Perhaps you've wondered where I've been the past week. Perhaps you've imagined I've been busy with holiday shopping and holiday crafts and holiday baking and holiday gift wrapping, and soaking up the wonder of the season and the beauty of my children and the love that fills the air.
You would be wrong.
I have been in potty training hell. And, guess what? It does not allow time for blogging.
Before I had kids, I swore that I would never talk about potty-training as though it were actually a subject of interest to anyone else.
But it's all I can think about. (Well, that and the soundtrack to Rent, which I've been listening to the in the car, even though it's loaded with the F-bomb--those songs are so catchy I wake up in the middle of the night with them running through my head and can't stop reciting the entire damn soundtrack.)
So my friend Brandy told me about the 3-day potty training program she was going to do with her son. I thought it sounded great, but with Christmas coming up and holiday traveling, I didn't think we were going to tackle it until the new year (you know, when I also start exercising and cut out sugar and unnecessary spending and get all my paperwork organized and purge the house of toys and go back to work--so FUN TIMES COMING UP).
And then I thought--with all the crap we are packing up for our Midwest Christmas Tour, I do not want to pack double diapers. There is NO REASON why Zuzu shouldn't be potty-trained. She's capable. I would have gotten serious about it months ago if Coco weren't in the mix. I know she's ready. She is perfectly capable of communicating verbally. She wakes up dry from naps and, often, in the morning. She announces poop in her diaper. It is time.
I read about the program Brandy is using, and I got ALL FIRED UP and ready to DO THIS THING.
So I gathered our supplies (about 20 pairs of big girl panties--I'm counting reusable swim diapers), gave her unfettered access to watered down apple juice and encourage her to guzzle it (the idea being that she'll have to pee a lot and will therefore get a lot of practice at identifying the sensation), and put the potty chairs in the bathrooms at the ready. I made a big show of throwing away her diapers (Bye-bye, diapers!) and the games began.
The basic premise of this program is that we say, approximately every 5-10 seconds, "Tell me when you have to pee." And then (until she actually starts telling us) we watch for her to pee, and make sure she gets to the bathroom. When pee hits the potty, we respond with lots of praise and positive reinforcement. Eventually, she'll actually start to tell us because she will blossom under our encouragement and will also have a natural desire to please us.
How did it go?
WELL LET ME TELL YOU.
Day 1 (keep in mind that ALL DAY E'R'R' DAY I'm saying, "Tell me when you have to pee, ok?" a minimum of 20 times an hour in a really chipper voice)
9:30 a.m. We throw away the diaper and put on big girl panties.
10:00 a.m. Pees in basement on the floor. I totally missed it. Not an ideal start.
11:00 a.m. Pees in kitchen. We race to bathroom but don't make it. I give her the speech that will end up getting LOTS of practice: "Oh, it's too bad that your big girl panties got wet. You need to tell Mama when you have to pee. We want to keep your panties dry."
11:45 a.m. MADE IT! Sits on potty at my suggestion, pees. We dance, sing, give stickers and Skittles. Life is so good. This is easy. She's totally getting it.
1:00 p.m. Pees on the top step of the stairs on our way up to use potty before nap. Bummer.
1:20 p.m. - 2:20 p.m. Is so jazzed up from sugary apple juice that nap does not happen, even though we read stories and rock in her room for two hours.
2:30 p.m. Starts to pee in the living room. I pick her up and race through dining room and kitchen to bathroom. Pee goes all over my pants; none in potty.
3:43 p.m. She pees in the laundry room. I race her to the big potty. She's already done.
4:35 p.m. MADE IT! After I saw her dancing around, said "It looks like you have to pee" and carried her to the bathroom. We celebrate huge with Skittles, Minnie Mouse Sticker, and dance party.
5:00 p.m. She pees on the f$%^ing couch. Fortunately the couch is leather so it wipes clean easily. But she was sitting on a silk throw pillow.
6:15 p.m. We're back in the laundry room. She has evidently marked her territory because she pees in the same place, right by the furnace.
7:30 p.m. Bathtime. It's possible she pees in the tub, but I don't notice/care.
8:00 p.m. Pees on the bathmat next to the potty. We'll call that effort? I praise her anyway for being NEAR the potty (grasping for straws here, people).
11:00 p.m. I heard her waking in her room, rushed in, and took her to the potty. MADE IT! (She was also half asleep and too tired to resist.)
8:00 a.m. She wakes up dry. Yet, she refuses to sit on potty. "Okay!" I say cheerfully, through gritted teeth, knowing her bladder must be bulging. "Tell me when you need to pee!"
8:20 a.m. Starts to pee in our room, next to Coco's changing table. I rush her to the bathroom, some pee got in the potty. We celebrate this even though I'm actually totally pissed off about it.
(She doesn't drink as much juice this morning. Perhaps she's making connections? I keep encouraging her to drink.)
12:00 p.m. I'm trying to convince her to sit on the potty. She refuses. Then she pees on the tile floor outside the bathroom. She points at the puddle and says, "Mommy! I poop!"
