At not even eighteen months and petite finding her underwear was quite a challenge. We ended up going with 2T and washing them in hot water and over-drying until they were more her size. She was off to the races. She was a big girl! She peed on the potty and even usually told us when she needed to go. Unfortunately at that age it was like every forty-five minutes which made it hard to get anything done, but we followed her lead. She even seemed to have a grasp of pooping on the potty and by nineteen months of so was nearly potty trained.
What happened from there I really don't know. She started pooping in her swim diaper. Then holding her poop all together. Then she started fighting using the potty at all. She was still young so we followed her lead. Back to pull-ups we went but still offered her the potty and she still used it some.
This Thanksgiving, nearly a year later, she woke up wanting her underwear back. Her use of the potty had been hit and miss but hey at least she was interested again. To our surprise she went the first three days with only one accident. But the catch was she would ask for a pull-up to poop sometimes. Hey, at least it is easier cleanup than underwear and she recognizes the urge. Even better, she isn't resisting when she needs to poop.
But then I let other voices start getting in my head. I still consider myself new to parenting. Every stage, every curve she throws at us is a first. I have worked with kids most my life. I have potty trained or been a part of the potty training process on more than three dozen kids, several of which had special needs. But when they say every kid is different, they aren't kidding. I have literally never seen two train exactly the same. And when it came to my daughter we were warned that it may be tricky because she is so intelligent, headstrong, and clever at finding the loopholes.
My excitement at her second initiation of potty training and her clear understanding of when she needed to do what was dampened when I learned she wouldn't tell other adults. Her teachers reported she had no interest and did not tell them before going and therefore could not wear underwear to school. That was an epic meltdown dressing her the next school day, telling her she couldn't wear underwear. Time and again people said "she is so young, she just isn't ready", "don't push her when she is so young", and then on the other side "don't let her ask for pull-ups, if she knows she needs to go make her use the potty or you'll never get her out of diapers."
There is nothing more frustrating that having your parenting questioned. There is nothing more frustrating that potty-training to begin with when it comes to parenting a toddler. And the tone of our house and potty training took a downhill turn. She started holding her poop and only letting a nugget out as big as she could hold in her cheeks, then letting it drop in the potty after the fact. She started resisting being told she had to try to go potty before we left the house, even when we assured her just to pee. Frustrations and resistance mounted and yesterday as I looked at my sweet, beautiful, intelligent child I understood when the parenting specialists say child-abuse is most likely to start over potty training. Let me clarify, my child is safe and I would not harm one precious hair on her head. But when it is you "against" your child and the world is only dishing out judgement...I get it.
So we had a chat. I asked her where potty comes from and she told me first you eat and swallow it, then it goes down your throat to your stomach and through your "testines" and comes out as poop. We talked about where the poop goes and she told me in the potty, not in your underwear. I asked about a pull-up and she said "well I want to but that is not a good choice."
I thought back to the last time we were both happy about potty training. It was when she was recognizing the urge and asking for a pull-up. It was before I let all the other opinions in my head, back when I had my own plan for stair-stepping from the pull-up to the potty. It was when I let go of what I thought was best for this unique child and listened to everyone else that training derailed. So we are taking a few steps back. Going back to my original plan. And taking the pressure off so things can go back to fun and happy at our house.
In one day the mood changed. And she even voluntarily sat to "poop" on the potty one time once she knew she didn't have to. Not much came out but we all celebrated the crap out of it! And while I get that using the potty should be an "intrinsic reward", when she does something great like this, we celebrate it!
I'm grateful to recognize the tone of the house and the need to bring it back to a positive place. I'm grateful to kick all the other thoughts and opinions out of my head and focus on the one child that matters in this process, mine. I'm grateful for all the experience I have had in the past even when none of it seems to apply to this child. I'm grateful for the supportive words I have received in this potty training saga. I'm grateful that even though it has been a long journey I can honestly say "she is ready because SHE initiated this whole process." I'm grateful for her teachers being open to working with her on potty-training at school after hearing that she was doing so well at home. I'm grateful for friends that can just celebrate the successes, hug at the stumbles, and let their own opinions be kept until asked. I'm grateful to have an amazing child, whose intelligence and creativity never cease to amaze and amuse us. I'm grateful for HER patience as her parents try to stumble through this parenting stuff and derail her own plans. I'm grateful to feel like we are back on track as I let the unnecessary stress float away.
We all face challenges in our lives, even if you don't have kids. And we have all been faced with the world's opinions on what we "should" be doing. How do you keep centered and follow your path? What helps you to stay focused on what is best for you and tune out the opinions and expectations of others?
May today remind us that we are all on unique journeys. May we celebrate our differences and know that both our strengths and our weaknesses are what make us truly amazing. Have a beautiful day!