It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It was a moist day at Mary’s

Baby Josh reels by. He’s still not walking anything like steadily, that boy. The girls knock him over just by passing too quickly. They don’t even have to pass close, just whip by fast on the other side of the room. Maybe it has more to do with him looking one way — at the racing children — while attempting to continue in a different direction. Or maybe it’s just vagrant thoughts, neurons colliding in his wee head, which are knocking him over. The boy is unsteady, I’m saying.

He’s also, at this moment, foul. There’s a thick green cloud of toxic sludge wafting from his butt end, I’m sure. So nasty in the air you can practically taste it. Gah.

When I lay him down on the floor — all diaper changes happen on my hardwood floor, easy to access, easy to clean — I discover the foulness has escaped the confines of the diaper. Out the legs, up the back pretty much to his armpits. It’s gross, and it’s everywhere. Really, he needs a bath, but that’s very hard to do with four other children toodling around.

(And if you think I could just bring us all up to the bathroom, you have not been around long enough to have heard me note how very small my home is. There is not room, and I do mean that quite literally — there is not sufficient floor space in my bathroom — for four toddlers and an adult.)

So, no bath for Josh. Just diaper wipes. Lots and lots and lots of diaper wipes. Well over a dozen. Five for the butt. Three for the stomach. Six for the back. Oh! One for his left armpit. So charming. They just keep piling up on top of the diaper that lies on the floor beside me, off-gassing toxic fumes into my home.

If you’ve been around for long enough, you also know that Grace and Jazz are poo-vultures. The are drawn to the stuff, in an utterly morbid (and revolting) way. Usually I shoo them away before I begin with a poopy diaper, but for some reason, this time I didn’t. So there they are, peering in and chatting about it between themselves.

“Josh has a big poo!”
“Does Josh have a big poo, Mary?” (This, I ignore.)
“Look! He has poo in his bellybutton!”
“Oh, no! He stuck his foot in the poo, and now his sock gots poo on it!”

Yes, indeed. Rivetting stuff, poo. The fascination never ends. In fact, the fascination of Josh’s shit-smeared body became so engrossing for Grace that she managed to sit in the growing pile of excremented diaper wipes on top of the poo-filled diaper.

“GRACE! Don’t move!” Because there’s nothing I can do about it right now, is there? I have Toxic Boy in front of me, and if I let go, he will immediately make his speedy and shit-strewing way across my home. Immediately.

Grace, however, is capable of sitting stock-still for a couple of minutes. Bless her heart. Not so blessed is the smear of poo on the side of her tights. Urgh.

Josh de-toxified, I turn my attention to Grace. We peel the tights off, thankfully the only item of clothing befouled, and as I lift them away, she pauses, her face twitches, and she sneezes. Directly onto my shirt. A fully loaded sneeze. Yellow snot adorns the black wool.


And if I’d had time to write this post yesterday, that would be where it ended. You’d think that was enough, no? Poo in glorious abundance, with a chaser of snot? I’d say that was enough.

The Fates disagreed.

Later that same day:

Baby Josh discovers the potty. (Poppy is being potty-trained; more on that another day.) There is not much in the potty. With two dogs, three toddlers and couple of 14-month-old babies in the house, I’m careful about these things. But the last pee has not been dispensed with yet.

The last pee was, thank GOODNESS, a small one. (Most of them are. Poppy very quickly registered that if you dispense your pee in many small increments, you get MORE SMARTIES!!!) THANK GOODNESS, I say, because Josh has not only discovered the potty, which he has never really noticed before, but he discovered that “HEY! This inside part LIFTS RIGHT OUT!” Whee!

So he whips out the pee-laced bowl and waves it about a bit. With predictable results. Waves it and, because he’s sitting right there, his kicking feet smear the small puddle around a bit. It is my sudden dart across the room that catches Jazz’s attention, and I’m sure that’s why she had to run in the same direction. Only, starting from a different angle, and a little closer, she got there first.

And soaked one foot of her tights. Happily, Jazz does not have a cold. So I managed to change her without getting further besmirched.

Pee, poo, and snot. All over bodies, all over clothing, all over my living room floor. Guess I should be grateful no one added vomit to the day, huh?

