Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Potty Diaries

After months of dancing around the potty training issue, crossing our fingers, praying that our preschooler would just magically walk up to us some day and say "Yes, Mother and Father, I do believe that I may need to use the facilities", we have finally had to bite the proverbial bullet and start official potty training.

Initially, sometime last summer when we thought it might be coming up soon in our toddler's development, we did what all over-educated, over-zealous parents do. We started reading lots of books about potty training. So for the last several weeks/months we have done multiple potty training techniques in the hopes that something would "stick" and we would somehow have potty trained our child without much effort. We had done the M&Ms, the stickers, the stickers that go on a chart and lead to a reward, and the training pants. We had done variations of potty apparatus - the singing potty chair (no joke), the padded seat, the stool, and the plain ol' potty all by itself. Needless to say, nothing has really clicked for our boy.

He'd much prefer to pee in his diaper and continue playing on the floor than to be bothered sitting on the potty. I'm told this is common. But he's three. And I feel like he has ALL these reasons to be potty trained. Or maybe it's just me who has all these reasons. You know, because diapers are expensive, because we have all these activities this summer, because I hate our diaper genie, because most of our friends kids are around the same age and potty trained, etc. And also because it's clear to me that he knows HOW to do it, he'd just prefer not to.

So this weekend, we decided to celebrate the National holiday by learning to use the potty. I found a book ("That's How I Roll by Rachel Jacques") that talks about wearing cartoon underwear as an incentive for using the potty. Essentially, you start out with super cool cartoon underwear and explain that Spiderman (or whoever) hates to get wet or dirty and if they get wet or dirty they have to come off and you have to wear plain underwear until after a certain time when you can try again. There's a few more detail than that but that's the technique in a nutshell. I knew the cartoon underwear would be a winning enticement for Ben so we decided to give it a try.

Day 1 - So far so good. We wore Mr. Incredible underwear all day long. Many trips have been made to the potty and multiple M&Ms have been earned. We even wore underwear at nap time and stayed dry. This may or may not be attributable to the fact that we also did not sleep during nap but just laid in our bed talking. The only negative so far is that no poop has occurred. There have been several times when it seemed like we were on the verge and would run the kid to the potty but nothing would happen. It's somewhat unclear at this point if this is because he doesn't want to go in the potty or if he is physically stopped up. Currently he is in bed in his undies and we are crossing our fingers to make it through the night without a major incident (though I think this is highly unlikely given it's our first night without a diaper - EVER!).

Day 2 - Woke up soaked. Ben was discouraged. Poop made an appearance finally and NOT in the potty. Mommy was discouraged too. But we stayed dry all day and managed to make a few pee stops and stay in our Super Hero undies once we got them back after nap time. We also slept during nap and managed to stay dry!

Day 3 - Woke up soaked again. Ben appears surprised by this every time so I think he must be a heavy sleeper. Dry again almost the whole day. Called Grandma and Nana and Poppa to share our successes and reap the rewards (Spider-man toy is on it's way in the snail mail). Put in time out for misbehavior and while in time out, he peed his pants. Took him upstairs to change and set him on the potty. While I was getting dry clothes, he pooped! Finally discovered what may be the secret to pooping on the potty = privacy! Who would have thought?

At the end of the weekend we had only had two actual accidents. I would call us "potty trained". He has even told me when we were out that he needed to use the potty. But, he still cannot stay dry at night. The book says to wait a full week until going back to pull-ups so I think we will keep trying. I am not sure what to do if dryness doesn't happen though. He's so "anti-diaper" at this point and SO proud of his success, I am sure it would feel like a step backwards to put on a pull-up.

UPDATE: Today (Thursday) we woke up dry! Out of the blue! I hope we can keep it up. It will be a week on Saturday and I am kind of tired of washing sheets twice daily.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I hate school

I didn't used to hate school. I used to love it. I was an honor roll student who loved my classes and most of my teachers. I loved reading and learning. I loved the sense of accomplishment from studying and doing well on exams. I particularly enjoyed knowing the information and having the correct answer when I was called on.

I wanted my son to love school as I did. I wanted him to have great experiences. To make friends and to learn all kinds of new things. When the school year started out, that seemed to be the path we were on. But as the year progressed, things took an odd turn. He stared to become less excited for school. Less interested in the activities. In making friends. In seeing his teachers. In leaving the house.

Thinking back to the beginning of the year, when Lightening McQueen was the object of our obsession, I remember him saying "Jacob and Hank say these are stupid cars". I remember my ire at these little boys for calling something my son loved so dearly "stupid". I remember my husband reassuring me that it was probably a comment taken out of context and that it might have been unrelated to the beloved Mater and McQueen but, in fact, other cars entirely. So, I brushed it under the rug and tried not to obsess about it too greatly. 

