If you need any proof that I’m a father, this should suffice: I attend a mens group and I recently had to speak in front of the group, to tell them something about myself, who I am, my life. It was free form, and completely improvised. I told a story about Abigail, and about poop.
She’ll be four in May. She’s been potty training for months now, or she’s been in the potty training process for months. She was motivated by M&M’s for a long time. She used to get two, every time. Katie got one, which lead to team work, you know? Strong mutual investment.
Once, Abby went pee and Katie yelled “YAY!” and started clapping.
Abby has been having a hard time with pooping in the potty. She turns bright red and grunts for a while, then she says “Daddy, it’s too hard.”
To combat this, I’ve escalated the bribery. I bought Play-Doh. I showed it to her, and told her she could have it as soon as she pooped. For the rest of the night and the next day she would sporadically say,
“Daddy, I want to play with my Play-Doh!”
And I would say, “You know what you need to do, sweetie. I want to play with it too! Lets go try to go potty.”
“No, it’s okay.”
Finally, she went in her pull-up. I’m going to spare you the grizzly details, but I’m going to make some pretty strong allusions. She’s three. She can hold it for about 5 days, and when that five days is over…when it’s over, you pray to your sweet and fluffy lord that the pull-up holds strong. In this case, it didn’t.
I was going to title this blog post, “and then, she pooped on the floor” but I thought that was sort of false advertising. Only sort of. So I changed her, washed her, washed her clothes, washed the floor, washed her sisters clothes, washed myself. Then we had a pretty serious conversation about where poo goes.
“But Daddy it’s hard.”
“Honey, I know you can do it. You’re awesome, you do hard things every day, and the potty might seem hard but if you try I know you can do it.”
“It’s okay daddy. I’ll just go in my pull-up.”
“Sweet heart, I really don’t like cleaning that up. It’s kind of icky. Doesn’t it feel icky?”
“No, it’s fine.”
This wasn’t working. Have I complained recently about how pointless it is to argue with pre-schoolers? Or really anyone under the age of 25, I think. Ugh. So I escalated things, again.
“Abby,” I said “If you can go poop in the potty, you can start going to Ballet class.”
“Yes! You can learn to dance just like Angelina.”
Time passed. Days went by. The next Saturday came, and I found her sitting quietly on the couch, a thoughtful look on her face.
“What are you thinking about, miss lady?” I asked.
“I was just thinking about ballet class.” she said.
“Oh yeah? What about it?”
“Daddy, I don’t want to go to ballet class anymore. I can just poop in my pull-up.”
I had a vision of her heading off to college with a box of Depends in the back of her VW bug. The next day I bought a Rapunzel dress. I thought it would be a bigger payoff than Play-Doh and more immediate than the idea of Ballet class. It sat next to her bed all weekend, finally on Wednesday evening she pooped in the potty. It was a major victory. She got her Rapunzel dress! Friday she got her Play-Doh!
Then Saturday came along, and we went out for breakfast. Afterwards, I took her to see kids her age doing a Ballet class. I was out of rewards and I had to think of something. She and her sister stood and watched these little girls dance for 10 minutes before I dragged them away, and when I said it was time to go Abby said “Awwwwww”.
We made a new bargain, and if she makes it to Saturday with no pull-up disasters, she’ll be taking her first Ballet class. I’m rooting for her, every day, and she talks about it constantly. She’s very excited.