Thursday, August 23, 2012

Earn Those Poop Stickers, Girl!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that B, age 3, is potty trained!

I swear, I only mentioned it once... maybe twice.
Three times, tops.
photo credit -

Yeah, I know. Big deal, Terese. B is your second child. B is a girl. Second born girls are easy to potty train because they just watch their older sisters and copy them. That's what they say, right? Well, that's what they said to me when I expressed how NOT easy it was to potty train my second born daughter. Truth be told, I didn't potty train my first born daughter, S. I was working full time when she was that age and the daycare did all the hard work. They told me they felt S was ready to start potty training. They told me to get her some training pants. They introduced her to the potty. They set her schedule. S would come home and tell me when she needed to use the potty. It took a while for her to graduate from training pants to big girl underpants, especially at night, but eventually, she mastered it. 

So about a year ago, when other mothers were talking about their adventures in potty training their kids at age 2, I decided it was time to give it a go with B. I pulled out S's old training potty. It was a Winnie the Pooh potty. Yes, I giggled at the name, too. I purchased some training pants (Pull Up's.) I set up a chart to track her progress with stickers. Guess what? B wasn't interested. She didn't want to potty train. I remember hearing that you should not get upset if your child does not want to use the potty at first. Leave the little potty chair where she can see it. Eventually, she'll want to use it.

For the next year, the sticker chart stayed bare. The Pooh potty sat in the corner of our hall bathroom, collecting dust. I continued to purchase diapers. I repeated my mantra, It will happen one day. I re-introduced the concept of potty training every month. B rejected it every time. At one point, when I asked her why she didn't want to use the potty, she told me she loved her diapers. At $20 a box, this terrified me. B would get very mad if I brought up the subject. Fearful of screwing up my kid, I didn't nag her about potty training. On the outside, I was easy going about the whole situation. Eh, it'll happen before she leaves for college. If not, she can buy her own diapers then. In my mind, however, I obsessed about it. All I thought about was potty training. I would dream about potty training. I would secretly not like other moms who had potty trained kids B's age or younger. I would search the Internet late at night, looking for advice and training tips. I asked others how they trained their child. I tried every trick in the book. It didn't matter what I did, B did not bend.

The one thing that really drove me crazy was when people would ask about her potty training progress. But, they wouldn't ask me. They would ask her. 

So B, why are you still wearing diapers?
B, why don't you use the potty like your big sister? 
B! You're not potty trained yet?
Why hasn't your MOMMY potty trained you yet?

Here's a public service announcement, folks. Don't do that. It's not a fun party conversation. It puts the mother and the child on the spot. Especially if you don't know the child or the mother. I don't know how many times some stranger would come up to us while at the grocery store to comment on how awesome my daughter is only to poke and prod about her potty training success, or lack there of. Think of it this way: How would you feel if a stranger came up to you and questioned why you haven't lost those 10 lbs you've been trying to lose lately? I hope you would say, "What's it to you, jackass?!" instead of turning red in the face and say what I said when faced with the potty training question, "We're working on it. Thank you. Have a nice day." Damn politeness. Why do I have to be polite when others are so incredibly rude? Perhaps, I am doing them an injustice by not calling them out on their social indiscretions. Perhaps, I'll address that another time.

Two weeks ago, Thursday morning, B woke up and declared that she wanted to "Ride the Potty Train." Okay. Sure, kid. It's not nice to toy with your mother's heart. I played along. She asked me to put the sticker chart back up on the living room wall. She wanted to wear her Minnie Mouse big girl underpants. She stated very clearly that I was not to talk or ask her about "Riding the Potty Train." I was only there to help her on and off the toilet, assist in the messy wiping jobs, and to make sure her underpants were on correctly. B was going to do this all by herself.

B potty trained like it was her job. The first time she peed, she yelled, "I get a pee sticker, Mommy!" The first time she pooped, she yelled, " I get a poop sticker, Mommy!" I cried. I shed big tears of joy. I was so grateful every time she called me to help her get on the toilet that I swear I skipped to the bathroom. B only had three accidents since she boarded the potty train. We added a new sheet of paper to the potty chart because she covered the first page with stickers. Remember when I talked about my 30-somethingth birthday wish? Well, I got my birthday wish this year. B potty trained. Hell yeah, people. Hell yeah.

My favorite piece of art in the house. 