December 4, 2012 Posted by | eeewww, Grace, Jazz, Joshua, potty tales, the dark side | , , | 9 Comments

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

Potty Adventures, Day Two

I have two potties, but thus far have only used one. On Monday, Jazz spent most of her day sleeping; on Tuesday, Rory wasn’t here. Two kids can share one potty.

This is not laziness on my part. I can carry two pots up the stairs as easily as one. No, the thing is, I have a puppy. A seven-month-old puppy, who is VERY INTERESTED in this whole potty-training endeavor.

Very interested in bare butts. (Oh, ugh.)
Very interested in pee on the floor. (Whee!)
And very, very interested in potties. Even nicely rinsed potties still smell heavenly-divine to a seven-month-old puppy. A seven-month-old irrepressible puppy. (Actually I think that phrase is a redundancy. All seven-month-old puppies are irrepressible.)

Daisy! Away from the potty! Away!

Daisy! No!

Daisy! Leave that thing alone!

Daisy! Get your nose out of there!

“Daisy!” [Calling over my shoulder to my own two kids, chatting in the kitchen, as I fend Daisy off with one hand while trying to help Grace sit properly] “Will someone please crate this animal?”

ONE of my potties, see, has a lid. The other does not. So one potty is Daisy resistant, while the other is a veritable smorgasbord of all manner of YUMMY, YUMMY scents and savories.


We are using the potty with the lid. Ahem.

And yesterday, on day two, Jazz was rested and ready to potty. She was interested in the potty, but she was INTO the Smarties. Fervently. Rory and Grace hadn’t thought of it, but Jazz instantly realized that if she gets a Smartie every time she plops her butt on the potty… well, she’ll just do that, won’t she? All. Day. Long!!!

I’ve been using a timer so I don’t lose track of how long those little pee-bombs have been darting around my home. Originally it was set to 20 minutes, but the girls were doing so very well, I moved it to 25 minutes mid-morning. After a three-minute stretch in which Jazz “earned” herself four Smarties, I decided she could ONLY go when the timer beeped.

Because, yeah, I bought the big bag, but she’d have consumed the thing single-handedly before lunch at that rate… Moreover, she’d managed to squeeze out a driplet of pee each time, so I figure the girl has plenty of control. If she can force it out, she can hold it in.

That’s the theory, anyway.

“When the timer beeps, you can try. You wait for the timer now.” Well, poo. You know how historical novels often have their young heroines “flounce” when unhappy about something? I had a mental picture of what that must be, but I’d never seen anyone really flounce before.

Jazz flounces.

Upon being told she would have to WAIT for the next Smartie Opportunity, Jazz flounced off to the craft set out on the dining table. And when that timer beeped?

As it happend, Grace was closer to the potty, so Grace was setting herself down when Jazz came roaring up, SMARTIES on the brain. Grace is a slow-mover. She eats slowly, she dawdles when she walks, she talks slowly. Grace does nothing quickly. So in the time it takes Jazz to slip down from the chair in the dining room and bomb across to the potty in the living room, Grace has almost, but not quite, settled her butt on the potty.

Jazz flies into the room, and performs a very creditable body check, causing Grace to sit, not on the potty, but on the floor beside the potty.

Nice try, little Ms. Enthusiasm. But you can wait.

We resettle Grace on the potty. Grace pees. Jazz claps and cheers. Jazz sits. And produces a sizeable poo. Grace looks stunned. I think it honestly hadn’t occurred to her THAT was a possibility.

Lessons learned all round then. And we do the potty dance again, cheering and clapping for the steaming pile.

And then, before Daisy succeeds in her efforts to get up close and very personal with the S.P., I whisk the potty upstairs for a thorough cleaning.

At the end of today:

There were no accidents at all.
Grace is still on track for training.
Jazz is probably going to get there even sooner.
Daisy has not ONCE managed to get her nose in a pile of… anything.

I’d call that a success.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, potty tales | , , , | 9 Comments

Potty Adventures, Day One

Materials: three toddlers, one potty, a timer, a big-ass bag o’Smarties, and a jug of apple juice.

Method: Sit bare-bottomed toddlers on potty, reward with Smarties, then refill toddlers with watered-down apple juice. Repeat every 20 minutes.


