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The Politics of Poop

January 16, 2012

If you'd told me a few years ago that I would be talking publicly about poop, I would have said you’re crazy. No way. Not me. I’ll never be that mom.

Well, I’m that mom. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and I as I tried to fall back to sleep, I found myself thinking about poop. Night and day: poop. You know what I'm talking about...

Potty Training

My 2-year-old has learned to pee on the potty with remarkable success. It took just a couple of days, and she picked it up with ease. She was ready and excited to learn this new, “big girl” thing. Poop? Not so much.

She is afraid to poop on the potty. When she knows she has to poop, she clings to me in fear and cries. I hear it’s common.

I’ve followed the expert advice on potty training. I give her extra fiber to make it easier. I’ve praised the successes and ignored the accidents. I’ve tried to convince her that if she is afraid, she can simply stand in the bathroom and go in her pull-up, for a start. No, she’s just not having it. No poop.

I’ve bought books; We’ve read Everybody poops and Where’s the poop? at least a hundred times. We talk about all of the people we know, and I explain how we all poop on the potty. She talks to her baby doll about potty training and explains to Baby how big girls poop on the potty. I’ve even dropped the topic of potty training completely, thinking that perhaps I’m overdoing it.

But, she’s still scared. Her solution?  She saves these special moments for nap-time and nighttime, which makes for a lovely wake-up call for Mommy and Daddy.  And, which might explain why Mommy wakes up in the middle of the night, desperate to think of something to solve this potty training problem.

Yesterday, though, her plan failed her. She had to poop, and it wasn’t time for bed. She was in pain from trying to hold it in. I tried to comfort her, calm her and convince her to just go, wherever she needed to go. Nothing. For two hours, this drama continued.

Then, finally, she went. On the potty. A small miracle. Afterwards, she looked at me and says matter-of-factly, “Momma, I seem, I seem.” As I try to interpret what she is saying, she repeats, “Momma. poop. I seem. POOP I SEEM!”

And then I remember. A few days ago I bought some ice cream. I told her if she pooped on the potty, I would give her some ice cream. What flavor you ask? Well, chocolate, of course.

Potty Training Rewards

So, we went to the kitchen. I got two bowls and two spoons, and we sat at the kitchen table and ate our poop ice cream.

I don’t know if this was the turning point in our potty training journey. Tomorrow, we might be right back where we started; only time will tell.

But, do you know what I’ve learned? Anybody who claims to have all of the potty training answers is just lying. There is no one-size-fits-all, five-step plan that can guarantee potty training success.

When it comes to potty training each child is different, and each has their own timetable and learning process. It takes patience, and more patience and then a little more patience. When it comes right down to it, no one can make a child go to the bathroom on the potty. Ultimately, it has to be their choice. As parents, we can guide them, comfort them and help them along the way, but we are simply the supporting characters in their potty training drama.

Well, I’ve learned that and also that I will never look at chocolate ice cream the same way again.

I know I’m not the only parent with a potty training story like this one. What is a memorable potty training story that you’d like to share? Do you have any advice for parents struggling through the potty training stage?