Remember how I said we were encouraging Joe to potty train last May?
Yeah, that went nowhere.
We have been encouraging Joe to wear undies or try sitting on the potty since he started talking (which was admittedly a bit late), so well over a year now. But most of the time, he adamantly refused to do either. And I don't know about other three-year-olds, but mine is amazingly stubborn. And emphatic. The conversation would go like this:
Me: "Joe, would you like to wear big boy undies? Look, these ones have Thomas on them! Yay!"
Joe: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NO UNDIES! I DON'T LIKE UNDIES!" (Dissolves into incoherent shrieking.)
Other conversations went like this:
Me: "Joe, would you like to sit on the potty?
This might have been sort of okay, except that Joe also resisted diaper changes with similar vehemence. It has been a long year.
I'm not going to try to pretend that Steve and I were just totally cool with this. That we were just going with the flow, "trusting" that he would one day be ready, and letting him do this on his own time. That just wouldn't be true. The truth is that we have been pretty frustrated with Joe's resistance to the potty. Over the past year, we have tried: talking to Joe about it, reward systems, bribing, guilt-tripping, telling him that only babies use diapers and big boys use the potty, telling him that we were running out of diapers (he went into the back room and found some extras we had forgotten about), exposing him to other kids who use the potty, and just plain old begging. I'm ashamed to admit that in our frustration, we have occasionally gotten a little angry with him for his refusal to even try. I mean, you try changing a shrieking, kicking, violent three-year-old with a poopy diaper and see whether you can keep your cool. You held it together? Good for you. Okay, now do that for a whole year.
But it probably won't shock other parents of stubborn three-year-olds to hear that none of these tactics worked. Rewards and bribes? This kid is "untouchable, like Eliot Ness." Shaming? He's completely impervious. Anger? It turns out that incoherent shrieking wins all arguments.
(Thank goodness Joe's awesome preschool was 100% okay with Joe wearing a diaper to school. We love Joe's school so much.)
So we tried everything. And nothing worked. So we pretty much gave up and resigned ourselves to having to force-change Joe's diapers forever. I joked that when Joe turns 18, he would have to change his own damn diapers.
Joe hit three and a half years.
Suddenly, there were small indications of change. Measurable only with very sensitive instruments.
A couple months ago, Joe was upstairs, stalling bedtime, and asked for undies. Um, okay ... ? So we put him in undies, and prepared to wake up to a mess. But it didn't happen. He woke up dry. And then requested a diaper in the morning, which he proceeded to do his morning business into.
This became a pattern. We were baffled. What kid night trains before they day train? Our kid, apparently. But hey, undies! Without incoherent shrieking! And he was keeping them dry!
Then Joe tried the potty, once or twice. Successfully!
I calculated that at this rate, Joe would be potty trained in approximately forty million years.
He put a few stickers on his "potty chart." (This is the only reward system I retained. Potty attempts, successes, or good faith efforts - as defined by me - get a sticker. Joe puts the sticker on his "chart" - see below. When the paper is full - as defined by me - Joe gets a toy. This is a highly formal system.)
But he still preferred diapers 98% of the time.
Nonetheless, after a couple of months, his chart filled up! We went to the toy store. Joe got a bag of marbles for his marble run and a little car.
|The fire hydrant and fireman are my favorites.|
The gears really started turning then. Potty equals sticker. Stickers equal toy!
He thought about this for a while.
Then last week, Steve and I were making dinner when Joe wandered into the bathroom, asked for help with the potty seat, closed the door, pulled down his drawers (we were peeking), and did his business, to the great astonishment of his parents. Then came into the kitchen and said, ever so casually, "I peed on the potty. I get two stickers."
You could have knocked us down with a feather. Our mouths were hanging open. I fell all over myself getting the kid his stickers.
And here's the really crazy part. Since that day last week, Joe has been pretty much dry. He just goes into the bathroom and does his thing like he's been doing this all his life. He has filled up a second chart in just a few days. I owe this kid a toy! I'm going to have to make some bigger charts ...
And so, at just a few months shy of four years, Joe just made up his mind to use the toilet, and he did it.
We are flabbergasted! And delighted! And cracking up about how very Joe it all is. He's still our stubborn, untouchable Joe who refuses to do anything unless he wants to do it. At that point, if he can fleece us for some toys, great. But he makes it so very clear that it will be on his own terms, not because we asked him to.
This child! He is so much his own person. Different than me. Different than his dad. So very self-possessed and determined. Patient. Impervious to parental or peer pressures. So very Joe.
All of my friends, who have been saying, "He'll do it when he's ready," for the past year, are now saying, "Oh ye of little faith! I told you so!"
I like being right about as much as the next person. And I generally don't love to be wrong. But I'm so, so tickled to be able to say, "Yes, you did! You were right."