At the end of day one, my evaluation would be that:

— Grace is most likely to be trained — fully trained, able to get herself to the potty on her own without any adult intervention or encouragement — within a week or two.
— Rory appears not to have one single clue about what we’re after
— Jazz arrived so seriously sleep-deprived after two weeks’ holiday that she mostly slept, so I have no assessment of her to offer


It’s early days.

Grace is a very passive little mite. She might continue to need reminders for … months, frankly, though I’d certainly rather not. But it’s well within her character.

Rory might yet get it. That Big Dramatic Pee he had while seated at the dining table yesterday, pee rolling across his chair, soaking his thighs and splashing to the floor might be the event that puts it together for him.

“Oh, THAT’s what it means when I feel this…”

I’m hoping. I might be woefully naive, but that’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see if the penny drops today.

And Jazz. Well, she slept FOUR AND A HALF HOURS yesterday, so perhaps she will be more awake and able to participate today. (Two and a half in the morning, two in the afternoon. This from a child who hasn’t napped in the morning for over a year. When I said “seriously sleep-deprived”, I wasn’t exaggerating. But she looked a whole lot less paler and trembly when she went home than when she arrived, so that’s good.)

Rory and Grace were very interested in the potty. And they were VERY interested in the Smarties. Rory was a little uncertain about the bare-bottom-edness, but made the adjustment without fuss, and then appeared to forget about it… except for his happy discovery that going pants-free makes it REALLY CONVENIENT to play with his bits.


“Rory. You’re not going bottom-less so you can play with yourself all day. Let that thing go.” (Wholly predictable, of course. Boys and their toys. What can you do?)

They had three hours in the morning between arrival and lunch. Three hours (180 minutes)/20 minutes = 9 potty opportunities. (Equals nine Smarties!!! Times (mostly) two children = 18. Plus the one I took each time, bringing it up to 27. Hey, I need fortification, too!)

Good thing I bought the big bag…

At the end of all that, Rory had peed in the potty precisely … not one time. Though when I asked, “So, did you pee?” He would cheerfully say, “Yes!” And then we would all peer into the EMPTY potty.

“Um, no, sweetie, you didn’t. There’s no pee in there.”


Rory’s capacity is prodigious, and his ability to hold it admirable. He sat on that potty three times an hour all morning, and it was not until we sat at the table for lunch that the floodgates opened. It was the noise that alerted me. The Niagara Falls of pee rolling off his chair and onto the floor.


As I swing him by his armpits from the dining chair to the potty, I chirp out cheerfully, “Pee goes in the POTTY, Rory. When you need to pee, you run sit on the potty!!” And he sits, and of course nothing happens, because it’s all splashed over the chair and the floor. (Yes, still. You didn’t think I stopped to clean it up before putting him on the potty? Ha. The point is the POTTY. The pee will be there in two more minutes. Unless, of course, Daisy gets at it first. In which case, NOT MY PROBLEM. Ha!)

And Grace?

“Did you do a pee, Grace?”
“No. I dih-yunt.”

And she knew this WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING!!! Rory could look into the EMPTY potty, and be sure — SURE! — that he had indeed peed. So, one point for Grace.

Two or three times later.

“I did a pee!”
And she did! And not just a whisper, a drizzle, a driplet of liquid, but a real, decent, full-bladdered pee. Which means she can hold it. Yay!

Grace produced two good-sized pees yesterday morning. No accidents. No false claims of production. Grace, it would seem, knows what it feels like to have a full bladder, knows how to hold it till she gets that far, knows to release it into the potty, and knows when she has or hasn’t done so.


But Rory is not out of the game yet. He’s still interested, he’s still game to try. So game that, unlike Grace, he will sit on the potty without being told. Which I guess means that he sat MORE than 18 times… and still didn’t manage a single pee in the confines of the pot. Initiative, 1; Efficacy, 0. You win some, you lose some.

I first discovered his initiative on my way downstairs from having tipped Grace’s pee into the toilet. Tipped the pee, rinsed the pot, trip lightly down the stairs, round the corner into the livingroom, and there is Rory, SITTING ON THE POT-FREE POTTY.

We have all experience the Universe’s wry sense of humour. What are the odds that THIS would be the time Rory managed to actually PEE IN THE POTTY? Pretty great, I figured. If it’s going to happen, NOW would be the time. Just so the universe can snigger at me.

“AGH! Rory! Off the potty!”

