May 8, 2014

Slow


My children are not 'advanced'. Little Smith was not early to crawl, walk, talk, draw shapes or know his letters. He is small for his age and was toothless well past his first year. There is a funny competition that happens with parents, even the well meaning ones. So many seem overly pleased when their kids are the first to complete a milestone or the biggest or most verbose in the bunch. Very possibly it is because mine wasn't the fastest bean in the stalk... but I honestly never placed any value on speed. He has so many amazing talents and abilities that can't be quantified or mapped on a chart, I really don't care (or in some cases want) him to follow the prescribed schedule. 


Now our baby girl is a full nine months old, and officially even slower than her brother was to get moving. She rolls and spins and generally finds a way to get what she's after, but she isn't yet crawling in any real way. I keep hearing that she will skip crawling and go straight to walking. Maybe. But maybe she is just taking her time and will crawl on all fours when she is ready and then walk even later, when she is ready for that. Either way, I will be patiently waiting for her to work it all out on her own time table. Of course there are times when intervention does make sense, but I just trust my instincts as a mother to know that in this case there aren't any larger issues, and so I will give her the space to follow her own schedule.


As a mother that truly believes in allowing everything to run its course and not to push, I am finding myself in quite a predicament. I'm quietly tearing my hair out over how to tackle a classic parental challenge... the dreaded potty. I have resisted mentioning it here, because out of all of the mommy topics, this one has always held the least interest for me. I can't stand potty talk. I'm bored by it, I'm grossed out by it, and now it seems I'm being punished for my apathy. 

I actually introduced a potty when Little Smith was less than two. Two years ago to be precise. TWO. I casually presented it as an option and he was never into it, so I just kept waiting for him to express an interest. Every so often I would ask if he wanted to sit on the potty, and one day he freaked out and decided he would never sit on it again. I tried getting a smaller seat for the regular toilet, even more terror. I have tried every possible potty option and configuration, and no dice.


It isn't that he doesn't know when he has to go to the bathroom or he can't hold it... he just literally won't sit on any toilet; not with his clothes on, not under any circumstances. If I put him in underwear, he will hold it and beg for a diaper and eventually wet his pants if the request is denied. I had a theory that if I could just get him to sit down all would be cured, a theory that lead to some of the moments I am least proud of as a mother; bribes (everything from luring him with the IPad to promising any toy he wants if he will just put his ass on the seat), and when that failed, a few attempts to physically force him onto the thing. It is literally the exact opposite of every value that I hold in parenting, and none of it has worked either. 

After feeling so stressed and crazy tantrums that had us all in tears, I decided a few months ago to just give up. I present the option, which is always met with an extreme 'no way', and I just keep changing his pull-ups like they're diapers. I want to wait until he is ready, I want to value what feels right to him for his body on his own schedule... but I see absolutely no hope in sight. I have visions of transitioning right out of toddler sizes and into adult diapers. Slow is giving way to stubborn, and I think I may have met my match. Help!

21 comments:

  1. Hello! My son is two and four months old, recently he has been asking to go to school, but I don't want to send him if he doesn't go to the bathroom... so we started the training... it just didn't work, he heated it, and there was no way to make him go, no toys, no ipad, no treats, no hugs, no nothing! and then, last weekend we took him to buy underwear, he chose what he liked and then, just no more diaper during the day. The first day I had to change his clothes at least six times. The next day, we started the day just like every day, just no diaper, and I guess then he realized he didn't want to stop playing to get changed and begun to accept the toilet. Today, he was very exited to go to the bathroom and I feel like he is discovering some kind of independence and self control that I didn't anticipate. It is not easy, change is not easy, not for them, not for us. But I think that respect their times and rhythms is the right place to start.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your process makes so much sense to me and is very much the way i anticipated potty training would go... He is definately ready and capable physically but for some strange reason is afraid to sit on the toilet. Hopefully he decides his 'time' is soon :)

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  2. Hello, Lily! I was reading your blog for quite a while, though commenting didn't work from my tablet for some reason. My name is Natasha, and my older boy is 5 months younger than Little Smith, and younger boy is 5 months younger than Ruby :)). So I'm following your steps in parenting pretty much. And I am completely with you in this parenting competition thing, teeth and potty being least favorite topics. My older is slow too, turned three and still in pull-ups, and it is hard not compare, especially with some girls we know, who are doing this potty thing being a year younger!
    Love the pictures in this post!

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    1. Hi Natasha, thanks for commenting, and funny that your two are ao similar in age to mine! We have a little cousin who isn't even two yet and is already potty trained... It makes me all the more aware how ridiculously slow my boy is taking this process. I hate to rush them, but hurry up already! ;)

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  3. I think you have a wonderful attitude. Kids develop at their own pace and it's no indication of how successful they will be in the future. You may have two lovely, laid back children. I have one that was content with me holding him as long as possible, while the other one wanted to run as soon as she could. And it kind of suits their personalities. It's all very sweet. I'm trying to be more accepting of who my kids are, because I can be a bit controlling, a bit of a perfectionist. Good luck with your potty issues. Maybe now that you've sort of given up, he will forge ahead on his own. ;)

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    1. I fully expected R to be an early crawler, and she proved me wrong. :) They really are such individuals, and stepping back and resisting controlling everything is a challenge sometimes for me too!

