09 July 2009

The potty wars

Sunday night Sacha pulled off his diaper while watching TV, because who doesn't prefer watching their favorite show bare-assed?

Instead of replacing his foundation garment, like I usually do, I tried a different approach, just for kicks. I told him he had to sit on the floor, not the couch, and that if he peed, he would loose TV privileges. An hour later, he was still sitting happily, engaged in the favored American pastime of watching TV while playing oneself. And he was holding his water.

He is 3-1/2, and I have been waiting for some kind of sign that he is ready, or even slightly interested, in MOVING TO THE NEXT LEVEL. Perhaps this was the sign I'd been looking for? I broke out the underwear.

Oh, how wrong I was!

Monday was relatively smooth. Apart from what I (mistakenly) thought was a minor accident at camp, he did fine. He peed whenever I took him to the bathroom. He did not poop, but I expected this would be the case, figuring he would find night time the right time to do the deed, once he was safe in a pull-up. I checked him before going to bed; nothing. When he woke on Tuesday morning, he was still clean.

Interesting, I thought; my adversary's powers of withholding are stronger than I anticipated.

When I picked him up at camp on Tuesday, I learned that he had SHIT IN HIS UNDERWEAR. (Oh, dear.)

Fascinating, I thought; my adversary is cunning too; he chose a strategic moment, when I was not around, to unleash the contents of his bowels.

This, of course, was not a fluke, as he showed me when we got home, and PROCEEDED TO DO IT AGAIN, on my watch.

It had not yet occurred to me that we were now locked in a power struggle from which I had no possibility of deescalating.

Still undeterred, on Wednesday morning, I tightened the screw a quarter turn. I told Sacha that it was unacceptable to go to camp and soil his underwear — it would be embarrassing to be expelled from summer camp for such an offense, and would look awful on his permanent record — and so, he would have to do his business on the toilet, before going to camp.

He sat on the potty for 30 minutes. He peed like a champ. NO NUMBER TWO.

And now, it was time to leave for camp. Oh, shit. (No pun intended.)

I wanted him to go to camp. He wanted to go to camp. I brought him in and escorted him to the toilet, where he peed some more. Who knew he had so much water in him?

Having grown up in New York City (Staten Island is part of NYC, thank you very much), I am a highly skilled at parallel parking, but by now, the car was wedged in so tightly that there was no possibility of exit until someone else pulled out.

I consulted some experts, namely, the camp directors, who brought me to my senses.

To sum up: I had failed to heed two pieces of sage advice, and as a third time parent, should have known better. "Never get involved in a land war in Asia," and "Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"

Chastened, I bid a tactical retreat. Back to diapers for now. I lost the battle, but I will ultimately win the war. Although he may come alarmingly close, I know that my son will go to kindergarten in underwear.

My ignominious defeat reminded me of a few important lessons. Despite one's many years of parenting experience, you never quite know what you are doing. And more importantly, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him shit.


  1. i have visions of him doing the deed thinking....i'll show you, mom!

  2. I am SOOOO right there with you. Charlie was 90% there before Jack was born. And then he regressed completely after Jack arrived. He's just now starting to pee in the potty again, but man is it tough.

    Stay strong!

  3. Sarah went back into diapers when Gabriel was born. Short of withholding food and water, I had my hands tied.