Monday, September 1, 2008

On his own time, or, the perils of poop

*While I want to write about our trip to the North Channel, and I will, I have been stuck in bed (for a week!!) with the crud, and so this is more along the lines of what I've been feeling:)

I have this reoccurring dream, where I am sitting on the floor between two enormously pooped-in diapers. It’s graphic: one has a tennis ball size poo, the other is oozing onto the carpet, a sweet orange breast milk river that toppled over its banks. I am trying to change both, fighting two sets of failing legs, attempting not to gag or get dung of either variety all over me. It’s a nightmare of, well, poopy proportions.

Oh, wait.

I’m not sleeping.

I have declared my house a full on poop wasteland folks. And I’m waving the white flag of defeat.

Once upon a time, Max was almost potty trained. And then came Lizzie. When we said hello to baby sister, we summarily said goodbye to the toilet. At first, I assumed it was just a phase.

“Leave him be,” became my mantra to all who antagonized my weeping puddle of a three year-old. With every, “Max, do you have to go pee-pee?” or “Max, why are you grunting? Let’s go potty,” came a shriek and banshee-worthy cry from the child who was already walking around yelling “I been dethroned! I been de-th-th-th-roooooooned!” It made sense to me, to Dr. Sears, to Peggy O’Mara, to just about everyone who knows anything about child rearing, that this was simply a little glitch in the giddy-up, an expression of a little boy who was searching for his new role in the family.

Of, course, Dr. Sears does not know Max.

Ah, Max. He is an incredible force of energy. His smile (that oh so devious and disarming smile) is enough to make every female from age three to 100 melt, myself included. I could write forever about the Maxism’s that I get to hear each day:

“Mama, I need my cape. You’re never fully dressed without a cape” (or Viking hat, or owl mask, or knight shield, depending on the day….and yes, we went through a watch Annie ten times a week phase, if the above phrase sounded vaguely familiar).

Me: “Max, come over here please.
Max: “Can’t mama. I’m heading to South America.
Me: “South America? What for?
Max: good tacos.

“I’m just saying mom, (palms held up in the air in that ‘well duh’ fashion) if I were an elephant, I would totally pick stuff up with my nose to eat it.”

Where Noah is my thinker, and Lizzie is my appendage, Max is this concoction of a shaken up pop bottle, a shot of nitrous, and a dose of radiant life rolled into one little toddler body. But he also has a huge helping of holy hell stubbornness in him ( I have no idea where that comes from) that adds the following phrases to his favorite vocabulary choices:
“Nope. I don’t think so. Well, thing is…. Not a good idea. I choose no way. Nuh-uh. NO. I don’t waaaaaaant to.”

And my personal favorite, “You can’t make me go!”

He grunts this, obviously, as he is squatting in some corner, butt high in the air, face red.

The anti-potty has become a sticking point. No negotiations (Max, if you go potty on the potty, you can buy all the glow in the dark underwear you want); no reward system (we tried that, and after five times and one Playmobile airplane, he looked at me and said, “I got my prize. Pull-ups, please”); or even sad reality checks (Max, you cannot go to preschool with Josie and Cal next week if you don’t pee and poop on the pot) have made a dent in our need to stock size 3-4 T training pants.

In fact, the more he hears anyone say “go on the potty,” the more he resists. We now are literally on the enema-a-week plan, which inevitably produces terds that have been known to require the toilet be plunged for over an hour. Okay, too much information. But still. For anyone who has been this road before, you know how hard it is to hear your child wake up and say, “uh-oh, it isn’t enema day, is it?”

Through a blur of tears, I looked at my pediatrician desperately a few weeks ago, recounting how “he doesn’t even care if he’s got dookie in his pants. How do you train someone to go on the toilet that looks at you with something that resembles a rabbit tail sticking out of his rear, and says with a smile, “oh, I’m fine.” I went on to blubber about how this whole thing must be my fault, “I should have given him more attention. When Liz was born, I went into the abyss of nursing and didn’t come out…I pushed him. He’s constantly constipating because I pushed or I didn’t protect him enough when everyone else pushed...”

“I’m a horrible mother and my son will never have a normal bowel movement because of me,” I found myself wailing.

My doctor responded with a chuckle and a shrug. “Do you see lots of kids in middle school or high school wearing diapers?”

I said, “well, no,” although I was secretly picturing Max at 16, coming home from soccer practice in a gigantic pull-up. Oh, God.

“He’ll go when he’s ready. On his own time. Don’t push and don’t fret, because after all, you can’t make him.”

Hmmm. I never thought pooping in your pants could become a source of parental zen-like philosophy. And I’ll be honest folks, when I’m elbow deep in two dirty diapers all I can think is, no matter how you slice it, this just stinks.

**let it be noted, I had to stop to change diapers four times while writing this post!


womaninawindow said...

um, OK, I've stopped laughing now. Not laughing at you, laughing WITH you. He sounds like a marvelous source of entertainment.