Over the year, things changed. The kids in his class changed - some left and new ones came. The dynamics changed. My son's love of Lightening McQueen dissipated and morphed in to a love of all things superhero. I also noticed a change in behavior. Along with the third birthday came more limit testing, more button pushing, more aggression. I was told at school on a few occasions that he had hit another kid. My initial reaction was "normal 3 year old boy" and "it's a stage" and "he'll grow out of it" like so many other stages. But in the last few weeks, getting him to go to school has been harder and harder. It has become obvious that he is having conflicts with these two other little boys. It is unclear whether he is the instigator of these conflicts or if they are, but there is definitely something happening. My little buddy who was so secure and self-reliant has become clingy. He has started asking us to stay with him when he goes to bed at night. He has started waking in the night and calling for us. He cries when we take him to school and says "I hate school" and "I hate the other kids. They are not my friends". My heart broke for him.

I blamed the superheros. Wrong or right, I saw them as the most recent variable in our lives and the possible source for all of this aggression. All of these discussions of "bad guys" and fighting. I blamed my husband for not being stricter with him. For not setting limits and sticking to them. For making me the bad guy who has to explain that we don't hit people. I blamed his school for not telling me that he was struggling. That he was having a problem. That maybe one or two of the other boys in school were bullying him or that he might be bullying them. But most of all, I blamed myself. For not being more attentive. For spending so much time with his sister and not seeing that he was having a rough time. For maybe sending him to school before he was really ready and not keeping him safe at home where no one can call what he likes "stupid". 

And now school is over. School is out for the summer and while I can breathe a little easier knowing that I won't have to fight him on a regular basis about going, I still have a pit in my stomach because I don't really know what the problem is. And therein lies my dilemma - if I don't know the problem, how can I fix it? How can I make it so he likes school again? How can I change his perception of school from being something negative that we HAVE to do to being something positive that he really enjoys?

I have talked to his teachers who seem surprised that he isn't having a good time in class. I have talked with other parents who assure me that it's "not a big deal" and "all kids have issues like this sometimes" and "it will pass". And maybe they are right, maybe it will. Maybe it's just part of development and growing as a person and learning who you are. I've gone so far as to make an appointment with his teacher for next year to talk over the summer so I can get her impressions and give her a heads up as to what we have been working on at home (it helps that she's a friend and someone I already kind of know). I've scheduled more play dates and signed up for other activities so I can see him interacting with other kids first hand. But, after all of this - I still don't know if any of it will make a difference. I guess I'm not really a fan of school when I no longer know the right answer.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Danger, Will Robinson!

I must apologize to anyone who visited my blog these last few days and saw the google warning. Apparently, my adorable free template also could have possibly contained malware. Perhaps that's why it was free? Hence the change in appearance. It's still a work in progress but I think it's much safer to stick with the templates provided on blogger for now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wild Thing

I saw something the other day that said "Boy: noun, a noise with dirt on it" Boys are hard. They just are. They seem louder, more rambunctious, more energetic than little girls. I continually feel like my patience is being stretched to it's limits. I worry that I am too quick to react. To snap. To say "NO!" when it doesn't necessarily have to be said.

Lately we have been having days that feel like a constant push-pull tug of war. A battle of wills between mother and son. Initially, I blamed the little sister. I assumed that the interloper was causing all sorts of disruption in the life of my precious child and that could be the only reason he'd suddenly become such a handful. So, I scheduled more one on one time with him. I arranged fun outings, just him and I. I tried to make sure that we would have a few minutes of "just us" time on any given day. And sometimes it seemed to help. Other days, it's like feeding a starving monster. No matter how much attention I try to give, he always wants more. I can never seem to fill him up and he still acts out whether or not he's given attention.

I've run out of ideas. I am wearing a groove in the time out chair. I am tired of constantly repeating myself. My son is probably tired of being yelled at all of the time. And worse, I know he knows when I am exasperated. I know that when I let out a huge sigh of frustration, whether I say anything or not, it's not lost on him. It's not the same as when he was younger and he probably didn't attribute my bad attitude to his misbehavior. These days when I am short and snappish with him because I am asking him not to do something for the 1,000th time, he says "say it nicer" or "don't use that voice" and I know that he's right. It hurts me to think that I might be making him feel bad or hurting his feelings. I want him to learn, but I don't want that lesson to cost him self-esteem. I'm worn out. Sometimes I want to just call a "time-out" on the back and forth and declare a truce for an afternoon. No misbehavior from him and no yelling from me. A peace treaty. I wonder if that's possible.