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Day Five. The learning process is never linear. I know this. We have experienced regressions during sleep training, during our early potty experiences, with daycare drop-offs, when introducing solids, and most recently, when transitioning Oliver from two naps to one.
Nonetheless, this evening’s events have left me feeling more deflated than elated.
To be fair, the day started out wonderfully. Upon waking, and after nursing, Oliver asked to use the potty. He went (prompted by J) before breakfast, and was able to make it through the whole meal without a potty break.
After breakfast, J took Oliver to playtime at a nearby community centre. I forewarned him that Oliver had not been keen to use the toilets at the Y the previous afternoon, and that he might meet with some resistance. Sure enough, Oliver refused to even sit on the toilet at the community centre, let alone pee, so J brought him home an hour later. Fortunately, Oliver was able to hold it until they returned, and he did not have an accident.
I left for the gym and J fed Oliver lunch. While J was cleaning up from lunch, Oliver was running around, then suddenly stopped and said, “Potty.” J helped him to the potty, where Oliver produced, in J’s proud words, “a truly magnificent turd” (TMI? :)). Evidently this was so exciting that J was going to text me at the gym (hopefully not accompanied by a photo), but later decided against it (phew!).
By the time Oliver woke from his nap, we were all feeling really good about Oliver’s progress, especially on the poop front — two days of drama-free, self-initiated poops!
Later, we went to the Y for playtime. Oliver asked for the potty, so I took him to the washroom. Once inside, he started saying, “no, no, no.” I put him on the toilet (with his seat insert) and crouched down and sang some songs to him, to try to get him to relax and pee. He refused to pee; however, he’d not had any water since his nap and had peed before we left the apartment, so it was reasonable to think that maybe he didn’t have to go. Usually he likes to help flush the toilet, but this time he did not want to press the button, nor did he even want me to do it. I began to wonder if he was afraid of the loud flush.
Oliver drank about half a cup of water during playtime. When playtime was over (about an hour since he’d last peed) we went back to the washrooms. We had to wait several minutes for a free room. When we got inside, I thought it might be a good idea for me to pee first, to show Oliver that it was okay and not scary. This turned out to be a bad idea, as he peed his pants while I was going. Lesson learned: let the toddler go first if he’s been waiting a while!
I felt that he still had more pee to do, but he was crying and wouldn’t go on the toilet, so I told him, “Hold your pee-pee until we get home.” I changed his pants and quickly rushed home. When we arrived back home, he’d had a small dribble in his pants, but I took him to the potty and he peed right away. I had the sense that there was more to come, but Oliver was pretty discombobulated and would not sit back down on his potty after the first bit of pee. I took him with me into my bathroom so that I could use the toilet, and while we were in there, he peed his pants again! We went back to his room, he peed a bit more on the potty, and then I changed his pants.
We started to play, and not five minutes later, he started crying. He had peed his pants again! I took him back into his bathroom, closed the door, and told him that we needed to make more pee before playing. We hung out in the bathroom for about 10 minutes, and he finally sat down and made a substantial pee. I was fairly certain this was the rest of it.
Oliver seemed very hungry and tired, so J and I decided to feed him an early dinner and put him to bed early. As there had been a lot of pee in the last hour — quite disproportionate to the amount of fluids he’d taken in — we decided he should use the potty in the middle of supper. Too late, he had already peed his pants — again. Five accidents in the span of less than two hours. This was more accidents than he’d had in the previous four days combined!
We changed his pants and helped him finish his supper. He peed (in the potty) several more times both during and after his meal. He just seemed to have a ridiculous amount of pee this evening, and we’re not sure why.
Finally, we got Oliver ready for bed. He nursed, peed one more time in the potty, and then we put his overnight diaper on him. Even though he was clearly exhausted, it took him more than an hour to fall asleep. His sleep has been “off” ever since we started potty training. He seems simultaneously over-stimulated and exhausted, and this has resulted in longer than normal transitions from wake to sleep, and even a couple of night wakings that have required parental intervention.
My thoughts at the end of this trying day:
1. Although I am feeling somewhat discouraged by this evening’s events, I realize that this entire fiasco took place in less than two hours of what was otherwise a truly excellent day.
2. A regression is not the end of the world. It is a natural part of the learning process. It was something I expected, and it does not by any means suggest that he’s “not getting it” or is “not ready” for potty training. He has had four and a half amazing days, during which he has shown an ability to recognize his need to pee or poop, to hold it for short periods of time, and to ask for the potty or move towards it on his own. We will move on and continue to build on his successes.
3. The poop drama seems to be over, at least for the time being, and that’s a huge deal.
4. We will need to come up with some ways to resolve Oliver’s sudden reluctance (fear?) to use public toilets. This seems to have been the root of both yesterday’s and today’s accidents. As an aside, I can totally empathize with this issue, as I was terrified of public toilets as a kid — a fear that I did not fully overcome until I was in my twenties. I think I’ve been really good at conveying a relaxed vibe when we’re using strange toilets, despite the fact that I am a total germaphobe and nothing icks me out more than a public toilet, but maybe not? Maybe he’s picking up on something?
5. I’m not sure exactly what was behind this evening’s episode of resistance/regression, and I may never know, but I can tell from Oliver’s general crankiness and tiredness that there is a lot of learning and development going on right now. It’s all good stuff.
Day Six. Today was a new day, free from yesterday evening’s baggage.
This morning I decided to reduce the supervision and prompting, and begin to hand over more responsibility to Oliver. After breakfast, while I was vacuuming — not watching or listening to him at all — Oliver walked over to me and said, “Potty.” I helped him to the potty and he pooped! He very easily could have hidden behind the room divider and pooped in his pants, but he actually came to me and interrupted my vacuuming to let me know he had to go!
Oliver’s reluctance to use public toilets is becoming a “thing.” He will sit on the toilet (unwillingly and unhappily) for five or more minutes, but simply refuses to pee. I’ve tried singing songs, being silly to make him laugh, bribing him with toilet paper (a new parenting low ;)), sitting behind him on the toilet seat and holding him securely, enticing him with talk of whatever activity we are going to do after peeing… but he just won’t relax enough to let go. He wouldn’t pee at Whole Foods today (which he’s done before with no problem), nor in the toilet at the restaurant where we ate lunch. Bummer.
Oliver’s pee frequency has begun to decrease. He is sitting through entire meals (30 to 45 minutes) without needing a potty break. We’ve stopped bringing the potty out to the dining room. We had two outings today (60 to 90 minutes each) and even though he would not use the toilets while we were out, on both occasions he was able to hold his pee until we got home.
J and I have decided to keep Oliver out of daycare again tomorrow, as we would prefer that he have another five days of confidence-building and skill reinforcement under his belt than to experience a potentially huge setback at daycare. We also need to work on his reluctance to use toilets outside the home, since daycare success will depend on that.
Guess what — today was our first day being accident-free! Hooray!