Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Was Potty Training Really Such a Great Idea?

Our toddler, like most, is a pro at stalling at bedtime. She's never been a good sleeper (see any post labeled "Sleep"), so we've really struggled with maintaining a good routine. The last year and a half were tough because we finally got it under control, had a couple of blissful months, then we sold our house and temporarily moved in with my in-laws, and we had to start over. Then we moved to our new house, so we had to start over. Then Baby R arrived, and again, we had to start over. Then she was potty trained and started to stay dry at night about two months ago, so we switched from Pull-ups to underwear. Though she averages a night or two a week with an accident, she's still dry significantly more often than she's wet, so I hesitated to return to Pull-ups. So now there's a new element to the bedtime stall - the need to potty. So, you guessed it, we need to start over.

The problem is, I'm just not sure how to go about it. Our usual process in the evening is this: bath (every other night), brush teeth, go potty, read two stories, then lights out. She has soft music we play at night, usually Enya or something, so we snuggle with her for two songs and then go. There are those who may say the routine is too long, but she has a really hard time settling down at night and turning her mind off. She go-go-goes all day long and then finally slows down and starts thinking about things that caught her attention that she didn't have time for earlier. Anyway, inevitably, after we've started to read or snuggle, she'll suddenly need to potty. Even though she just went no more than ten minutes ago. At first you think, well, maybe she really does have to go. She's still learning to listen to her body. Then after a few weeks, you tell her no, you already went, and then after much discussion and witnessing her doing the potty dance you've come to recognize, you relent, and to your surprise, she had to go more than she did earlier.

There were a few nights when she was sick when I put her in a Pull-up because I didn't want her to worry about wetting the bed (she's very disappointed in herself when she does, even though I tell her it's not a big deal). Since then, she'll occasionally ask to wear one. Or if I am unable to keep up on the laundry, I'll ask her to wear one just in case. More often than not she wakes up dry. But there are nights when she puts on a Pull-up, we go through the bedtime routine, no secondary mention is made of the potty, and then five minutes after we've said our goodnights and I'm downstairs doing dishes/laundry/tidying/making baby food, etc., I hear over the baby monitor the all too familiar singsong, "Mama! Maaaaa-maaaa! Mama Jeffff-er!" (Sidenote: I have no idea why our almost 3-year-old refers to me as "Mama Jennifer" when calling for me from bed. It's the only time she calls me by my first name.) I go upstairs to address whatever issue has presented itself (needing a drink, a tissue, a stuffed animal that has fallen off the bed) and come to find out she has a wet diaper. I will gently remind her (ok sometimes less than gently) that if she needs to go potty, she can just go or ask me to come help her, and I will, she doesn't need to go in the Pull-up.

The one consolation is knowing that in time, we'll get this ironed out, and can hopefully keep on track going forward. In the meantime, I try to avoid getting frustrated and see the humor in the moment. Like with the thing that's been throwing a wrench into the bedtime routine with respect to bathroom issues this past week is that her BM schedule has been happening around then. It used to be late afternoon, but has shifted in time a bit. So now most of the time she's in bed and then says she needs to go again, she really does, which does nothing to help eliminate the stall tactic. A few nights ago, Mama Jeffer was summoned, and I took her to the bathroom and had the following conversation as she was sitting on the throne:

S: Mama, I have to go poopie.

Me: Ok, honey.

S (scrunching up her face): And I need to grump. Sometimes you hafta grump to get the poopie out.

Me: Gru - oh, grunt? Well, yes, sometimes you do, but don't try to force it. If you can't go now, you can try again later.

S: No, I need to go now, I just have to grump. It's a big, big poopie. A MONSTER poopie. (Thank you, DH, for introducing her to the idea of monster poopie.)

Me: Ok, just be careful.

S: I ate my supper, and then it went into my tummy and down to my feet, and now I have to poopie.

Me: Yes, honey, that's right.

S: Mommy, why are we talking about poopie?

Me: I have no idea....

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