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Booty Duty

March 17, 2011

I am full of crap.  I apologize for the vulgarity, but it’s better than the other four-letter word I could use in its place.  Poop, number two, doo-doo, BMs, it doesn’t matter what you call it.  I am surrounded by it all the time, and I’ve simply had my fill.

I am in the midst of potty training the youngest of my three children and it seems like every moment of my day revolves around potties, underpants, pull-ups and diapers.  I had forgotten from my two boys how very time consuming potty training really is…from sitting with her in the bathroom while we wait an eternity for a little trickle, or rewarding her with stickers and Hershey kisses for success.  For me, it seems that potty training takes all the good parenting instincts I normally have and throws them out the window.

I bribe, I nag, I push, I talk in a high-pitched squeaky voice, I scold one minute and dance around, clapping like an idiot, the next.  No matter what I do to encourage her or try to get her to perform, it’s not really up to me.  This is one of those things that is totally out of my control.  I know I’m supposed to be good at this.  I’m a stay-at-home mom.  It’s my job to potty train my children.  But I can’t even get our cat (who is ironically named “Pooh”) to use the litter box.  How am I supposed to get this stubborn child to use the potty every time she needs to go?

I find myself exasperated with this whole stinking process.  And yes, it does truly stink.  I know my daughter is actually doing really well with potty training.  She has responded to it better than either of my boys did.  Maybe I’m just too old, too tired, and too impatient any more to muster up the endless patience and encouragement I used to have.

My mom was here one day when my daughter pooped in her underpants.  I cringed, but tried to keep my cool while I reminded her that she was wearing big girl underpants and needs to tell me when she needs to go potty.  My mom told me stories of her swishing poopy underpants in a toilet filled with bleach, using the flusher to try to loosen up the sticky mess.  I admitted to her that I have actually thrown away some of the nastier accident-filled underpants rather than attempt to get them clean.

I should count my lucky stars that my daughter is as willing as she is for this whole process at only two-and-a-half years old.  My boys were three before we even began with them.  Then my mom reminds me that she potty trained my brother and me when we were even younger.  Maybe that is the secret that I should have employed with my kids–start them before they hit the age of two–when they still listen to everything Mommy says and before they show that stubborn streak.

All of my children come by their stubbornness honestly.  It’s just that each child got exponentially more stubborn on down the line.  Now that it’s my daughter’s turn to potty train, I’m barraged with a stream of “I don’t WANT to!” followed by tears and screaming.  The bribery, I mean, “rewards” of stickers and treats has worked well with her for staying dry.  However, her stubbornness kicks into high gear when faced with an impending poop.

Her latest feat is holding the poop in for three days at a time.  She cries that her belly hurts.  She says she’s cold and she doesn’t eat well toward the end.  I sit her on the potty and try to convince her that she’ll feel so much better if she just pushes that poopy out.  But she cries and says she’s scared.  Eventually, life marches on and I have to attend to one of my other kids, or the house, or dinner and I need to leave the bathroom without anything to show for all the effort.

Yesterday was day three of one of her poop strikes.  I had to pick up my oldest from school at three o’clock, so I told her, in so many words, that she had to go or get off the pot.  Once again, her stubbornness won out, so I put her in a pull-up instead of underpants and we went on our way.  We parked on the street and were about to get out of the car to walk to the front door of the school when my daughter started to cry.  She let out a shriek, then started to whine.  Her face turned bright red and I knew what was happening.

As I frantically looked around the car for the emergency wipes and old diapers that were stashed there from our last road trip, I saw a mommy friend walking up the sidewalk with her kids.  I called out to her, asking if she could get my oldest from school and walk him down to the corner for me since I had to attend clean-up duty with Allie.  She came to my rescue and I got down to work.

Finally, we made it home, changed her clothes, and got my boys settled in with homework and a craft.  Dinner, bath, and bedtime behind us, I tried to describe my day to my husband.  He wrinkled his nose at my too-graphic details and responded with a disgusted, “Nice.”  So I got in my jammies and brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.

“So early?” asked my husband.

I just kissed him and replied.  “Yeah.  I’m pooped.”

(First published in “Because I Said So” for TheAlternativePress.)

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