Sober second thought suggested that I shouldn’t have reacted with quite so much fervor. Way to go, Mary. Make the boy REALLY TENSE when he sits on that thing… if he’ll sit at all. Bah.

“It’s okay, Rory, you were just trying to pee! I’m sorry I shouted. I was just surprised. It’s good to pee! Only we need to make sure this bowl is in there, so the pee doesn’t spill on the floor. See?”

I smile winningly. Please don’t be traumatized. Please, please, please…

He stands, somberly staring. Rory has a very practiced sombre stare. He stands, watches me slide the pot into the chair

please, please, please

watches me slide the pot into the chair, and sits back down again.

I think I heard some angels sing. Or at least hum a little.

“I can have a Smartie now, Mary?”

Ah. Smarties. No matter what trauma the day may bring, Smarties make it all better.

Pass that bag, would you?

October 4, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, potty tales, Rory | , , , | 5 Comments

The boy needs a memory aid

Tyler is still not 100% potty-trained. In fact, given his withholding of bowel movements and our increasing worries about the possibility of him developing encopresis, we’ve put him in Pull-Ups and backed right off the entire issue. He’ll get there sooner or later — peer pressure will do it when adult expectations won’t — and we don’t have to worry about him permanently damaging himself.

At first, he regressed entirely to the diaper. More recently, though he still refuses to do a bowel movement anywhere but in a diaper or pull-up, he has been keeping himself dry, doing all his pees in a potty. We’re calling it progress.

And even more recently, he has become very particular about the placement of the boy bits post-pee. I am usually there to help lift the pull-up onto his hips. You’d think this would do the trick, but no. He must plunge his hand in there and rearrange things. “My penis is pointing up!” Rummage, rummage, rummage…

Yes, well, whatever. He’s not indulging in lengthy sessions of fondling re-arranging, so I’m pretty sure this is nothing more than him being persnickety. Heck, what do I know? I don’t have one. Maybe it really does require this sort of careful adjustment.

Anyway. The children have been industriously building enormous and complicated Duplo creations in the kitchen for most of the morning. When lunch is ready, they are called to the table. The littles go in high chairs pulled right to the table, the bigs sit in regular chairs.

Tyler sits in his chair, then gets up onto his knees and leans into the table.

“Sit on your bottom, Tyler. We’re eating.”

Wiggly children lead to dining table spills. Children have far less wiggle room when they’re firmly seated. Tyler knows that he’s expected to keep his bottom in his chair. He sits.

And then he’s up again.

“Tyler. If you want your lunch, you need to sit. Bottom on the chair, please.”

He sits. Winces. And he’s up.

Winces? “Tyler, is it hurting to sit?”

“Yes.” Huh. We determine that no, he does not need to poo. Nor has he pooed recently. He doesn’t have a cut or a rash or a sunburn. Now, Tyler is three and a half. We are determining this through question and answer. Clearly, though, I need to investigate.

“Hop down, lovey. Let’s check that Pull-Up.”

A startled look crosses his face, and he suddenly stands on his chair and plunges his hand well past his belt buckle, down into the depths. From whence he pulls a duplo block. A hard plastic thing with eight pointy corners. Which had evidently been nestling right under the family jewels. No wonder it hurt to sit.

“Good heavens, Tyler! What on earth was that doing in there?”

“I think when I peed and I fixed my penis, I forgot I had a block in my hand.”

And you just left it there? And didn’t notice? For, oh, two hours?

Boy has balls of steel. Clearly. Balls of steel.

June 24, 2011 Posted by | eeewww, potty tales, Tyler | , , , , | 9 Comments

Oh, the (disgusting) irony…

Tyler is pretty much potty-trained. He knows when he needs to go, he can get himself to the potty on time. He can get his pants down and back up again. He needs help with the clean-up, but all in all he’s independent.


He’s a ‘withholder’. He doesn’t like to poo. He holds it for as long as humanly possible. Correction: he holds it far longer than should be humanly possible. This is more than just an oddity. This is worrisome. Holding out for that long can make a body sick. It will certainly cause constipation. How Tyler has evaded that thus far is one of life’s little mysteries, but if he keeps it up, it’ll be inevitable.

