Potty Training Ain’t for the Faint of Heart

  I’ve mentioned in a few posts in the last couple months that we’d started potty training G.  I’m not going to hex myself by calling him potty trained, but we are close enough that I’m comfortable saying we’re done with diapers.  You know, for the next 3 or 4 months til his little brother shows up and we have to break out the newborn sized ones anyhow.
  If you’d have asked me a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been so confident.  
  We started out a little over 2 months ago, using the method described in the “Oh Crap.  Potty Training” ebook.  It went incredibly well.  We were just sneaking in at the tail end of her recommended 20-30 month window and G took to it super fast.  I don’t think he ever had more than 2 accidents in a day during the whole training and within a week I felt comfortable out of the house on our usual schedule with him out of diapers (if with a bit of extra vigilance).
  We had most of a month of blissful, day-time trained potty heaven.  I got smug and started patting myself on the back for our having done so easily what so many parents struggle with.  The child-rearing gods heard me, and oh lord did they smite me for it.
  The Mr. and I left for a weekend out of town with friends and G stayed at my parents’ house.  He did wonderfully.  Was well behaved and adorable for them, as grandchildren always are for grandparents, and didn’t have any issues with the potty until the night we picked him up, when he got too caught up in a party my folks were having and forgot to get there in time.  Nothing out of the ordinary.
  Something clearly happened on the drive home though.  Somehow our darling, potty trained child was replaced by an evil, belligerent poop monster.  After most of a month of no problems, suddenly the potty was the enemy.
  It started rather subtly.  We hadn’t started sleep training G, and so he was still wearing pull-ups for his nap and at bedtime.  After that weekend, he started refusing to poop in the potty and would only poop at nap time or at night when we put the pull-ups on.  We had wanted to start sleep training soon anyhow, so we figured we’d attempt to fix by the problem by just taking the pull-ups away.  That’s when the real hell started.
  Deprived of an “acceptable” place, he stopped waiting til nap time and just started going in his pants whenever.  Thank GOD he stayed “pee trained”, but cleaning up a toddler who has decided to poop in his pants is no picnic in and of itself.  I tried to keep an eye on him, to stay vigilant to any little indication that would indicate a need to rush him to the potty, but he’d bide his time, and eventually I would need to get something from the basement, or cook dinner, or just get too engrossed in a book I was reading and the next thing I’d know he’d be announcing he’d had an accident.
  We begged, we bribed, we threatened.  Two weeks of no response to anything we did.  Offers of french fries, cookies, candy.  Taking away his favorite toys when he went on the floor instead of in the toilet.  Nothing helped.  He’d simply smile a little sadly and say “oh, I lose Thomas now.  Next time I’ll poop in the potty.” and go on, refusing to use it, refusing to so much as try.
  I want to say right now that potty training is difficult even in the best of circumstances, and being pregnant?  I’m moody and hormonal and I can’t even have a glass of wine after a long day…let alone the 3 shots of whiskey I felt like I needed most nights during those two weeks.
  I’m not writing this post because I think we’ve found some magical method to potty train a kid.  I’m writing it because during those two weeks I was desperate.  Desperate for new ideas, having burned through the standard issue ones so quickly, and mostly, desperate for reassurance that we could get to the end of this.
  I cried.  More than one night I broke down crying, because I was so tired and defeated, and because after failing over and over and over to get through to him, I didn’t want to have to even see my child the next day, let alone try again.  Nothing I’ve dealt with before has made me question myself as a mother in the ways this has.
  I’m not entirely sure what caused the turn around.  After 2 weeks I was pretty much done.  I was teetering on the edge of putting him back into pull-ups for his nap just in the hopes that we could at least keep things contained (and I could stop having to scrub my floor multiple times a day) when he decided to start using the toilet again.
  I had brought home a copy of “Elmo’s Potty Time” from the library, and I think that it helped…if nothing else it gave me a new arsenal of terms to use when G resisted, but I honestly think it was just that I stopped making it such a big deal.  We didn’t change any of what we were doing…kept offering treats if he went and taking away toys when he had an accident…but having resigned myself to the idea that nothing I could do was going to change his behavior, I stopped freaking out when he didn’t cooperate.
  Suddenly, he started using the toilet again.
  For about a week it was hit or miss.  He thought it was awesome when he got treats and got to get his toys he’d lost for accidents back, but still occasionally refused to try.  Slowly but surely, we moved towards less and less failures and more successes.  This week we’re finally to a point where he’s so fanatical about it that I’ve had to change our rewards system so he doesn’t hurt himself for the sake of a fun-sized Snickers bar.
  Like I said, I’m not writing this because I’ve got the solution.  I’m still living in fear that at any moment he’s going to decide that it’s time to mess with us again, but for the time being at least, he’s diaper and pull-up free and not having more than one or two accidents a week, day or night.  We seem to have made it through the dark times.
  So if you’re in the throws of potty training and are finding yourself asking “what else can I DO?” just take heart from me.  Sometimes the answer isn’t finding something more, but stopping trying quite so hard.  Good luck!
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