The frustration can be immense if your kid can’t seem to grasp the concept. This is made much worse by people who claim that their 2-year-old is fully potty trained and even wakes up in the night to go relieve themselves. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Joan, Stevie has never wet the bed or his pants. He’s able to wipe himself correctly, flushes the toilet and washes his hands with a normal amount of hand soap.” (Chortle, chortle)
Comparison is the root of all evil when it comes to parenting. Like it or not we all want to be the parent whose kid just gets this, because who wants to be the one watching your child clutch its groin assuring you it doesn’t need to pee? The articles warn us not to mentally damage our children by bringing shame to them in public when they have an ‘accident’ but this is easier said than done.
My son didn’t have ‘accidents’ – he had ‘deliberates’. I was convinced he held in the pee to humiliate me in public. Groin clutch, head shaking, darker pants. The trifecta of a wonderful luncheon. So, I’d take him to the bathroom and discover that not only did I leave the scented plastic bags at home, but I forgot a change of clothes too. Then inevitably I would bump into a girl I went to school with who didn’t yet have the blessing of a child. They never said as much, but I could sense the judgement as my son walked past using my upside-down jersey as a pair of temp genie pants.
Now those of us who have been down this long and winding road know that the pee is one thing, but the dreaded number two is quite another. We can all handle a little pee, it the lesser evil, innocuous even, but no one wants to handle the poop, poop is never inoffensive. And let’s face it, it could be in 1 of 400 different conditions when you eventually get to it. Solid, not solid, contained, not contained, brown, green, the options are endless.
My dear boy decided to hold in his poop during the potty-training stage and got constipated. This is not uncommon. Stool withholding is actually A THING.
According to The Mayo Clinic, “Many toddlers begin holding in bowel movements because they had one that was painful and fear the same thing could happen again. This triggers a difficult cycle. As stool sits in the rectum, water from the stool is reabsorbed, making the stool harder. It also becomes larger as more stool enters the rectum. When it does pass, a large, hard stool may cause a fissure, anal tearing or rectal bleeding and additional pain, leading the child to be more afraid of bowel movements. As a result, the child will develop continued stool withholding and even worse constipation.”
So, by the time the poop came out, it was so sore that he basically refused to go again. He blamed the toilet for the pain. And so if I wanted him to poop, I would have to stand behind him, in the lounge, with my toilet paper or wet-wipe and catch whatever came out of his bum. In his mind, if he wasn’t near a toilet, it wouldn’t hurt.
The real low point was when I had to do this little manoeuvre in a public bathroom, in a farmyard, in the Midlands, with a queue of people outside waiting, both of us crouching.
We tried everything to make the toilet seem safe, to de-demonise the potty.
My husband built a cardboard rocket around the toilet to encourage him to try again. But he didn’t take the bait. We would sing, march and dance around him. For the first time in our marriage, we left doors open to encourage healthy toilet behaviour. “Even the queen goes once a day, son.”, we would tell him.
By this point, I was the one getting mentally damaged and my boy seemed fine, well except the whole pooping into paper enrobed hands.
I resigned myself to this being the rest of my life. At 16 he would call me over, drop his pants and assume the position. I saw no end to the madness. Until some little troll from his class gave me a gift I could never repay. He bullied my kid about his odd toilet behaviour and shamed him into conforming. I know I should not be thankful (even in my own head) to someone for bullying my child but I am. Do not judge me until your child has pooped into your outstretched hands.
From that day to this, we all use the toilets for their correct purpose, I am able to shut the door again and the romance has returned to my marriage.
Allison is a wife, mother and full-time employee who does a lot on the side. She tries to run her life with humour, but at times finds adulting a proper challenge and not so humorous. Ironically enough, this is when she writes the most. Her passions include her faith, her friendships, baking and loving animals that others might battle to love. She loves being a mom but works because she enjoys the balance of doing both and handling the very different challenges they both bring.