Now here comes the lesson part:

B did not potty train until she was ready to potty train. She didn't follow a schedule. She didn't buy into the bribes or the peer pressure. She woke up one morning and decided she was ready. It had nothing to do with me, the Hub, her big sister, that nosy lady at the grocery store, or our family and friends... it was her. The last two weeks, I have cheered and danced like I won the lottery. I proudly displayed B's poop stickers on the wall in the living room, showing them off as if they were Olympic gold medals. I smiled and sighed in relief when we passed the diaper aisle without grabbing a box. But, I can't take the credit. I still don't know how to potty train a child. I have a sneaking suspicion that a child potty trains themselves when they are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready. And that applies to most things in our lives. You can't lose weight until YOU want to lose it. You can't give up an addiction until YOU want to give it up. You can't write the next great American novel until YOU want to write it. You have to want it, want it in the very worst way, so you can find that drive to actually do the hard work to reach your goal. No matter how much other people want it for you, it is your wanting that gets you to your goal. No matter how minor or major the goal is, you have to work for it and you have to want to work for it. The want is what gets you a page of poop stickers on the living room wall.

What is it that you want?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to School Fail

I knew it was going to be a horrible day the minute I opened my eyes. I was late for school. Very late for school. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to get my book bag and keys. No time for breakfast. No time for coffee. It wasn't until I was half way to Atlanta, when I realized I forgot to brush my teeth. I attend Georgia State University. Again. Eleven years ago, dressed in a cap and gown, I received my B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing. I thought I was set in the formal education phase of my life. Unfortunately, the university made a grave error and I did not actually earn my degree. I was five credits shy of completing my course requirements. I don't know why or how this happened. I guess there was a computer glitch or human error with the data entry. Either way, I was recently notified of the discrepancy and until I finished the courses, my diploma is a lie. Just my luck. So back to school for yours truly.

I'll be honest. I've not been the best student this go 'round. I don't always show up for class or complete my assigned homework. Okay, that's a lie. I never show up for class. I couldn't even tell you what classes I am taking or the names of my professors. I have all the books, but I haven't even cracked them. I guess I've been too busy with the kids to attend my classes. But, today was midterms and I had to at least try to pass the tests. It would be a total waste of money to drop the classes now. My real concern this morning was trying to remember how to get to my classrooms. I hoped I could just sneak into the room and the professor wouldn't notice that this was the first time he's seen me. Fake it til you make it, right?

So this morning, I found myself wandering the empty halls. Great. I'm really late, now. So much for blending in. I passed the lady's room and decided to take a bathroom break before I got to class. It was bad enough I had to walk into class after everyone else. I didn't want to have to get up during the test to use the facilities. I walked into the bathroom and discovered all the doors on the stalls were broken. Some were barely hanging by a hinge and some were missing all together. Unbelievable! To add insult to injury, there wasn't a sheet of toilet paper left. I just knew that as soon as I sat down, someone would walk in and see me on the toilet. I decided to hold it and wait until after the test. I was beyond late.

I started to recognize the layout of the building. I walked past a door and saw my professor standing at the white board, giving test instructions. Excellent! I thought that maybe my luck was changing. I planned on telling him that I was stuck in traffic, if he asked why I was tardy. I was sure he'd understand. There were so many students in his classroom that if I played the "I'm a quiet kid that always sits in the back of the room and that's why you don't recognize me" card, he probably wouldn't say anything to me. I turned the door knob and walked in.

Everyone looked up. I heard people gasp and whisper. Great. I was too loud and now everyone was staring at me. Busted. The professor looked up at me and screamed, "How dare you interrupt my class! Who the hell do you think you are?"

The blood rushed from my face and I swear my skin was on fire. I was mortified. You see, I never get into trouble with teachers. Teachers LOVE me. I don't know why I am having such a difficult time with school. I never imagined that I would be back at school now. I don't have the energy for school. I don't want to be here. How the hell am I supposed to do all my assignments and be a stay at home mom?! 

Oh. My. God! Stay at home mom! I'm a stay at home mom now! With kids!! I don't know why I didn't realize until that moment that had I left my youngest daughter at home by herself! In the rush getting out the door, I forgot to call a babysitter! I was an hour away from home and she was alone. I was going to jail. They are going to take my daughter away and I was going straight to jail. I had to call The Hub at work and tell him to go home and make sure she was okay. I reached for my cell phone in my pocket. 

That's when I realized I was completely naked.

My daughter started the first grade today and I'm the one having the "back to school" nightmares. 

Good luck with your first day back to school, S! We love you kiddo!