I had one of those terrifying mommy moments last week when I felt sure I was alone in my plight. I knew almost for sure that I was far behind in a particular area of child-raising and that no one could possibly understand my frustration and bewilderment. All of this mental torment started when I decided to look up “delayed potty-training”. When I discovered that little A is right on the cusp of being “delayed”, my mind began to whirl. I knew it was taking a looooooooooooooonnnngggg time to reach this milestone, but really, “delayed”? Personal pride swelled up and I knew I had to up my game.
I read through the possible causes of this kind of developmental delay. I dismissed the physical ones, because I know she has not complained of any pain in “going”, and she regularly tells me when she is going–it’s just into a diaper or pull-up. She doesn’t express any fear about the toilet itself, and she has in fact “gone” a few times–but far too few, I’m afraid. Then, I almost burst into tears of relief as I read another cause: extreme stubbornness of the child. I couldn’t tell if I was laughing maniacally or sobbing with exhaustion as I read this. V and I thought our son was hard-headed. Ha. This pretty, cute, decked-out-in-pink dynamo takes stubborn to a whole new level. There are times that I think she believes she has something like Jedi mind-control: “I’m going to have vanilla milk,” she says. She forgets to ask, so she just states it, even after a “No, that’s too sweet for right before dinner” reply. Then, she states it again.
We are steadily showing her the importance of obedience and respect, but she isn’t bending easily. The potty training is no different. “A,” I say, “Let’s go try to use the potty!” “No. I just want to wear a diaper,” is her comeback. Sometimes I’ll back off and let her have her way, and sometimes I’ll persist and lead her to the bathroom. Sometimes she actually cries and physically resists going. I don’t want to cause huge distress over this, but I’m confused about why sometimes she’s perfectly willing, and other times it seems like punishment. I’m certainly open to ideas to motivate her, but please believe I have tried just about everything.
After reading about her near-delayedness, I challenged her and invited her to try something new: no diaper, no pull-up. Just the undies. She had to admit, cotton was a nice feel. She also had to admit, it was not bulky. So when we have stretches of time at home, I let her hang out in this fashion (on the tile of course, since we are trying to sell the house and pee stains all over might not be inviting to potential buyers), and take her to the potty as often as she’ll go. On the positive side, she has kept those undies dry, for more than an hour at a time! I celebrated this with her! However, she has not released a single drop of anything liquid into that potty all those times of trying. I can’t even remember the last time she did. Months ago, maybe?
I really thought today was going to be our breakthrough day. I got brave and let her go without her pull-up or diaper through lunch. I even forgot for a few minutes that she was not wearing one! Little A loves to have her toenails painted, and she has fun picking out really neat colors at the store sometimes. Today, with her previous nail polish having been removed a few days ago, she asked me to “paint them purple”. I decided to use this to my advantage, and I said, “sure, as soon as you pee in the potty.” With all this walking around in just her undies and a romper, surely something would happen. No. Not a drop.
I applaud whatever victories come our way in this and every milestone, and I do my best not to criticize the slowness of progress. She is a unique person, and I just want to help her make this happen. Still, though, she will be three and a half this month. There are many things that she wants to do that have to wait till she is fully potty trained–like starting ballet lessons and wearing a leotard to gymnastics. I also know that all things considered, I have nothing but thanks to give for the health and well-being of both my children. I have absolutely no real complaints, and in fact, I’m humbled by the sheer amount of blessing L and A are to us.
So, I’m just wondering–does anyone else have these gaps in a child’s development? I just find it strange that my little girl has been able to spell and write our 11-letter last name for at least six months…she will jump off a four-foot high vault into a foam pit with no fear…she can do a beautiful toe point and several ballet positions…she is learning how to read some words…she is a good drawer of faces and writer of names…she can say grace and pray for family members…she can sing 90% of the score of “The Sound of Music” quite well…she can dribble a small basketball 30 times in a row…but don’t make her give up those diapers. I just don’t get it. I love her, I know I’ll look back on all this and laugh, but I am kind of going batty lately over her stubbornness! Prayers, comments, wisdom, empathy–I welcome them all. Bless all the parents and caregivers out there trying to do their best for these beautiful, precious children!