We’ve started letting H help clear the dishes after dinner. We want her to have a sense of helping, and she gets a kick out of putting things back in the fridge. Yellow care bear in one hand, she was cheerfully putting silverware into the dishwasher with me tonight when suddenly she was gone. I thought she’d just gotten distracted by something. Then I saw Josh run.
He made it to the bathroom just in time to see H’s wide-eyed confusion as pee streamed down her leg and all over the rug. By the time I got there she was seated, with soaked panties still on, on the toilet. It’s still quite common for a few drops to get in the pants; sometimes the whole crotch gets wet. It’s been months, however, since I’ve had to clean a trail of pee from the kitchen to the bathroom. All three of us were rather bewildered at this particular turn of events on the long road to potty training success.
When we started potty training in September, it was meant to be a three-day process. That was five months ago.
Given all that has transpired in those months, maybe I would have done things differently. Maybe I would have waited longer to start. The crux of the matter, like so many of the spinning plates in my life, is that we chose that time because I was pregnant with the twins. I wanted H to have a good six months to perfect the potty before she had a new baby brother or sister (this was before the final ultrasound). Also, Josh had finally returned from being gone all year, and we had finished our round of travel to see family. It seemed like the perfect moment.
Then I lost the twins, Josh left on deployment, and in grief-stricken, single parenthood I relied a great deal on simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other to get us through. The potty training was, at varying times, successful enough to give me hope of its soon success. Regardless, it is now far too late to abandon ship, despite H’s pitiful, and random, plea this afternoon for a diaper after she peed a bit in her underwear. In her post-nap stupor, she cried and clung to me and moaned for diapers to save her from the horror of having to remove the pee-soaked underwear herself. Sorry, kid, not a chance.
It’s not that I expect perfection from a child who’s two years and nine months old. But, dear God, what will it take to convince her to let us take her to the toilet before she starts peeing? In her defense, before today’s double debacle, we’d gotten the accidents down from almost every time she peed to 1-2 per day. After success and regression, she’s staying dry during naps again. Josh’s magic touch in taking a sleeping toddler to pee has also helped her to stay dry all night. (Author’s Note: Moments after writing this, Josh came in with a pantless, sleepy toddler, whom I held while he freshened up her pee-soaked bed. Apparently I jinxed her. Sigh.) I’m not at all trying to brag when I say she’s probably still ahead of most of her peers. I remind myself of this when I’m ready to start tearing out my hair.
H, unfortunately or not, received, along with beauty and charm, the combined stubbornness of both sides of the family. We’re talking some alarmingly stubborn people here. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more resolutely stubborn creature in my life than my daughter. Combine that with an under-developed sense of logic, a stubborn mom, and a case of denial over the fact that she has to pee, and you’ve got a perfect storm of wet pants ad nauseam. (I will refer you to the multiple occasions when she asserts, "I can't go pee pees," sweeping her tiny arm defiantly, as she pees in the toilet.) Some days I feel that it is only my conviction of her slim chances of going to college with wet pants that keeps me going.
Several times (here, here, and here), I have talked about the potty training journey. Often I wrap up by philosophizing that children need time to blossom into the flowers they are, or some such bullshit. Tonight, however, maybe I’ll just count small blessings. For example, I don’t have to pay for water on base, so bring on the pee-soaked laundry! This is the longest H has had two parents around in a year and a half, so maybe our powers combined will turn the tide. I am now versed in removing pee from every soft surface in my house. Surely this is valuable Mom-knowledge. Finally, let’s admit it, H is still the cutest, most lovable, sweetest child I could ever hope to parent. If this is as bad as it gets, then yeah, I guess I can clean up some pee.