Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Bites

So....the potty. Let's just say that progress has been slow, which isn't really anyone's fault (other than mine), because we are always going somewhere, every day, and we haven't been able to do anything consistently. Add to that recent trips to Lava Hot Springs and Las Vegas, and you can see why it's been easier for us to just let Penny wallow in pull-ups most days. We keep saying we're going to go cold turkey and buy the underwear and clean up messes for a few days. But I'm still trying not to make this too traumatic.

In my limited experience, children going through potty training fall into two (or three) camps: those who don't mind running around naked, those who also seem to be intrinsically rewarded by going potty on their own, and those who are motivated by tangible reinforcement of one kind or another (M&Ms, etc). My child does not fall into any of these categories. I have not been able to find a good motivator, not to mention the issues I have with food-based token reward reinforcement systems, but what's a parent to do? Some kids really love M&Ms. My kid loves fruit snacks, but not enough to sit on the toilet for one.

"I'm a Viking!"

We've (sort of) been using a sticker chart, and there are loads of stickers on the "I sat on the potty!" and "I washed my hands!" rows, but the lines about actually producing/flushing are completely bare. At first, Penny was really into collecting stickers on the lines, because it meant that when it was full, she could get a new dolly. But somewhere along the way, it lost its appeal.

We've been talking it up a lot, about how big girls use the potty, and we list all the big girls we know, and I'm sure Penny is sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of hearing myself; for all I know, I'm making her feel bad. I hear about kids who magically decide one day they want to use the bathroom and I want to believe that will happen, but it's hard to imagine, really. Do I keep pushing the issue, to let her know I'm serious about this? Do I leave it alone for a while? Why do I feel like I've tried everything AND nothing? ("We've tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas!")

Tonight, on a whim, I asked if she wanted to sit on the potty before she put her pajamas on, and she said she did. I gave her a stack of books, because she does her best reading on the toilet. When she finished the books she had, she asked me for more, and while I was in her room, she exclaimed, "I peed in the potty!" And she was right.

And there was much rejoicing.

After she was ready for bed, I was holding her on the couch, telling her how proud I was. Then, when I gave her an encouraging squeeze, SHE BIT ME. It was the slightest nip on my arm, but still. Before I even said anything, she knew she had made a mistake. But the crazy thing was, instead of making a scene, I went into this Zen mode (which surprised me) and said, calmly, "Biting is not nice. We don't bite anybody." In classic Penny Oh-Crap-I'm-In-Trouble-And-I'm-Embarrassed form, she shut down and started crying, although it didn't last long. She rushed through an (admittedly forced) apology, and then we headed for bed.

And then I remembered something that happened to me when I was little. My sister and I were brushing our teeth one night, and I must have done something incredibly snotty. In any case, my sister bit me right on my back, and I knew, even then, that I deserved it. So I told Penny that story and she was very intrigued. I explained that we were little and I made my sister mad and she didn't know how to tell me, so she bit me. Biting me wasn't right, but it also wasn't right for me to make her mad.

Anyway, after the lights were out and Penny was in her bed, she called me into her room a few minutes later.

Penny: "Mama, I need someping."
Me: "What do you need?"
Penny: "I need a drink of water."
Me: "Ok, but this is the last one."
Penny: "Ok."
(I give her the water, and a hug.)
Me: "I'm proud of you for going on the potty."
Penny: "I sorry I bit you, Mama."
Me: "Oh Honey, it's ok."

And she really meant it. Inside, I was turning cartwheels of joy because she had thought about it, and wanted to tell me.

So the moral is, potty training may result in frustration and biting. Great! I can't wait for tomorrow.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I am pretty sure this calls for a "You know something, Marge? We're great parents!" moment. Hooray!

[btw, my captcha word is "skill"...]