(Could the lack of distinction between pee and poop be part of the problem? I'm pretty sure we've been consistent about calling it like we see it... Not sure what is going on there.)
1:00 p.m. Pees on couch. #$%$!!
1:30 p.m. Getting ready for nap, asks to go, pees a bit in her room, gets some in the potty. We celebrate.
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Takes a nap. We take turns sitting in her room, waiting for her to stir so we can rush her to the potty. She wakes up at 5:00 p.m. completely soaked. She peed without stirring. Whoops.
6:00 p.m. - We leave her with a babysitter (bad idea) because we are going to dinner with friends to celebrate my friend Beth finishing chemo and I am NOT missing this to sit home and watch my kid pee her pants.
Zuzu has three accidents for the babysitter between 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., including once on a PILLOW on our BED. Like a pissed off cat.
8:00 a.m. Wakes up dry!
8:02 a.m. Refuses to sit on potty.
9:15 a.m. The dam finally bursts. She runs away and starts peeing in living room, I catch her and we got some of it in the potty. I praise her, and hand over a sticker and Skittles even though I'm pissed off at how stubborn she's being.
10:00 a.m. We're entertaining her and keeping a close eye on her by creating a fort of sheets in the TV room. She pees just outside the fort. We rush to bathroom, but it's too late. I clean her up, David cleans up the carpet.
10:30 a.m. Another pee in the back room next to the fort. We decide the fort we created is actually serving as a restroom for her, so we take down the sheets.
11:30 a.m. She pees her pants in the kitchen. She tells me that pee-pee belongs in the potty. I need wine, but it's not even lunch time.
12:15 p.m. I am nursing baby, I see her doing the pee-pee dance by the Christmas tree. I yell for David, he rushes her to the potty. She throws a fit, "I dry! I dry! No sit on potty! I dry!" He lets her go. She runs and IMMEDIATELY pees in the back room. David loses his temper, yells, drags her into the bathroom. She cries. I ask her why Daddy is upset. She says, "No! I upset!" (She's not sorry, though. Not at all.)
1:00 p.m. She goes down for a nap. David notes that potty-training her is just like Cooper. It works best when we keep her confined to a small area and catch her in the act. It's also messy and exhausting and taking for-freaking-ever.
2:50 p.m. Wakes from nap. I'm downstairs writing grocery list instead of diligently watching her sleep (another bad idea on my part). She walks to the doorway of her room, pees. Walks to the bathroom and takes off her wet panties. I make it upstairs, observe this situation, call it progress and tell her I'm VERY PROUD of her for TRYING to make it to the potty.
4:00 p.m. I escape the house with Coco and go to a friends' house. Zuzu poops for the first time in three days. MAKES IT it because David smells that action and carries her to the bathroom. But she doesn't fight him and she poops on the potty. They celebrate with Skittles and stickers.
6:30 p.m. David answers a phone call and Zuzu takes advantage of his distraction and pees on the leather couch. (Who wants to come over and hang out on our couch? Anyone? Yeah.)
8:30 p.m. She's getting ready for bed. I'm at Target with Colette, who sleeps through the entire store in an obvious effort to secure her position as #1 on the Nice List this year. (It's working.) Zuzu won't settle down, so David leaves the room, says he'll come back when she's calm and ready to read books, and closes the door. She has a tantrum and pees herself.
END OF DAY 3.
I thought it was supposed to CLICK at the end of Day 3.
I really believed it was all going to be worth it--the carpet cleaning, the couch wiping (thank goodness it's leather and only the bonded kind, not the expensive kind), the positive reinforcement when I really want to scream, the ragey feelings that David and I express by biting each other's heads off since we have to be nice to Zuzu. I mean, I really thought this would work.
But it's been THREE DAYS of intensive potty training (okay, minus the one evening when I left her with a teenager and went to hang out with my friends) and she is NOT POTTY TRAINED. I'm not even sure she is NEAR potty trained.
The problem with this positive reinforcement technique is that Zuzu really doesn't care about pleasing anyone but herself. She is missing the natural desire to please her parents (this bodes well for the future, doesn't it?) And evidently Skittles and Minnie Mouse stickers aren't sufficient reward for the inconvenience of running to the potty BEFORE she starts actually peeing.
I'm too stubborn to go back to diapers at this point (hmmm... perhaps we are witnessing a genetic predisposition at work here?) but it's almost a farce since she just pisses her way through ten pairs of a "big girl panties" a day.
We've GOT to have a break-through anytime now, right?
(David says we're not getting new carpet until Colette is potty trained.)
I really, really, really want only one kid in diapers.
So... I'm waiting for your feedback. BUT PLEASE DON'T tell me "she'll train when she's ready." I mean, yes. Obviously THAT IS TRUE. But it is also NOT HELPFUL for me to hear.
I know she is the one who has to decide to do this. But I need to find a way to convince her to decide that NOW is the time. Because we are DONE with DIAPERS.
Even though I'm second-guessing that decision all the time.
So please, pep-talks only. Nobody tell me to give up and try again in a few months. I only want POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!
Also, feel free to send wine.