I always knew that Gracie would be the first one to start potty training. When she was 4 months old, she started to hit developmental milestones a few weeks before Lucas. Since then, she seems to do things first and Lukie is a few days or weeks behind.
That the teachers told us she was ready for panties came as a bit of a surprise, but I did not question them. Unfortunately, they spend more time with her than I get to, so they had a better idea of her readiness. Apparently, she has been doing very well at school. She comes home dry and wearing the same panties we sent her in (well, except one day). She does well with Abue Rosi and going to the potty there.
It's using the bathroom at home that is not going well.
Gracie absolutely does not like me reminding her about going to the bathroom. She doesn't want me asking, doesn't want me telling her to go, and certainly will not admit that she needs to go. I'll ask her gently, "Gracie, do you need to go potty in the toilet?" "Gracie, remember, there's a bathroom in this store. Let me know if you need to go and I'll take you!" "Gracie, hold the potty in your vagina until you get to the bathroom." (P.S. I know it isn't in her vagina. It is just easier to explain it to her that way.)
We are engaged in an epic battle: Mommy versus the Independent "I don't need to go potty" Toddler. She'll let me win once or twice a day, when she wants to. Here's the kicker. She lets me win a little. She will get on the toilet sprinkle a bit and announce "I did it!" She'll jump off the toilet and declare herself done. Only, she isn't done. She pees only a little and holds the rest. By midday, she can't hold it any longer and pees. Not in the toilet, she pees all over herself, her panties, the carpet, the floor, or whatever surface she happens to be on at the moment. All in the name of being in control of her own body.
And, I get it. Do I like the fact that she would rather have an accident than admit that she needs to use the restroom? No. Do I like that she is holding her urine inside her body rather than do what I ask her to do? Absolutely not. It worries me on several levels. Her body can't take holding it in and nothing good will come of it if we let this continue.
Last Sunday, for example, we went through 4 pair of panties and two outfits. I was at a loss and I couldn't take it any more. Gracie was getting more and more stubborn by the second. She absolutely would not go to the bathroom and hid in the corner to poop in her panties.
So, I buckled and I put Gracie back into Pull-Ups. For those few hours, I did not have to worry about the couch getting peed on or washing the Fancy Nancy shoes for a fourth time. And for those few hours, I thought constantly about how I had failed Gracie. Yes, failed. I'm the adult and as such, it falls to me to be patient and creative, to teach her how to work through asserting her independence and still being a big girl who uses the toilet. It was a very low day in my history as a Mom and I went to bed that night thinking that I had ruined potty training.
The week has continued to be a struggle, but Gracie and I seem to have come to a truce of sorts. I've discovered that you can't ask her if she needs to got to the bathroom or even ask her if she wants to. She'll always say no. However, there is a way that works and makes both of us happy. She still gets to be independent and I have figured out a creative way to get her to go to the bathroom even when she doesn't want to. You see, I announce that I have to go to the bathroom and I ask Gracie to go with me. I tell her that I would like a friend to go with me and she will hold my hand and walk me there. About 90% of the time, she'll tell me, once we close the door, that she will go first and then I can go. I never ask if she needs to go and never suggest it. Instead, getting her into the room gives her the choice to decide to use the bathroom or not. It has really worked well when we are at home and it worked great at the Zoo today. Whatever distraction I can make that gets her into the room seems to work. A small victory, but one I can appreciate.
By the way, I am totally aware that no one really cares to read about the poop issues of my children. However, this blog is my way of recording our struggles so that one day, when my memories are dim and I can't recall my name, I can point to this recorded history and say, "Here you go, kiddos!"
Oh, and there is one side benefit to all this struggle. My sisters, especially Auntie Ten Ten, have assured me that this whole struggle is really a bonding experience for Gracie and me. The more we struggle, the more Gracie and I are forming a stronger relationship. And they are right! Gracie has been much more affectionate and slightly clingy (clingy in a good way). For example, she wants me to hold her hand when we walk places. She was my Zoo buddy today, holding my hand and telling me that she loves me a lot. She wants to know where I am and what I am doing. At the same time, she is gaining confidence. She believes in herself and knows she is becoming a big girl.
So, we have hit this little snag, but I'm hoping we've made some progress and have some strategies in place for adapting. I'm hanging in there and I hope Gracie can, too.