee breaks. Since that might be just a smidge longer than she can actually go, it will give her an opportunity to take herself to the potty. (Because, as you recall, one of my concerns is that Grace’s extreme passivity will have her relying too much on reminders. AUTONOMY is what we’re after here!)

AND, as a reward for being such a BIG GIRL, she would wear the panties her mother had sent.

Because we all know how HIGHLY MOTIVATING Big Girls Panties are!!!

Well, maybe. They love to wear them. Does that prevent them from letting fly while wearing them? Do they hesitate in the slightest to gross them up? Um, no. Not so’s I’ve noticed. Still! Big girl panties are an important part of the process. And Grace’s mother sent a whole whack of big girl panties.

Day three was the day.

We make much of them. She shows them off to all her friends. (Side note: Is there anything cuter than a toddler hauling up on dress or shirt, rounded belly bulging, so that their friends can gather round and admire the underwear? Not much, I say. Hee.) She skips around the house, pausing at intervals to pull the hem of her skirt to her chin so she can take in the wonders of the panties.

And then she pees in them. Standing in the middle of the living room, not two feet from the potty. The potty which she does not even glance at as the pee splashes around her feet.

First accident in two days.

Well, boo.

But that’s okay! She has LOTS more big girl panties! And the next pair? It has BUTTERFLIES on it. That is even MORE EXCITING than the FLOWERS on the last pair. Whee!!!

And twenty minutes later, she poos on the butterflies.

Well, damn.

A third pair (teddybears) get soaked, not that I found that out right away. Jazz had just done a pee. We were all celebrating her accomplishment, and Jazz had been given her Smartie. Grace trots up, hand out for her Smartie.

“Well, no, lovie. Jazz gets a Smartie because she did a pee. You didn’t do a pee.”

“Yes, I did!”

“No, love, you didn’t. Jazz did.” I indicate the potty with its centimetre of pale yellow liquid. “Jazz had a pee, so Jazz gets a Smartie. When you do a pee, you will get one, too.”

“I did a pee!” She smiles and turns, pointing. “I did a pee onna couch!!!”

The couch? Yes, indeed. There on the couch is a dismayingly large dark splotch. She has indeed peed on the couch. Moreover, she is very proud. She peed on the couch, and she is proud. Seems Grace has decided that as long as the pee was conscious and volitional, THAT COUNTS FOR A SMARTIE! And her teddybear panties? Soaked. SOAKED.

Well, damn again. (In fact, “damn” isn’t nearly strong enough for this creative new twist in the proceedings, but that’s as strong as I get on this blog.) The hell with the Big Girl Panties. They are not helping us in our endeavor, that’s clear. Back to bare. And…

for the next two hours, Grace performs flawlessly. In the potty, every time.

Huh. So I put the panties back on, and…

she soaks ’em.

Yup. In Grace’s mind, panties = diapers. Nuts. That’s an annoying hiccup.

On the bright side, so long as she’s bare, she’s very reliable. Though I normally have them back in pants by the end of the first week, we’ll try another few days to consolidate things for Grace, see if that does the trick.

But… Smarties for peeing on the couch? Yeesh…

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Grace, potty tales | , , , , | 11 Comments

Just an accident!

Child A smashes into Child B. Tears and mayhem ensue. Adult intervenes and suggests that Child A owes Child B an apology.

“It was an accident!!” Child A declares.

“I know, honey. Next time, be more careful.”

This is not an unusual scenario. Have you seen it? Have you ever stopped to consider how wrong it is? Do you stop, stare, and scream (quietly to yourself)? I hope you do!

I spend so much time with small kids I see it a lot, and every time I see it, I sort of reel inside. What is that adult thinking?

Let’s extrapolate this reasoning a bit, shall we?

A nine-year-old spills paint all over a schoolmate’s science project. He doesn’t have to apologize, doesn’t have to offer to.. I don’t know… help colour in the graphs the friend will have to re-draw… because it was an accident?

Wait. I bet this happens all the time… Try again…

Your teenager’s Limewire habit has your computer crawling with viruses. He/she doesn’t have to spend the time to clean the computer… because the infestation wasn’t intentional?

Huh. I’ll bet this happens all the time, too. (Probably the kid in my first example six years later…)

Okay. How about this one? You knock down a pedestrian while driving. You don’t have to hire a lawyer/talk to a judge/pay a fine/do jail-time… because it was an accident? Yup. That’ll do. Because you know what? I’ll bet the judge and the victim don’t figure the fact that it was unintentional totally absolves you of accountability. It might mitigate the severity of the consequences, but there will still be consequences.

When you hear “It was an accident!!!” there are a couple of things to consider.

First, it’s entirely possible that the child may be LYING to you. Children are developmentally capable of lying sometime around the age of three and four. (You thought you just had one of the only delightfully honest two-and-a-half year olds on earth? Nope. They just haven’t figured out that YOU can believe something THEY know to be false. It’s a developmental thing. Don’t worry. In another year or so, your little sweetie can (and will) lie to you. Yes, it is disillusioning. Even after all these years of working with toddlers, I still feel a little crushed when I hear that first lie. I know it’s inevitable, but that loss of innocence still grieves me, just a bit.)

So there’s that. It could be … no, you know what? Given how often “It was an accident!!!” is used as a defense, it’s probably a lie. Statistically, I’m betting there just aren’t that many ‘accidents’, particularly if the child in question is over six or seven years old, and even more particularly if “It was an accident!!” has gotten them off the hook in the past.


Even if it’s true, though, even if it genuinely was an accident… um… so what? When a child tells me that “It was an accident!!!!” I generally respond with, “Well, goodness, I sure hope so! I wouldn’t like to think you’d do that on purpose!


I then point out that, accident or not, Child B is hurt and some reparation — an apology and/or a hug and/or some other nice deed — is required. The point is that, intended or not, your action had a consequence and you have some responsibility to deal with that consequence. The fact that it was accidental does not absolve you of accountability any more than it eliminates the other’s pain/embarrassment/whatever.

“I know it was an accident, but Grace is still hurt. You need to say sorry and give her a hug.”

So they say sorry, they give the hug…

And then we get on with our day.

June 2, 2011 Posted by | aggression, manners | , , | 9 Comments