Oh, maybe all of his costumes can be packed away very carefully and deliberatly into a suitcase and just, you know, put away on a top shelf or in the attic until he's old enough. I hear dress-up is for big kids. I know, I know, it's all befuddled but I'm afraid I would do it very casually while he watched while shaking on my insides. I play hardball!

Anonymous said...

yay! i had a dream i would wake up to a new blankie chronicle in my inbox:)
love it! love it! xoxo, chelsnelsfive:)

Madeline said...

At least it sounds like he can keep you laughing through all those poopy diaper changes! You've got a real comedian there. Very cute!

Lindsay said...

Well I'm glad I'm not the ONLY one who has a hard time getting their own mothers to watch their GRANDKIDS!! That's a whole other post...

I'm glad you're back! I kept checking and you were still on blog "vacation." :)

Sometimes I think the smarter the child, the harder it is to potty train them, for real. I've got the same thing going on over here, only she's a girl and I didn't just have a baby!! Stinker.

Laurie Rodak said...

I can't wait to hear about your trip to the North Channel.

I could read a book about Maxism's, those are hilarious!

Midwest Mom said...

Glad you're back!

Our own "potty perils" continue. The latest was this weekend, when "I don't WANT to go potty!" was being screamed in the downstairs bathroom (you didn't hear it?) even though my daughter had insisted upon going! I finally realized, she wasn't talking to me. She was screaming at her own body! (Believe it.)

Once I sympathized appropriately, (I think I said something like, yeah, it comes out whether you want it to or not) the screaming stopped and she turned human again.

What planet are our toddlers from?? ;) Glad you have a sense of humor about it -- these days, that's my only defense!


Kathryn said...

It all sounds soooo familiar to me. I live in a poop filled house, for sure!

Mekhismom said...

Wow! I love the "Max" isms. He certainly is a willful child. Did he actually run around screaming "i've been dethroned?" You have a little genius on your hands and eventually he will get tired of poo filled diapers and enemas. I don't have any experience in this area so I can't offer advice but hope the support works just as well.

Cecily R said...

First of all, you are a fantastic writer. Secondly, you are dang funny.

And last. My ten year old was like Max. I was a basket case about him. Tried everything in the books and parenting magazines and and and...

Until I finally gave up. Your doc is right. He went when he was ready. But he was nearly four. Like a month from four. And he looked 5. So it was always fun in public.

Good luck. And thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Amy Hanek said...

Been there. Done that. It'll pass (no pun intended... well maybe a little bit intended).

Each of my kids have had their poop AND pee moments. My youngest is in second grade and she still wets the bed more nights than not. I've been "letting her be" for quite a while now.

Last year I finally broke down and bought overnites for her. She hates to wear them and has become very careful about her pre-bedtime drinks, for her own sake. Ya gotta love it when they grow up, just a little.

My kids used to live in costumes. We used to live near Disney World and went there all the time. One day my daughter would be Cinderella and another she would be Snow White. My son favored Robin Hood.

52 Faces said...

My gawd that is hilarious - the first picture is worth more than a thousand indeed!

Thanks for dropping by 52 Faces!

abbyjess said...

Your son sounds like a riot. Judging from the way my son has met all of his other milestones, I'll be in the same boat when it's time to potty train him. BTW, you're not the only writing about potty training today. Check out this other post I was reading today.

Robyn said...

Welcome back — even if it is to a poop-filled real life. Each time I checked for a new post, I remembered how jealous I was of your trip. But I have to say I am not jealous of your crud. Hope that waited until you returned. I almost lost my dinner reading this with a combination of laughing and gagging. Thanks for sharing.

MamaGeek said...

Girl, I share the dream! This was delicious and I must confess I'VE FEARED THE POTTY TRAINING STAGE even before getting preggo. Oy.

angie said...

Oh my gosh. I'm so glad I found your blog. It is apparent that I got exceptionally lucky with easy potty trainers.....I absolutely loved you whole post, but two parts were spectacular...."Where Noah is my thinker, and Lizzie is my appendage, Max is this concoction of a shaken up pop bottle, a shot of nitrous, and a dose of radiant life rolled into one little toddler body. But he also has a huge helping of holy hell stubbornness in him" and the end where you said, "no still stinks". Good luck! I'm definitely coming back. Love your prose......and the fact that you look like me! :)

Sus said...

oh, kate. hey, at least it's good fodder, right? Lizzie is my appendage - that is wonderful. So, so glad you're back. I needed my blankie chronicles fix.

A few responses:
- Frannie just got Annie for her birthday. Can't wait to hear what's she's never fully dressed without.
- an enema a week? seriously? cal's been on stool softeners for much of his little life, but enemas? i'm so sorry.
- do you really refer to it as dookie? i like it.
- i don't really have advice. but when i was training frannie (which i totally forced by the way) someone reminded me how gross it is to sit in wet jeans for a while - just 4 or 5 minutes, say. it was a pearl of wisdom that took us far. but somehow i bet men wouldn't care about sitting in wet jeans as much as women.
- look at all your comments! you are so popular! glad you're getting some recognition. i'm going to click on all these responders. goodness knows if they like you they have some taste.

oh! and to put a picture in your sidebar, go to Layout and click Add a Gadget. Scroll down to add a picture, or a picture and text. That should get you started.

