Feed on

So much for going cold turkey. After two and a half mind-numbing days of staying in the house and putting Simon on the potty every 30 minutes, we had 21 accidents and one success to show for our efforts. I had done two loads of laundry, Simon had worn every pair of shorts and underwear that he owns (some more than once), and we had had a fair bit of undies-only time.

For all of that, I still did not get the impression that Simon could tell when he needed to go. Nor did he seem to mind being wet. All day Tuesday, we put him on the potty on the hour and half hour, and all day Tuesday he peed on the 15- and 45-minute mark. Our out-of-sync timing was uncanny. I can still hear the oven timer in my head (much like I can hear slot machines ring long after I leave Las Vegas), but we never “caught” Simon and got him to go on the potty, a success that was supposed to encourage more of the same.

By the time I went to get Simon up from his nap Wednesday afternoon, I was cranky and fried. Simon awoke a bit cranky, too, with a soaked pull-up and wearing nothing but that and his pajama shirt from the day before. That, for me, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I know some people consider all-day pajama-wearing to be a sinful luxury, but for me it is an index of illness and/or depression. Healthy, happy people wake up, put on clothes, and GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.

But there we sat, three days into a spring break marked by gorgeous weather, me with an increasing desperation to do something fun, and my little guy looking frankly indigent.

Now, I am sure that many would counsel us to stick with the potty-training lock-down. And had I seen any real progress, I would have. What’s one boring week in the grand scheme of things? But we hadn’t had the kind of break-through advocates of the lock-down method promise, and I had the distinct feeling that while Simon was holding up OK for now, that he wouldn’t forever. And mommy was clearly on the brink. It was time to change course.

So while Matt watched Simon Wednesday afternoon, I researched, downloaded, and read a book on potty-training boys that took a slower approach. This author team thinks that all-or-nothing approaches often fail for boys, as many of them are older before they are physiologically and mentally ready and are then slower to learn. They recommend a graduated approach with the training broken down into “sessions”. They want you to praise the heck out of your guy for any sign of cooperation or progress. They want your son to have more control or ownership over the training. And they want you to try very hard not to become a miserable wretch during the enterprise.

Sounds good to me. Interestingly, despite our feelings of failure, Simon has since shown some subtle signs of progress. Wednesday night, when I offered a diaper, pull-up, or underwear, he chose the underwear. (That surprised me, frankly. I was expecting him to retreat.) Thursday morning and evening, he took his Curious George doll, told him it was time to use the potty, dragged him into the bathroom, pulled down his underwear (George is wearing a pair of Simon’s these days), and explained the whole thing to him. Then, after making fake potty noises, he praised George and flushed. Then, hilariously, he asked if “George” could have five M&Ms in a bowl.

And Thursday afternoon at Jim and Evie’s, Evie saw him doing the potty dance and asked if he needed to go. Simon—finally!—said yes, and the two of them managed to get him to go in a cup before he totally messed himself. So while the bad news is that Simon is physiologically not quite there, he’s mentally getting closer and is being good natured and cooperative.

So while we are not exactly setting a blistering pace, we’re at least moving forward.

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