Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zoe vs. Potty Training, Part the Third: The Poopening

Before starting this post I looked back over my blog to see when I first wrote about what I'm calling the Elimination Enterprise. It was last September. That was Part the First. Part the Second I wrote in November.
Obviously we took a break. A long one.
We decided she just wasn't ready. And now? Now it's May.
Vessel of olfactory horror genie.
Not wish-granting genie.
The truth is we didn't really give up. We just sort of put it on the back burner, occasionally letting Zoe go pants-less on a slow Saturday morning, and maybe bringing it up as a general reminder. Basically, we did the number-one thing all the experts say doesn't work, being inconsistent. I'm here to tell you, they're right. The proof is in the pull-ups, piled high within our long-suffering diaper genie that is even now staring at me balefully from Zoe's room, where it stands right by the window, which, far from mitigating its scent is in fact in the perfect position to carry the stench within on the breeze.
So. Is Zoe finally ready to use the potty? All signs point to "Meh." Turns out the "progress" we thought she was making in day care was short-lived. Once she'd demonstrated she could do it, the novelty wore off.
Her teachers are out of ideas as well. One time, when she forgot that going potty is banal and so accidentally didn't have an accident---i.e., she used the potty---they made a big deal, clapping and celebrating. But she quickly set them straight by throwing herself on the floor and crying.
Zoe doesn't like it when you make a big deal. Don't tell her she's pretty either. It's very upsetting. Zoe does not like fanfare. She prefers what The Husband and I refer to as the "Ramius nod." This is the acknowledging nod Sean Connery as Ramius gave to Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October after Ryan obliquely referred to Ramius's deceased wife then simply stated, "Sorry for your loss." Therefore, on a recent Pants-less Saturday when Zoe sat atop her potty and peed, I said to her, without inflection, "That's wonderful."

Submarine life is hell on a shy bladder.

She also seemed to make progress while visiting my in-laws, wearing underwear the whole time, but, alas, as soon as she came home it was back to business as usual, which meant doing her business in her underwear. After all, who did she have to impress? Her parents? Not likely. 
Enter: bribery. We now offer Zoe one chocolate for number one and two chocolates for number two, even though chocolate is known to throw a wrench in production.
So far we're just offering bribes, not indulging in bribery's evil counterpart, threats. I came close the time I treated her to the grim tale about the little girl whose potty-trained friends all moved on to pre-K leaving her behind to hang with all the babies. Zoe looked dismayed and seemed to feel genuine empathy for the little girl but did not identify with her. Guess I was too subtle.
Then two weekends ago we took her out wearing underwear. Just to the park. The first day she used the public restroom, which opened up a whole new world of revulsion for me as I watched her indulge her need to touch everything. The next day we went to the park again and, bored with her success, she peed through her clothes, how droll, and I had to rush her home. 
The Monday after, I decided to take her to day care in her underwear. "Let's just go for it," I said, with the misplaced confidence of the desperate and sleep deprived. It's a bit of a walk to the day care so I'd previously shied away from trying this because I didn't want her to wet the stroller seat.
I needn't have worried. She peed herself before we left. Twice. The second time within a minute of putting on the new outfit, including socks and shoes.

This M&M has somehow captured the exact
potty-emptying expression. 
The following weekend, when we ran out of underwear, she again went pants-less, a look only a toddler can pull off with elan. We gave her M&Ms every time she used the potty. She did it more than she ever had before. Whee! But also wee. A lot of it, on the floor and on the rug, because accidents do happen. I spent most of the weekend following her around with paper towels, constantly stepping on the same wet spot on the carpet that I'd keep forgetting about, and greeting her successes with urbane restraint.  
Hopefully we're almost to the end of this journey. Hopefully Zoe will be completely potty-trained by her fourth birthday. And hopefully the dark smudge currently gracing my elbow is chocolate.
Zoe: 44; Universe: 0


  1. When my sons were in preschool, they implemented the "poop for a (ice) pop" program, which worked very well. Except when it didn't.

    L. Davis

  2. There should be some chart somewhere to explain this. This is what NASA needs to be working on.

  3. I need someone for real to teach me how to do this. Because we have to do it this summer and the whole idea is horrifying to me...

  4. All I can say is, with Z the more she knows anything "has to" be done, the far less likely it will get done!

  5. Have you read I Have to Go by Robert Munsch? It's about going pee where you're supposed to but it's also hilarious. Maybe it'd make you feel better about the whole process? :)

  6. No, I haven't heard of that one. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

  7. but i think i'll try polka dots! this looks so cool ......................