“Don’t pee on your cupcakes.”
Sometimes as a mom weird stuff comes out of your mouth. That one was in reference to my daughter keeping the cupcake printed fabric on her new undies dry. This post is going to be full of way too much information. Feel free to stop reading now. Unless you are a foster or adoptive parent on this journey with me (or just the curious but nonjudgmental type), then feel free to commiserate.
We are knee-deep in potty training boot(y) camp over here.
Abby, 2, is doing surprisingly well. Or maybe it just seems easy in comparison.
With Nicholas, 4, is a nightmare, as expected.
I’ve shared before that Nicholas is adopted out of the foster care system. It is very normal for former foster kids to have toileting issues. It is one of the very few things in their lives they have any control over. Logically and professionally I know this. Realistically, it is a gigantic pain in the butt. (Sometimes quite literally for the poor little dude.)
The pediatrician and several psychologists have all said to wait and he will be ready eventually. It’s not considered a delay unless a child is 5 and not toilet trained, but we have already wound up in the hospital and at several appointments, with a GI specialist because our son is anal-retentive. Literally. As in the kid refuses to poop. Which causes all kinds of nasty side effects, like getting impacted to the point that he starts having very painful colon spasms.
Ever had to call a friend to come over and help you give a toddler an enema? Not. Fun.
Thankfully, our preschool allows Pull-ups, but there have been plenty of other activities that we avoid because they require kids to be potty trained by this age.
So you can understand why we were super excited when on our 7-hour trip home from the beach last weekend Nick decided to use the potty at every rest stop and kept his Pull-up dry. I even had the pleasure of balancing 5 months pregnant, squatting in the back seat, and helping him pee in a bottle while we were stuck in a traffic jam. We thought, Hey look, where we are at eventually. He’s ready to get started.
And he is. He can do it. He really doesn’t want to, but he’s ready. Thus begins my nightmare…
Nick fights me hard about anything he doesn’t want to do, potty training being very near the top of the list. (Kids with attachment issues usually take them out on the mother figure.)
He did extremely well yesterday morning. He stayed dry for several hours. I gave him all kinds of praise and decided to take the kids outside to ride their bikes since it was such a beautiful day. Everything was perfect until it was time to go inside and make lunch and try to use the potty again.
Then he bit me in the leg.
Then he punched me in the stomach and rammed into me hard enough to knock me over.
Then he peed in his pants on purpose.
Before the end of the day, I had also been kicked and spit on.
Plus he attacked Abby several times.
The dog didn’t fare much better.
I think that he’s fighting extra hard because we just got back from vacation and he always has a rough time when Eddie has to go back to work after they have a long time together.
Three years in and every time I think we are making progress it seems to start all over. It’s frustrating and depressing and very easy to get caught in the “what am I doing wrong” trap, but it’s not about me.
That’s the hardest part. It might actually be impossible. At least it’s the part we fail at the most often: remaining neutral. Yesterday I was not neutral. There was a lot of yelling going on from both parties. I am always careful not to say anything hurtful. Always phrase sentences to say things like, “You cannot kick mommy. Kicking is bad. (Never “You are bad.”) You cannot hurt mommy’s tummy, it might hurt the baby who lives there right now…” but sometimes they come out much louder and harsher than they should. It always, always makes the situation worse.
At least I know while I’m doing it and I can stop and walk away, which I hate doing because it breaks his little heart and there is nothing I hate more in life than hearing him cry and scream “Mommy, please don’t leave me.” while I walk away because I know I can’t handle it right now. The extra hormones from the pregnancy don’t help much either, but
It’s my job to be stronger than that.
One of my colleagues, another parenting specialist, posted this on Facebook yesterday to promote child abuse prevention. At the time it made me feel terrible because, although I would never behave like the mom in the story, I knew I had lost entirely too much patience with Nicholas, but it is also a sobering reminder of why we are doing what we do:
A child said to his mom, “Mommy, I colored your sheets with lipstick!” In anger, she started to hit her child until he was unconscious. Then, she regretted what she had done and crying said to her child, “Please open your eyes!” But it was too late, his tiny heart had stopped beating. When she walked into her bedroom, the sheet said “I LOVE YOU MOMMY.”
Sometimes Nicholas does frustrating and even bad things. That doesn’t make him a bad kid. It is my job to protect his heart.
Today I will guard it better.
*UPDATE! We did it (x 3)! I wrote a few posts about everything I learned potty training 3 kids. Click the posts below for my favorite tips.