I believe in Fairies. The Tooth Fairy makes frequent deposits under the LeBleu children’s sleeping heads and the Chemo Fairy has been to my house five times in the last six weeks dropping off cherished goodies and pampering gifts wrapped in beautiful pink packaging. And like Pinocchio dreaming of becoming a real boy and calling upon the powers of the Blue Fairy, what I desperately need in my life right now is a Potty Fairy.
Caroline is my fourth child and the last one clinging to her diapers. She will be three in May and by peer comparison, she should have been out months ago. She is a girl – she has three older siblings, she goes to preschool – she knows how the magic happens – she just has absolutely no interest in taking responsibility for her bodily functions.
I know – parenting gurus tell us to be patient. She will not enter kindergarten wearing diapers. But – by my accounts, I have been changing diapers since 1998 – with a year off for good behavior between 2004 and 2005. That’s it. I’ve been back on the clock since March 10, 2005 and we are now in 2009. I need a break from diapers. If she can tell me that her diaper needs to be changed, lead me into her room, lie down on the floor, then by golly she can be using the toilet.
For all the angst she is giving me now (she is a tween with a fitting birthday of July 4th, Independence Day), Danielle gave me no trouble getting her out of diapers at age two and a half. Sure, I was pregnant with my 2nd child, but I was able to give her my undivided attention. With my son Travis, he was out of diapers just before he turned three and the only way I got him to poop on the potty was to bribe him with a Thomas the Tank Engine train. Not the cheapie metal ones from Target, we are talking the full price wooden ones. With the economic times being as disastrous as they are, the only safe currency and haven for retirement savings these days is in goods with a secondary eBay market.
With Sabrina, she was ready just after she turned two but we had to ease off the toilet transition plan while we dealt with the ramifications of a pair of horrifying incidents when she was trying to convince us she could give up her afternoon nap . You may have heard of these children . You know – the ones that play with poop or perform some other artistic endeavor with it? Either they have Mensa IQs or they are on the eventual path to paranoid delusions. On one of these occasions when she was supposed to be napping – I ran to the grocery store for a few last minute items while my husband stayed home, working from the upstairs office. My sister and her two daughters were flying in that afternoon from Tacoma, WA. I was to drop the groceries off and immediately head to the airport. When I got home – I faced an unholy horror. A trail of poop ran from her room, down the tile floor, up the once-upon-a-time white carpeted staircase, and onto the banister and walls. OH MY GOD! This was a scene even Dr. Spock would agree called for a valium. Or two. One could not subject even the most sympathetic of family to this profane kind of domestic disaster. So – I found my poop covered toddler, put her in the bath and then proceeded to bleach, Oxyclean, and Pinesol the offending trail (OH MY GOD). Then I did it again. I was a mess of sweat and gore and my hands were burning with earth-hostile chemical s. I know I put my wedding ring down right THERE. Did I? It is all a blur. Later, when I was retracing my steps, I asked Sabrina if she saw my rings. She said, “Poop! Yeah!” and clapped – in a manner remarkably similar to what we said when she made good and we flushed. All I can say now is thank heavens for insurance.
I don’t know what will work with Caroline. She doesn’t like candy or trains, and she doesn’t sit to do anything but color with a permanent marker. She’s willful in a way that makes me want to pull my hair out (too late for that) but that will serve her well later in life. At least that is what Tom and I keep telling ourselves.
I haven’t even started yet but I’m already raising the white flag. I know that 90 percent of potty training a youngster is the change of routine for the parent. Sometimes is it just so much easier to change a diaper than look for the closest available public restroom – especially if you are a family on the go. Add to that the unwillingness of said toddler to be coerced to use the facilities and it is a recipe for disaster. My stamina these days is simply not up to the task. As I said to my neighbor the other afternoon as Caroline threw a full blown hissy fit about having to share a toy, “I’m too old for public tantrums”.
So I keep trying. Keep introducing the Dora panties and the Dora potty seat. She sits for half a second, fully clothed before jumping up and proclaiming “All Done!” Keep cleaning up puddles and piles. Wait a year on the new carpet and furniture. Keep wishing on a star.