For the past year (and then some) people have been assuring us that RR “would not go to college wearing diapers.” I don’t think we believed them. I’m sure we didn’t. In fact, we started making a list of possible acceptable careers that wouldn’t mind if she wore diapers. At the top of that list? Long-distance trucking and hauling.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we broke her poor little spirit. That’s what it took. Saturday morning, we were expecting friends to visit over the long weekend (with their twin five-year-old boys) and we enlisted them (unbeknownst to them) to help us, help RR, start to use the toilet.
We brought Henry out to the living room. We bought a bag of dum-dum lollipops. A bag of gummy bears. Withdrew one million dollars in cash, and a shipped in a selection of magical real-life rainbow unicorns. OK, kidding on that last one. We set the timer, and when it went off, she sat on the potty. After the first ten or so times, she stopped angrily protesting.
Saturday afternoon, we convinced her to go WITHOUT underpants in the back yard. J, one of the visiting twins (who loves to be naked), joined in solidarity. And there they were – sitting on the brick garden wall, pants-less. RR looked up at me at some point with the saddest and most defeated face. “Why are you doing this to me, Mama?” it said.
For the entire weekend, aside from nap-time, she was shadowed by someone. One of us, one of the other two parents, and J (who was really invested in helping RR learn how to use the potty). R, the other twin, was stoked to be left alone.
RR, who LOVES her independent play… loves disappearing into her room, into the back yard, in the sandbox alone, in a corner, behind a door… having constant company nearly 60 hours straight BROKE. HER. DOWN.
Sunday morning, we all went on a lovely hike, where RR soiled her panties four times in, oh, maybe two hours. Not once did she say anything, or even stop her stride, to pee. Just dry one second, wet the next. But we had 24 hours under our belt. We weren’t stopping. Heck, we were actually OUT of diapers. It wasn’t even a lie!
We carried on like this until mid-morning on Monday, Memorial Day. I ran out to the store to get breakfast, and when I came home found everyone having lollipops. The boys and RR were all celebrating her three drops of pee in the potty. Everyone was so excited. To quote RR, “I knew I could do it!”
The celebration was short, though, and “Team Potty” (us, visiting parents, twins) disbanded and the other half of our team headed homeward. About an hour later, during one of the timed sitting sessions, lo and behold, the kid filled up the whole potty with pee. We just about went ballistic with happiness. After all, this was the first time she peed any significant quantity since August? July? Of 2013.
We sent her to school on Tuesday in panties, and by 3pm, she had soiled very many pairs. 4? 5? My wife picked her up at 3pm and they went home to continue practicing.
By this time, we had won the power struggle, and it was becoming more of teaching her to learn her body and it’s cues and feelings, and less about trying to pin her flailing, crying, angry self on the toilet. From 3pm until 8am FRIDAY morning, we practiced. Well, RR practiced. And my wife gained some grey hairs. I love that woman. She took all day Wednesday and Thursday off of work, armed with lollipops, the movie “Frozen,” a timer that made an elephant sound when it went off, and RR started uttering sentences like, “Oh! I have to pee!” AND THEN SHE WOULD PEE IN THE POTTY!
One night that week when WE COULD SMELL SUCCESS, I drove to Wal-Mart and bought so many underpants.
That Friday, we sent her back to school. Fingers crossed. Around lunchtime, we received an email stating that she had peed in the school toilet TWICE and was in the same underpants from that morning. RR’s practice. My wife’s blood, sweat, and tears. It had all paid off.
Gradually, we moved Henry into the bathroom (he was in the living room). Then we removed him all-together and replaced him with a potty seat cover and a stool.
So now it’s been two weeks, and we’re going on about one accident per day, which is phenomenal. It usually happens when she’s distracted, or doesn’t wanna give up her spot on the school swing (her favorite activity ever). But she sits whenever we ask her to (before leaving, when we get home, etc.) and takes initiative to go when she is at school.
Poop, apparently, is, like, a whole different thing. She’s successfully managed it at school once, but all other times (at school, at home, at Granny’s) we’ve had serious underpants clean-up duty. One pair of panties outright got thrown away. The other pair made it into the wash, but only after we hosed them down (AND HER, TOO) outside with the garden hose. True story.
As it turns out, she would rather use the toilet than have her independent time taken away. It seems like she turned the corner in toileting just so that we would leave her the fuck alone. Whatever works, kid.
And now the albatross is gone. The lingering sensation of being a failure parent. Of having the only kid in diapers at school. OF EVER BUYING DIAPERS AGAIN. (Aside from those pesky nighttime ones…) The shame of her diaper sticking out from under her summer dresses. All gone.
RR and my wife deserve the credit, really. They were amazing rock star toileting superhumans. Hallelujah for them both.