Sus said...

hey, btw, do you feel like guest posting for me while i'm in belgium? we leave tomorrow. it just occurred to me to get somebody to fill in for me. :) no worries if you're up to your armpits in poop.

Sus said...

um, yes, it's a convoluted story about how we had a bunch of frequent flyer miles that were going to expire and my husband and his obsession with formula one racing and yada yada yada. whatever you just spent a month on a boat in canada. :)

i um have no idea how you guest post.

we'll have spotty internet access because we're dorky that way and will walk across town for an internet cafe, so what if you wrote something and sent it to me at and I put it up?

Sus said...

thanks Kate! hope i'm not shooting myself in the foot; you're so good i will lose all my readers to you. Now get some sleep. :) i may stay up. B's theory is that if we don't sleep tonight, we'll be tired enough to sleep on the plane tomorrow. i'm not so sure that adds up, but at this point, it looks like i'm in.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Oh my gosh, your description of him reminds me so much of my zip... and that smile... I recognize it. Stubborn but delicious. I feel for you. I'm ready to be done with diapers too... I just keep reminding myself, this too shall pass.

slouching mom said...

Heh. My mother always used to say that no one goes to college wearing diapers. And I think I've internalized that statement for many of the battlegrounds in childhood, including toileting, but also food, sleep, etc.

Janet said...

My son took his sweet time to train as well. Like you, I think it was the sudden arrival of his sister, when he was 26 monmths old, that put the potty love on hold. He dug in, I was too tired to fight, and the months ticked by. Eventually something happens, some intrinsic motivator occurs, and they decide it's time. It will happen. Until then, you want that I should send you some rubber gloves and air freshener? ;)

Damselfly said...

I can't offer advice because we're not really there yet (although my son has gone on the potty). But I just wanted to say the image you depicted of your son in giant pullups was way funny!

Mandy said...

...I want to go get tacos too!!!!

anyway, as a mother of a boy who will be four in 14 days who is still not completely potty trained ... THANK YOUR for writing this ... b/c I anticipate my son going to prom in a pull up:)

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:

Astarte said...

I agree with your doctor, but you poor, poor woman. That's a lot of shedoobie!!!!!

Patrick did something similar, but not because I had another baby. I have no idea why, actually. He just went from going on the potty to... not going on the potty, very adamantly. When presented with preschool, however, he started going, because his friends at school were going, so he did too. Thankfully, he went to the most wonderful preschool then, with loving people who said it was fine for him to start in pullups because he would do what the other kids did, and they were right.

Currently, I'm telling myself the same thing about his 'R's. No one graduated high school saying 'Weh's the paint woller, mama? I want to paint a wacecahh.' It's like living with Elmer Fudd, I swear.

Perksofbeingme said...

Wow. I found your post through five star friday and I truly feel for you. I can only imagine how insane you feel, but I agree with what the doctor has said, that it'll come when it comes. Max sounds hilarious!

Pamela said...

My daughter was very similar to your Max. Right down to the enema. And my pediatrician said the same thing, "They don't go to college wearing diapers or using binkies. Don't fight this fight, because you will loose 100% of the time."

So I fought the "Biting My Tongue" battle, and I eventually won.

Hang in there.

patsyrose said...

What a wonderful surprise to find such a talented writer by accident!

Heather of the EO said...

Oh yes. The two things little boys can control. The potty and the eating. SO frustrating. The stubborn and smart ones catch on to that all too quickly.

This exact thing happened to my sister, enemas and all. Her fire cracker of a boy is five and is doing great! At the time, it seemed it would never get better.

I hope it clears up quickly for you (pun intended)

megan said...

you are AMAZING and HILARIOUS!!! i wish i could say that i can relate and that i have been there and that it's all going to be just fine any day now. but i have no freaking clue about these things. in fact, i am favoriting this exact post so that someday down the road, when elias is running through the house with his bob the builder underwear full of crap, i can find this and read it and sigh a sigh of relief.....bc, although he is only 20 mos. now, he is as stubborn as a bull and i can forsee such a happening, ESPECIALLY if there were to ever be an arrival of a sibling.....i have never met that little max but he cracks me up and i can tell that although stubborn and perhaps a little stinky, he is an extreme delight to your mothering soul!!!

Jen said...

omg - so much poop! it's making me think long and hard about whether to have another baby now or wait a while yet... :D

Zip n Tizzy said...

Just coming back to tell you I think you're brilliant and said so on Zip n Tizzy awards.
Hope the poop thing's working itself out!

Sus said...

kate! i'm glad you're back! i was a little worried about you, like if my sister doesn't call for a week. :) Hope school's going well and your computer wasn't a complete loss. Write for us again soon!

iheartchocolate said...

My daughter, just turned 3 and has yet to poop on the pot. WHAT is it? Why, I just don't understand why...Glad to know I am not alone.

Also, don't snip till you're ready. I did and I regret it, although I may have regret it more if I hadn't, that..I will never know. That's the sad part.