He never poos during the day at my home. This is not all that unusual. It often happens that a child’s typical poop time occurs when they’re at home — first thing in the morning, or right after dinner, say. That’s called being ‘regular’. 🙂

Tyler is not ‘regular’. He’ll hold out and hold out and hold out. Then, on the third or fourth or fifth day, he seems to reach a point where he just can’t quite hold it any more. He’ll release a bit into his underwear. They’ll clean him up and change him. Fifteen minutes, half an hour later, he’ll do it again. When he’s put on the potty, nothing happens. Put him back in underwear, and, half an hour later, another dollop in his pants.

Not that this ever happens at my home. In fact, I had no idea this was happening until his mother called me one evening. She is at the end of her rope.

“Calm and unemotional. We’re tying to be calm and unemotional… and we just can’t do it any more! The underwear! I’ve bought ten new pairs of underwear, and it’s still not enough!”

My input, in our lengthy conversation, was that at this point I saw us as having two ways to go: cold turkey, which means they take away his night-time diaper, and we push his liquid and fibre intake (bring on the prune juice!). Yes, there will probably be more laundry, in the form of bedding as well as ALL THOSE UNDERWEAR for a few days. But we’ll try it for a week or ten days and see if we can push this past the tipping point. That’s one way.

Or, we could go in the complete other direction, and put the boy back in diapers for two or three months, let everyone calm down and get over what is obviously becoming traumatic, before trying again.

I really had no strong preference. I think either way could work. I’m worried, though, knowing that the longer this continues, the greater the likelihood that he’ll become seriously constipated. Then having a poo will hurt — which will only increase his aversion to having a bowel movement. And then we’ll really be entrenched in a vicious circle! So whichever way we go, we need to make a decision and get it done.

Mom did NOT want to go back to diapers. Her much-beloved son is driving her CRAZY!!! Eight, ten, twelve pair of underwear a couple of days a week would do that to a woman. Okay, then. Cold turkey it is.

We agree to really push the fluids. Anything the boy will drink, the boy can have. Fruit juice? Here you go! Nuclear green kool-aid? Bring it on! Lots of fibre, in any form he’ll take it. Dried apricots, raisins, grapes, peas… I suggested we institute a potty regimen, with a set time for pooping each day. The first will be about 24 hours after his last poo, and then we’ll stick with that time. We won’t ask if he needs to go, we’ll just tell him it’s time to poo. See if we can get the boy regulated.

Friday was Day One of Tyler’s new potty regimen. At the end of the day, I had both good and bad news.

1. The good news: Tyler had a very large poo on the potty shortly after noon!!! It’s an astonishment to me that one small boy could possibly hold so much ordure. But it was enormous and it was soft. Yay! Still (miraculously) no constipation!!

It wasn’t a struggle at all. A simple directive: “Time to sit on the potty and have that poo, Tyler.” See, he’d been complaining that his belly hurt, and, given that it had been three days since his last BM, I was sure I knew what that was all about.

“Your belly hurts, sweetie, because there’s a poo in there that needs to come out. You go sit on the potty and wait for it. It might take a while, but it needs to come out. When it does, you will feel so much better!”

So he went, and he sat down, and he waited. And he waited. And he waited. I gave him a few books, and a soft toy, but I largely ignored him. I’m suspecting part of this is power struggle and/or attention-seeking, so, while being cheerful, positive, and supportive, I am also leaving him to do the work on his own. I checked in at intervals.

“Has that poo come out yet?”
“Well, what a silly poo!” [Mary leans down a bit and calls out in the general direction of Tyler’s belly-button.] “Hey, you poo in there! Get out of there! Time to come out and leave Tyler alone! Come on, lazy poo! Out you come!”
By now Tyler is giggling. I hand him another book and leave for another five minutes. (See? No pressure, just cheerful support. But also minimal attention. No sitting and reading to him for 25 minutes.)

And… 25 minutes later, an enormous, gigantic, gargantuan poo. I was afraid the top of the goopy pile would scrape off on the bottom of the potty seat when I removed the bowl, but we managed to escape that extra mess. It was a near thing, though.

“There! All done! Don’t you feel better??”

He didn’t. Apparently his belly still hurt. Pfft. I know this boy. If he thought it would lose him a point to agree, he’d argue black was white. Yes, he feels better. He’s just not going to admit it. So, having cleaned and watched him get back into his pants, upstairs I go, to dump the ten-pound potty into the toilet.

