15 July 2009

Ring Around The Moon

I'm hot, I'm sweaty and I'm covered in pee because a new brand of cloth diaper we were testing just failed like a sieve. I'm sitting on the bathroom floor in my nursing bra and panties, with a semi-nude Maggie now safely in a more reliable brand of cloth diaper. She is alternately gulping and coughing to keep up with the fast stream of milk rushing from my breast, which sprays all over both of us every time she pulls back. A naked butt blurs past me, as Max gleefully streaks out of the bathroom past me. Maggie dangling wildly from my breast, I race into the living room training diaper in hand just in time to see his baby white butt launch into the air as he trips over his own feet, and crumples to the ground sobbing. It's another successful day of potty training.

You might think I'm insane for potty training Max this soon after the new addition, and I'm inclined to agree. However, this wasn't my choice, it wasn't Paul's choice, and it wasn't even in our plans for the immediate future. It was Max's choice.

It's been a long time since I've gone to the bathroom without an audience. I've long since gotten over the feeling guilty of holding a wailing baby over my shoulder while relieving my bladder. Later, when Max's separation anxiety stage kicked in, I often carried him with me to the bathroom, sitting him in his Bumbo or in a strategically placed playpen outside the bathroom door. Now going to the bathroom with mommy is such a routine he often follows me in chattering away about whatever it is that interests him that day. I'm so used to this routine, that I have to remind myself to close the bathroom door when I'm at friends'.

Last Thursday, we were following this normal bathroom ritual; Maggie briefly occupied in her playpen, when Max looks at me quizzically, "Maxi poops?"

Not really listening, I replied, "Yes, Mommy is going potty."

He repeats his previous phrase a little more loudly and with a whine at the end "Maxi poop-EEEEEEEE?" because maybe now, Mommy will pay attention.

Startled, and a little confused, I looked up at him, "Is Maxi going poop?"

He nods his head yes. I was used to this, as he has been alerting us for weeks now about activity in his diaper. A preliminary inspection reveals his diaper is still clean.

I start to get a little excited, as he repeats his phrase raising the volume each time, "MAXI POOPS!!!!!"

I ask him tentatively, "Does Maxi want to use the potty?" He solemnly nods his head, yes.

"OK," and I start to remove his diaper.

When I pick him up to set him on the potty, he locks his long legs around my body crying "NO!"

"OK, you don't have to," and I put him down.

He repeats his phrase, "Maxi poops.”

This sequence of events repeats a few more times before I get a brainstorm.

I close the lid of the toilet, and ask him, "Do you want to sit on the toilet now?" He nods yes, and I pick him up, he screams again, but I sit him down anyways. After about 3 seconds, he realizes he is OK and starts laughing hysterically.

Suddenly, I remember the children's step-stool potty stored in our other bathroom. We had briefly courted with the idea of potty training this winter, and purchased one, but after reading the first chapter of the book decided neither he nor we were ready.

With Max following me excitedly, quipping his new favorite phrase, I quickly dig the potty out and install it on the toilet, the whole time sure that Max is going to fulfill his prophecy on the floor before I get it installed.

As I'm installing it, Maggie starts to cry, but I don't want to lose this moment with him, so I ignore her. Once Max is safely on top of the pot, I quickly retrieve Maggie who wants to eat. Max is thrilled with this new throne, and chatters away about it for several minutes. I hover over him expectantly holding fussy Maggie. Nothing happens. Five minutes pass. Nothing happens.

Trying not to let the disappointment show on my face, I look at him, and ask, "All done?"


This is going to take a little longer. So, I sit down on the floor to start nursing Maggie who is now voluminously voicing her displeasure at not being fed on demand.

"Mama, Maggie, go!" Have I ever mentioned that the hardest thing about your child learning how to talk is when they start telling you what to do?

"I can't go honey," I can't leave him on my hastily installed potty that at any moment topple and send him plummeting two feet.

"Mama, Maggie, go!" Who is this kid, who has been accompanying me to the bathroom, his entire life, but is suddenly overcome by modesty?

"OK," I relent, and Maggie and I retreat to the hallway the bathroom door open, Max in clear view.

I nurse Maggie, while Max blabbers away. When I'm finished nursing and burping her, I ask him if he is done, and wants to get down. He is emphatic in his dissent. I grab the bouncy chair from the living room and put Maggie in it next to me. I'm starting to get a little bored now as the initial excitement has worn off. I inspect the potty; there isn't even a drop of pee on it. Every time I ask him if he wants to get off, he refuses. So we wait.

Then a bell goes off in my head, my dad potty trained me in 3 days or so he claims. He sat me on the potty the entire time, feeding me food and drinks and entertaining me. So I run and grab his half-drank juice from breakfast and a book, Everyone Poops from the living room. Then I do what every good mother does, and I grab the camera. After a few shots of him reading the book on the toilet, he still refuses to get down from the toilet, yet this is yielding no results, I realized we are going to need a few more books, and a little bit more food. Eventually I install a bedside table next to him, complete with a neat stack of books, and a bowl of grapes, followed by cookies, followed by pretzels. I sat down again next to Maggie, feed her again, and call Paul to tell him what is happening. I'm the pinnacle of patience right now.

Suddenly I hear a stream of pee which Max inspects with his hands. Thrilled, I exclaim, and clap my hands. Maxi claps too. I ask him if he is all done, he still refuses to get off the toilet. A few minutes later, he poops, and I'm so proud of him when I can't get through to his father to share the news, I wake my mom up on the East Coast. .

Since Thursday, the novelty of the potty has worn off for Maxi. When he's not distracted or too busy, or he sees an opportunity to make Mommy put Maggie down, he lets me know when he has to use the potty. Since the first amazingly successful day, we have had a few pees and poops in the toilet, a few pees on the floor, and a whole lot of M&M rewards (read bribes). I introduced the M&M's to encourage Maxi to get off the toilet. Otherwise Max would spend half the day up there.

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