December 13, 2009

What really matters

To those of you who envied our 4-day potty training "success" with Zion, you can take a deep breath now. It failed. We have officially joined the ranks of parents suffering from fecal frustration, and we are learning that our first child and his soaring 3-day success at 2 1/2 years old was quite the exception. Our second child is just like your kid, pooping his pants and caring nothing about it. I apologize fully to anyone who was made to feel for a second that Daniel and I have any answers. Alas, we have none.

It feels darn good to say that, actually.

After weeks of beating our heads up against a wall, we finally gave in. We thought he was potty trained at first, but actually we were just putting him on the potty every 2 hours to pee and he was just holding his poop until he could hold it no longer, then unloading it in the warm, familiar surroundings of his pants. Then he stopped peeing on the potty, too. He's not ready. He has no motivation. He will not pee for treats. He will not poop for gifts. He doesn't even have the cognitive ability to understand such things. Our "big boy" is still a baby, and you know what, that's ok.

So we took the potty chart down from the bathroom wall and trashed it. I picked up his little Wall-E undies from the bathroom floor, soaked through with pee, and threw them in the wash for the last time. We put a diaper on him, for the first time since this all began, and he giggled and said, "Ooohh...diaper." We looked at each other and realized, as he ran off to play with his brother, that he has no idea that he was ever "potty trained" in the first place. He never was. I asked Daniel how he felt. "Relieved," he said. I, on the other hand, felt like a failure. I felt miserable. I felt defeated. I started to cry.

But then I looked into the hallway, and Zion was bouncing around in front of his baby brother, carrying his stuffed dog, Spinner, under one arm and his pink stuffed bear, Baby, under the other, hooting like and owl and saying, "I dancing like a doggy." How could I cry? How could I feel anything at that moment but gratefulness and joy? What really mattered was there, dancing and kicking and laughing.

And now we are free to focus on real issues, like issues of his heart, and we are free to enjoy Zion again, instead of being mad at him all the time. He will go to the bathroom in the potty when he is ready, when the motivation is coming from within him, not from within me. Until that day, we will change the nastiest diapers known to man, in a once-again relaxed and happy home.

"Cherish every moment," older parents are always telling us younger ones. "They have the rest of their lives to walk, to poop in toilets, to eat salad and read." It feels good to heed some advice every now and then.