Jun 17 2010

Potty Training

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and thoughts about Marlis. We’re still grieving. It comes in waves. It will sound faintly ridiculous to those who have never had a beloved family pet, and very obvious to those who have, but sometimes I just feel stunned by the pain of her loss. There are moments when it just hurts and all I can do is concentrate on breathing and getting through it. But those moments pass. And already sometimes my thoughts of her are gentler and more bittersweet. I know that soon my memories of Marlis will be nice ones.

As for Robin, I don’t think her absence has really registered with him. He saw her after she had died, and I explained that she was gone, but I don’t know how much of that he understood. He seemed more worried that I was crying so much. He hasn’t asked about her since. We kept him inside while we buried Marlis, beneath a tree in the backyard that we’ve finally managed to identify as a California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica to you, Mom). We put a couple sprigs of the aromatic leaves in the burial box with Marlis, so that she could rest on her laurels. Her other grave goods included a comfy blanket, a squeak toy, and her rhinestone collar with brass nametag. So the archaeologists of the future will know her name, and that she was loved.

On another subject, today seemed like a good day to start potty training. I’ve been putting it off because my books all say a) not to start potty training when your family is experiencing major change, like, oh, for instance, a move to a new house, or the arrival of a new baby; and b) they also say to wait until the child himself expresses an interest in using the potty.

Well, conversations with Robin about the potty go like this:

Me: “Robin, look at this little potty we bought for you! Would you like to sit on the little potty?”
Robin: “Noooooo.”

Me: “Hi Robin! Yep, here I am in the bathroom, pooping on the potty. Someday you’ll go poop on the potty just like Mommy and Daddy!”
Robin: “NO!”

Me: “Sweetie, look! We got you a little toilet cover so that you can sit on the big potty like Mommy and Daddy! Would you like to sit on the big potty now?”
Robin: “NoooOOOOoooo!”

Then, sometimes, he runs away and hides.

For me, though, some kind of crucial threshold was crossed yesterday, when Robin found our Roku remote, turned on the TV, navigated through the Netflix-on-Demand interface to select a Thomas episode, and sat down to watch it. I thought to myself, “If he can do that, he can darn well poop in the potty!”

So, today, I set up the child-sized toilet cover, and the stepstool, and I got a couple of books, and I took Robin’s pants off, and I cajoled him into the bathroom and up on the stepstool. I could in no way cajole him to put his butt on the seat, and finally, in direct defiance of everything the potty training books say, I just sat him down by force as he screamed and bucked. Then I immediately distracted him with a picture book.

And the amazing thing is that it worked! He sat there, on the potty, while we read Where the Wild Things Are and Crazy Hair, and he was perfectly happy to do so! He even kind of commented a few times on how he was sitting on the potty: he pointed down at his bare lower half and said “Poopy!” and “Pee pee!” I responded by rhapsodizing about how, yes, he was sitting on the potty, and it would be absolutely wonderful if he decided to go poopy or pee pee while he was there, because that is what the potty is for.

He did not go poop, nor pee, but after the stories were over I lavished him with praise, and then he hopped down and I put his diaper back on. I’m completely thrilled just with the demonstration that Robin can sit on the potty for five minutes without it being a major ordeal. I’m hoping we can repeat the process tomorrow, and the next day, and then maybe build from there.