Friday, November 5, 2010

Unsolved Mystery

Lately, our life has revolved around a magical thing called The Potty.

If you listen to people like My Friend, The Nanny, kids eventually just get it. They figure out how to do it, they think it's grand, they pull off the pull-up and they are ready to go.

It happens as if by magic.

The only problem is, in our house, it isn't happening by magic.

Oh, we thought it would. We brought in underpants, we got excited about them, we tried to make them sound awesome. The little one, on the other hand, decided we could pee and poop in 'em. And why not? She doesn't have to clean them.

Then we figured we'd let it happen naturally at the day care. She'd move up to preschool, and all the other kids would be in underpants, and she'd want to be a big kid.

Didn't happen.

Then new, younger kids moved in, and we thought being a "big kid" might make a difference. Perhaps she'd learn to use the potty just to show the other kids how it's done.


We tried a sticker system, which lasted for ten minutes, because she tore the special chart off the wall. Not on purpose. She just wanted to look at it. She didn't seem to understand what it was for.

And all the while, she kept getting better at the MECHANICS of the potty.

She can pull down her own pull-up. She can wipe herself, when poop isn't involved. She can wash her own hands, and use soap, and dry herself off.

And in the last four or five weeks, she seems to have gotten to a point where she can actually hold in her pee, instead of just letting it out in drips and drabs throughout the day.

Which is certainly an important step.

She's finally, finally, finally learning to put all her pee and poop in the potty, and I'm going to tell you how that's happening:

It's called The Treat Tin.

What's in the Tin? Candy. Lots of different kinds of candy, collected over time, given to us at birthday parties, at day care, and pretty much any time someone encountered us and thought we had a cute kid who needed a treat.

That Tin has all the power in the universe. And I think the reason it works is that it's not all the SAME candy. Whereas we played this game once before with M and Ms, she eventually realized that she was always gonna get a little hunk o' chocolate if she went on the porcelain throne.

So if she didn't want chocolate, well, feh. Why bother?

This feeds into my other theory, which not everyone in the household agrees with: I think our kid has refused to potty train because she realizes it's a bad deal.

Right now, if she's playing, or reading a book, or watching a movie, and she has to go? She can just go. There's nothing to stop her. She can void herself and just keep on having fun. She knows that's an awesome deal many adults would kill for.

(If you don't believe me, Google the Bleacher Buddy.)

But since there's a treat at the end of the tunnel, she races up the stairs, and voids her bladder, and runs downstairs because she knows some variety of candy, maybe one she's never had before, is totally on tap, and she is PUMPED.

Just last week, I got her through an entire day in a single pull-up, because every time she felt an urge, she knew a reward was waiting for her.

Which brings us to "The Mystery" in question.

Generally, when I'm in the shower in the morning, the little one occupies herself with something from our DVD collection. VeggieTales, Elmo, Dora, and lately Charlie Brown. She has some juice, she wakes up (she's not very good at that, just like everyone else in this house) and it gives her a chance to mellow before school starts.

Meanwhile, Kara is upstairs if there's an urgent need. Granted, Kara is asleep, but she would wake up if there was screaming or a loud crash.

At any rate.

On this morning, Kara was already at work. I went into the shower. I got out of the shower. And there was Mihret, with a big grin on her face.

"I went poop! Can I have a treat?" she asked.

Here's the issue: Mihret doesn't poop alone. She can pee alone, because she can take care of all the extra business that goes with it. But poop is another matter. We've had poop dropped on the floor and tracked around accidentally during poop alone time, so we carefully monitor her during such times now, and perform all wiping duties.

And I know her teachers give her a hand during these times as well.

So... I thought she might have been lying to me. Or, worse, had done horrible things in the upstairs bathroom even as I cleansed myself.

I checked her hands. I smelled her fingers. No poop.

I went upstairs and checked the floor, the toilet seat, and the box of moist wipes. All seemed to be clean, unused, and in order.

The only thing that indicated my wee one HAD been in the upstairs bathroom was her little stool, which she stands on when washing her hands. It had been moved in front of the sink, indicating that she had, at the very least, washed her hands while I was cleaning myself up.

I asked if she didn't just go pee. She insisted there was poop. Later than night, I asked her again if she went poop today, and she said she did. When I asked if it was before school or during school, she said, before.

Ultimately, I had to trust the little one, and gave her the treat she requested. But now I'm trying to figure out if there's some way to add a potty-verification system to the upstairs bathroom.

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