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  4. Oh, Lilly, it'll happen! Emil was pretty resistant to the potty too, but we just decided we would put him in underwear all day, no matter how many accidents he has (it was a lot at first). I don't know, though. If W freaks out whenever he has to go, it's not worth the anxiety and hassle quite yet!

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    1. Thanks Lauren, I did try just going with the undies, but it's not just that he wets himself... he holds it to the point where he seems in pain, begging for a diaper. He won't just not 'go' on the toilet, he's freaked out by it and won't sit on it to even test it out. I just can't imagine that he's ever going to get over it. He's never going to lose the diapers! ;)

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  5. Does he like to pee outside? Last summer my 2 year old son loved running around on our porch and then peeing off the deck. Over the winter he also developed a dislike of the toilet, and we are 100% of the time in pull ups. He is turning 3 next week, and we are trying the outside thing again, with a little luck.

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    1. That's a really good question, I'm not sure! The bulk of our effort has been in the winter so maybe I should try to switch tactics. Thanks for the thought!

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    2. You could also try letting him pee in the bathtub in addition to, or instead of, outside. Perhaps your husband could casually model the behavior in the new locations without any mention of the potty.

      I would also try changing the vocabulary. Saying "I'm going to relieve myself here" instead of telling him to "Pee here" (for example) may help LS feel like he won the argument. That way you're just kind of moving away from the words that have become contentious and emotionally charged.

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    3. I think you're right that changing up the wording is a great idea. I know I'm even tired of hearing 'potty', and my husband loved the suggestion that he should model peeing in the tub :) Ah the things we do as parents. Thanks so much Meghan!

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  6. Ack! It's so hard. For Gus to attend school he had to be out of diapers so we did a similar thing to Lauren where we kept him in underwear all the time no matter what. Lots of accidents, lots of laundry.. but what I found most helpful was being naked and letting him go outside. I know your living circumstances are different but is there a private outdoor space where you could use nature potties as enticement? Or maybe skip the sitting all together and go to the peeing standing up? Make it into a game of points. Every time he shoots his 'hose' into the 'target' he gets a point? And points add up to a trip to his favorite place?

    Who knows really! Every kid is so different. I'm pretty sure that we all convince ourselves that this one thing we did is what helped our kids reach whatever milestone they reached but really it probably has more to do with them being ready and it just so happened to coincide with whatever desperate thing we were trying at the time. It's much like moms saying "OH, Thanksgiving dinner put me into labor!" or "Watching a scary movie started my contractions!" I always think, "Or maybe that was just the last thing you did right before labor with zero correlation between the two?" We are less in control than we would like is what I'm trying to say!

    Gus still has accidents and he's not ever had issues with the toilet. It's just a slow-going, mind-scrambling process. He will get there and as his mama I'm sure you'll figure out the right path to lead him on. Good luck, Lilly!

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    1. Oooh these are good ideas. I thought we were going to need W to be out of diapers for school too, I was freaking out with the baby due and all, but they were pretty accomodating. He won't let them change his diapers, but he's only there for three hours so that's fine. I do like the outside naked idea. I think that's how I learned as a kid too... we have a yard (but it's shared and very visible to many neighbors). I think if I'd done it last summer he wouldn't care about anyone seeing, but he's become so much more self conscious about nudity lately. I wonder how he'll feel about the neighbor kids seeing him naked... He's so uptight! I blame James :)

      I like the points bit too. We got a toilet sticker of a truck, let's give it a go! I just never expected it to be so hard. I'm convinced he's the toughest nut ever, but I'm sure everyone feels that way. And whatever does eventually work probably will be more about timing than method, as you say.

      Thanks Julie!

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    2. That gave me another idea. Just brainstorming here since you guys are into gardening. What if he "watered a plant"? Seeing a sunflower grow might be a source of ongoing encouragement.

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  7. Child one, tried potty training, took six months of me feeling stressed, then at two and a half he suddenly mastered it! Child two, took own nappy off one day, when she was eighteen months, and refused point blank to wear one again! Child three, left pretty much to her own potty training, just had a potty available, ignored it, and started using the loo when she was two and nine months , child four was also two and nine months, again with out any training, but would only use big loo, no trainer seat, and refused to wear underpants until he started school at four and a half! However frustrating it is, he will be clean and dry when he is ready, good luck!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, your comment really helped me see that it is so much about the child... And you've had a number to test out that theory on, nice work! I know they are all different and he will come to it in his own way and time... But boy is he taking it slowly :)

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  8. Aww, bless you... two diapered babes!
    I do so much dislike the competition on timing with these mamas. It is one thing to be proud, but it sometimes is to the point where others may start questioning the variety of their own little ones.
    Both my babes are super tall and that has led them to walk much later than many. While I'd love to have more arms-free time, I've tried desperately not to focus on it!
    Thanks for your honesty and keep up the good work!

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    1. I like that you said it's sometimes pride because you are right. I think in my everyday life I am so self deprecating that even pride strikes me funny when parents express it about their own kids... but that's my own issue :) The competition definitely gets old, but I probably am overly attuned to it.

      And as soon as W wanted to walk everywhere, I wanted him right back on my hip. This time I am determined to sit back and enjoy! Thanks :)

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  9. Both my babes starting using the potty after watching Potty Power DVD. I think it turned the potty into something "cool" isntead of something dreadful.
    http://www.amazon.com/Potty-Power-For-Boys-Girls/dp/B0002B55DO/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1399910904&sr=8-9&keywords=potty+time+dvd

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    1. That does sound cool! I will check it out, thanks Samm.

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