I know that I should have reported on progress with this earlier, but my silence in this case means that there were no more incidents. I can safely say that Robert was potty trained by the time he turned 32 months. One more milestone completed.
I am sure that given time I will revise this opinion, but so far potty training has been THE most difficult parenting task I had with Robbie.
First of all it was very hard to convince him to sit on the potty or do without his nappy. Second it is near impossible to get him to understand that No.2 belongs in the potty and not in the nappy, or underpants or on the couch and flo0r for that matter.
I tried various strategies, from bribery and cajolery to brute force persuasion – the latter resulted in the both of us spending a whole afternoon “stuck” in the bathroom, because we were only allowed to get out once the potty is used successfully.
Initially I tried to put him in underpants : He thought the underpants were a good substitute for a nappy and used them as such.
I tried bare bum – and I am still doing it, which resulted in the accidents I mentioned earlier on the floor and the sofa.
In the evening I used to put his sleep nappy after a bath and just before I tucked him in, but he quickly learned to time his poo for this, and sometimes filled the nappy from the horizontal position, which is a great feat in my opinion for someone who claims that doing it on the potty is “hard”.
Meanwhile the tricks of rewards have done very little to convince him: So far my child has done without chocolate, and his beloved radio, and he still hasn’t graced the potty with a substantial product – He did not have any bowel movement for the last 48 hours and I finally resorted to a mild laxative. Hopefully I will not regret this.
What is finally working for No1 is a potty toy. A small musical wind-up box that plays a German song : Hänschen Klein. It has accompanying colorful cards, which contain a few dozen of other songs, most of which are familiar to him from the German tapes and CDs he loves. At least this worked magic for the appeal of sitting on the potty to make a wee. At the creche he also has no problems or accidents and they have their own methods of convincing the children to do what they are supposed to. Also the peer pressure (or should I say pee-er pressure) of other potty-goers probably helps. But we are still waiting for the other monumental achievement, of actually making a poo on the potty.
So exasperated I was from all of this that I actually promised my boy to tell the stories of potty-training failures one day to his girlfriend, to which he replied smugly : “Gina is my go-fend”, so it seems like I missed that one.
Another little thing he told me today while arranging his table and chair to resemble a huge speaker (have no idea how he saw they did) – he said: This is “fuss-tate-ing” – I am sure he picked it up from my up-beat vocabulary during this experience.
PS : I was interrupted while writing this by another accident of major proportions on the floor. All I can say is thank god I have no carpets in my flat. And the battle continues, this is now week three.
Yesterday was officially the first day of Easter Holiday for Robert. The creche has holiday care for about one week of the school holiday and remains closed for a week after Easter, but this time I opted for him to stay home with me because I wanted to finish his potty training.
I think I underestimated the task, and my confidence was boosted by minor successes at introducing the potty and keeping Robert’s underpants dry of pee. It is, however the big stuff that I am battling with. Robert insists on making a poo in his nappy/pants. There was even the memorable episode on Sunday when he stubbornly sat in the buggy, soiled pants and all for over half an hour.
This setback demotivated me and made me question my method. I am ashamed to admit that I even started to taste some resentment against my son. Somehow his aloofness and refusal to communicate on the matter of using the toilet brought back memories of his father, and the way he used to behave. I had nightmare scenarios in my mind of the son I love beyond reason turning into a carbon copy of his father. The prospect made me want to scream, run away, hide and even give Robert up to his father – Thankfully these black thoughts did not persist.
The whole situation may seem comical now, but I was definitely on the verge of depression, and I always teeter on the brink of it with the onset of PMS. So for all of yesterday I was battling these emotions of resentment, depression and anxiety. I think my son reacted to my unbalanced state and added his own mix of naughtiness and mischief. Yesterday marked several disasters on the home front: One liter of yogurt spilled all over the table and floor; One of my two Yucca plants completely denuded of leaves and the other missing half of them; and floor tiles lifted in one section of the lounge. That, in addition to the normal set light to medium misbehavior, such as throwing toys and screeching tantrums, all of which did not contribute to enhancing my mothering instinct but made me rather more inclined to fight and/or flee this little terror.
Today things look much better. The battle for the potty has been removed to a lower priority and with the pressure off I think I will have better success. Robert is sleeping peacefully like an angel, and my feelings for him are back to normal. It is all a matter of attitude.
Apart from taking a step back and de-emphasizing the problem issue, here are some of the things that made the difference for me today: Venting off to my parents on Skype, fixing the chairs that Robert broke ages ago, and good old comfort food of Macaroni and cheese for lunch, finishing off with a cup of chococcino in the evening.
A friend of mine told me today that the difference between a good day and a bad day are only a bunch of chemicals in the brain, and I bet these small doses of comfort fixed the imbalance in my brain – You are absolutely right G !
I will remember this phase in Robert’s life most as the phase of developing conversation. He is now at the stage where he watches people and things and gives running commentary about what he sees.
The other day I was walking with him at the beach front and one of the information billboards was about seals and how they can be strangled by fishing ropes or even plastic bags if they get stuck in them, since they have no arms to release themselves. I was amazed that he explained it to me by saying : rope hurtin’ seal… I think that his dad showed it to him before. It doesn’t take long for him to register information and new vocabulary. After a brief introduction to pitta and Humus he now regularly asks for : pitta bread (bed) with Humus or pitta with avocado. He also learned the word “cucumber” in one afternoon after filling up on it at his dad’s place.
At night he gives me a run down on his day, or remembers past events. Last night after he mentioned his teachers and his friends in class, he said suddenly : Noma .. gone. Noma is his teacher from last November who left without notice at the beginning of this year. I think his memory and power of observation in already better than mine. He knows exactly where to find certain signs on our daily walk from the taxi stop to the house, and he points without fail the gate behind which the “doggy dog” is to be found.
It is very hard to fool him as well. While he was sick last week I tried to give him effervescent cough tablets by adding them to his juice. I thought the taste of the juice would mask the medicine, but he always detected it at the very first sip, and gave me back the sippy cup with the single comment : medimed, so there was no cough medicine for him. Yesterday he made me laugh when for some reason he flashed back to these incidents as he was enjoying a drink from his sippy cup, and he said : no medimed !
Another amusing behavior he started this week was wearing my slippers and trying to walk with them. It is funny for me because I remember my younger sister doing that very long ago. He is also starting to get bossy, trying to impose his sense of order on me – for example he tells me to : put cap on.. or orders : “sunglasses on”, “shoe on”. These orders do not always imply that he wants to go out, he just feels that this is how it should be at a particular time.
Although his development amazes me on some aspects, he is still far behind on the subject of toilet training. He knows what the toilet is for, and he observe me (and other kids at school I believe) while using it – so he knows sitting toilet (toiten), but it is something that other people do at the moment, and he does not associate it with himself yet. So it seems that more effort is required from my side in this area.