When I come downstairs a minute later…

2. the bad news…

He is throwing up. All over the place. ALL over the place. Astonishing quantities of stuff. Solids, liquids, in between, splattered all over the dining room floor. I arrive on the scene in the middle of the second heave. There are two more after that. My dining room floor is awash, and the stench is making my eyes water.


“Tyler. Sit down right where you are. Don’t move, okay? I have to get the babies out of the way.”

He plonks his butt down, blinking blearily. I scoop one, two, three babies, toss them into highchairs, and scatter Cheerios on their trays. I grab my bin of rags and swab the floor before turning my attention to Tyler.

And I strip the boy down. Because everything is saturated. His sweater and the shirt underneath it stick to his skin. The thighs of his jeans are spattered with chunks. His woolly slippers have absorbed enough of the puddle he was standing in that his socks are also damp.

In fact, the only item of his clothing that did NOT require changing? Well, take a guess: After days of many, many changes of pooped-in underwear per day, guess which was the ONLY item of clothing that did NOT need to be changed after the puke of the century?


(Afterword, because who wouldn’t be wondering about this: The puke and the poo were in no way related. He pooped — yay!!! He had a stomach bug that lasted the next 30 hours or so — boo!!! Total coincidence.)

February 28, 2011 Posted by | health and safety, potty tales, Tyler | , , | 12 Comments

They live in a simple world

“Tyler, you have to push your pants down over your bum. You can’t just push them down over your penis.”

Tyler stands in front of the potty, his thumbs looped into the waistband of his pants, each a couple centimetres off center, pushing down as hard as he can. While he’s managing to shove the waistband a few centimeters south in the front, his small bottom is firmly and intractably covered. He’s only been at it for a few seconds. I’m waiting to see if he can figure it out, but Emily has clearly run out of patience. Her voice is an entertaining combination of sage and exasperated.

Tyler is unconvinced. The flaw in her reasoning is so obvious. Really.

“But the pee comes out my penis.”

“Well, of course it does, Tyler, but what good does that do you if it’s still in your pants?”

Tyler redoubles his efforts. Emily sighs.

“Tyler! You have to move your hands around to your BUM! You will never get your pants down like that!”

Tyler retriples his efforts.

“TY-ler! You can’t get your penis out if your bum is still in. Honestly!” Big sister Emily strides over and hauls firmly down on the back of his pants. “There! You see?”

Tyler gazes down. “There is my penis!”

“I TOLD you and I TOLD you, but you didn’t listen. Now do you know, you silly goose?” Her voice is a bit hectoring, yes, but she’s also smiling.

“I push at the front and you push at the back, and I can get my penis out!”

You know, you take this conversation out of its current context, and it rapidly becomes X-rated. That happens around here…

They both watch with satisfaction as Tyler completes the task at hand.

“Thank you, Emily. You is my helping sister.”

“You’re welcome, Tyler. But next time I don’t want to push your bum anymore, okay?”

“Oh, okay.”

I’m not sure that conversations like this aren’t one of the top five things that keep me in this job…

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Emily, potty tales, Tyler | , , | 2 Comments

I was wrong

Ha! Not very often you see me say that. At least, not about toddlers. You might even want to write it on your calendars. In other areas of my life, I’m much more self-deprecating… but you guys don’t see those bits. Here on the blog, I am a bastion of self-confidence. (Bet you just want to smack me some days, huh?)

But when it came to Noah and the potty, I was wrong. I was dubious that he was ready to train. His parents were ready, no doubt, cute little over-achievers that they are.

(They ARE! The cutest damned pair you’d ever want to see. She’s slim as a willow twig and has these enormous gray eyes, and a confident yet soft-spoken demeanor. He matches her body type in a masculine way, and he’s got the greatest grin, which generally accompanies the most engagiing laugh. And together? They’re adorable. I love this couple to bits. Every time I see them I fight the urge to squeeze their cheeks and coo “You’re just so cuuuute!” Much as I do to their son, except with him I don’t fight it. Seems I am now of an age now where I’m beginning to get maternal about the parents, at least the younger ones…)

But anyway. They said Noah was ready. I was dubious. He may have been ready physically, but I didn’t think he was there mentally at all. I’d seen no signs of that whatsoever. No talking about his functions, nor even any particular awareness of it happening, no complaining when he was wet or soiled — though if you asked him if he had a poo in the diaper, he generally knew — no response when I brought out the potty. Oddly enough, there’d been a glimmer of readiness some months prior, but since then, nothing. Nothing. So me, I thought the impetus was entirely theirs. This was mom and dad’s idea, mom and dad’s energy was driving this thing.

