Pull-ups have overstayed their welcome in our house with both boys. For Ethan, potty-training was uneventful and smooth sailing except for at night. He sleeps so deeply that his brother can out wail any emergency vehicle at 3am without eliciting a stir from snoring Ethan. He can sleep through anything including bladder prompts. On one hand, Mike fell back to his good ole “Don’t worry, he’ll do _____ before college.” On the other hand, I would have nightmares filled with UnderJam commercials and throwing in a case of Depends next to his dorm mini-fridge. Lo and behold, the glorious day arrived when Ethan was consistently dry at dawn, and we kissed those pull-ups goodbye.
With Connor, it was also a breeze training him but only for pee. For poop, he never wanted to sit on the potty. He did once in the very beginning with great protest and was successful. But the ordeal it required made me feel a little like a warden at Gitmo; it was torturous for him. So we allowed him his choice of using a pull-up still. He was officially trained in the sense that he controlled when and never had accidents. It was just that he’d require a pull-up to do it. I had heard others say their children did the same thing. We were sure it was just a phase and when he was ready he would decide to use the porcelain throne like the rest of humanity.
Then he turned 3. Then he turned 3 1/2. Then the other kids who were using pull-ups were no longer using pull-ups. Then we began to wonder again. On one hand, I did not want to traumatize him with coercion so much that he would require a social worker coming to help him eliminate solid waste in 3rd grade. I had heard those stories. I didn’t want to reenact the Gitmo warden. But on the other hand, he turned 4 with no signs of ever being ready. It was bad enough that I was not one of the superwomen who faithfully clean reusable diapers out of their love for Mother Earth. I love Earth but I hate cleaning poop more. My guilt for contributing way more than my share to landfills was suffocating me beyond the stink of Connor’s worst deposits. And those are bad enough to have shortened my life a few years.
If I were going to have a son with anal-retentive tendencies, could he at least clean my house like one? Maybe I wouldn’t mind the mess so much if he started neatly sorting the hundreds of Lego pieces by shape and color or expertly organizing our endless piles of books by author in a way that would make any librarian drool. No such luck. I just had the refusal to do what seemed natural to the majority of people without the OCD housekeeping.
After his 4 y/o check up, his trusty pediatrician and our beloved friend decided we should take it up a notch. Thus began Poop Watch 2012. When nature called the next day, he did his regular inquiry for a pull-up. Sorry, dude. We do not have any more. You are 4. You are a big boy. It is time. Time for the potty. This is war.
At first, he actually sat after some initial whimpering and realizing I meant business. I channeled my inner Tony Robbins and gave the best series of motivational speeches known to man. I reminded him of the multitude of bribes that had been promised to him over the years. I recounted all the heroic big boy things he’d been doing lately. He even laughed at times when I put to song some encouraging cheers. But in the end, he protested and came off crying for a pull-up. He channeled his inner Rocky and yelled for them like Adrian: “Puuuuuull-uuuuuup!!!”
After many rounds of sitting, mangoes, an occasional push, orange juice, applesauce, iPhone videos, promising but stinky smells, even watching his brother do an actual demonstration, whining and crying, and me wishing I had stocked up on Bailey’s, we finally had a winner!!! Round 5 threatened to have Connor leave the ring again in tears but instead he came out a champ. And yes, of course I took a picture! I emailed that bad boy to my poor family members who are required to love me unconditionally. I texted it to girlfriends who proved their friendship by being willing (or forced) witnesses to the Poop Watch saga. Surprisingly, they have yet to de-friend me.
I am so tempted to post that picture here. However, this blog entry alone is already jeopardizing Connor’s chances for a prom date and consideration for that future job promotion. If I truly loved him, I’d keep that motherly pride in check. But let me tell you, after 18 months and wondering if there would ever be an end to pull-up purchases, my happiness is off the charts. I busted out the remote-control car bribe immediately. The next day Mike put together Connor’s new bike. We ate dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese. That alone should be a measure of how much joy we felt. Kids love that place; parents like us tolerate it despite it lacking a full bar (and I’m not talking salad).
When things come easily, there is still joy. I still took a picture of Ethan’s relatively uneventful first #2. However, when there is struggle, when things don’t go as planned, when you have to go up a steep and slow hill to get to the top, the thrill of coming down is unparalleled. No doubt I often prefer the lazy river path to life, but there is nothing quite like the roller coaster filled with adrenaline explosions that we are privileged to ride. Sometimes our ability to experience deeper joy is dependent on our having gone through a place of pain. Keep pushing through the poop or lack thereof. Victory is sure to come! We are officially pull-up free. Thank you, Jesus.