And when that’s the case? It can go bad in a big way. Power struggles that go on for months. Constant accidents. Children who hide in closets to have their poo. Crying, screaming, tantrums, stomping of feet and tearing of hair. Sometimes the child does that, too.

But not with Noah.

Now, I still may have been right that the energy for this project originated with mom and dad, not Noah, but they lucked out. Not only is Noah a smart little guy, but he’s also gentle and cooperative. He was a bit bemused at first, but he never got contrary, never dug in his wee heels. And he TOTALLY bought into the whole Smarties schtick!

So, no Big Bad Ugly.

He just… learned to use the potty. In two weeks. (Which is how long it takes, if they’re ready. Maybe three.)

He still needs a diaper for sleeping, but during the day he’s clean and dry, with very few accidents (two in a month) — and no more Smarties, even.

So, there you have it. Once in a while, Mary calls it wrong.

But not very damned often.


November 30, 2009 Posted by | Noah, parents, potty tales | , , | 6 Comments

All pooped out

smartiesLittle Noah is totally potty trained, and the thing that tipped the scales for us was not the infamous pee-bottle, but Smarties.

Yup. Good old chocolate-y motivator in a candy-coated package. Noah was told he would get one for a pee, and two for a poo. Suddenly, using the potty was very, very interesting!!

After a week of success, Noah was told that he would only get Smarties for poops. No more Smarties for pees.

He took it well, really. Because really, this would cut his Smartie intake by about 90%. A toddler with the will to pee can drink a LOT of water, and make many, many, many pees in day. But poo? Well, there’s only so much a body can poo.

Or so you’d think.

“I haffa poo, Mary!”
“Away you go to the potty, then.”

And yes, there in the bowl is a decent little arc.

“Good man!”
“I get Smarties now?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Not when a pee?”
“No, no Smarties for a pee. Just for poo.”
“Tank you.”

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“You do? You already did one this morning, but if you have to go, away you go.”

There is substantially more wait time and effort for this one, but, after a minute or so, there in the potty lies another reeking rainbow. Smaller than the last one of only an hour before, but definitely a poo. Wonder what he had for dinner last night?

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“Again? Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh. I got to poo.”
“All right, little man. Do your best.”

He sits. And he waits. And he sits. His face is an intensity of concentration, stern and fixed. He waits some more…

“Mary! I did a poo!”
THIS I have to see.

And there, in the bowl… a smidge, a dot, an iota of shit.

He has managed to squeeze out, by sheerest force of toddler will, the requisite excrement.

Smarties are one helluva motivator, I tell you.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Noah, potty tales | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Notes re: potty training

grumpyWhen you think your child is ready to be potty trained, there are a few things to consider.

1. It is good to consult with your caregiver first. You are not seeking her permission of course, but it is only polite to at least give her a heads-up that it’s in the air.

2. Moreover, it is wise to realize that she probably has insight and perspective that could be valuable. It may come as a surprise, but she is not uninformed in these matters.

So, the thing NOT to do is show up on Monday morning with a toddler in underpants, a bag containing three changes of clothes, and no diapers. Because, you know, that’s just sorta presumptuous.

3. When embarking on potty training, consider the logistics of daycare. Your child probably does truly deight in peeing in the bottle you hold in front of him. Could you be doing that with four other tots in the room? Well, then.

4. Logistics, part two: When a child is potty training, pants should be loose and very easily pulled up and down. Track pants are excellent — without underpants, even better. Cute little jeans without elastic waists? Bad idea. Cute little elastic-free jeans held up by a BELT? Bad, bad idea. And if the belt is stiff, requires two (adult) hands, and the pants CANNOT be pulled down without undoing said unco-operative belt?

Your kid will be in diapers that day. Count on it.


October 16, 2009 Posted by | manners, parents, Peeve me, potty tales | , , , , | 14 Comments