Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Challenging Child

Coyote still holds the above mentioned title. His prenatal days were a medical drama of misinformed doctors. He bawled throughout his infancy. He shrieked through the first month of day care (at 2 ½!). Then there were his seizures, the hospitalization, and the life threatening allergies.

And now this: Potty Training.

Now before you whip out your favorite theory, pet method, super-nanny episode number, and best book on the topic let me tell you this: there is nothing you can say that I haven't tried over the past year and a half. If you think that there is, you are WRONG.

I waited until he was 3, because he is a boy. So I thought I'd give him a year to mature before we started with topics like aim, aiming, and aim. We started out mellow and low key: no rewards (the method that worked fairly well with Blue), just putting your garbage where it belongs. After a few unsuccessful months, the potty demands of Montessori school fast approaching, I upped the ante to treats. And this is where the games began.

We had some success with M&M's and timed potty breaks. This is the "potty-training in a day" method. After several WEEKs, Coyote quit, saying, "I don't really like candy anymore." We upped the rewards: bigger candy, movies at the theater, movies at home. And eventually they all met the same fate: "I don't really like that anymore, so I'm just going to sit here and pee."

Then we tried just leaving him in it, to marinate in the ickiness of his own choices, as suggested by many “experts”. He didn't care at all. In fact, it turned out that I'd have to tackle him and change him while he yelled, "I LIKE my poopy pants! They're GREAT!"

So then we switched to detractive methods. Time outs were first. After a few weeks he began announcing, "Thanks for the Time out! I just love time outs!" So I switched the time outs to my room, "I like time out in your room better, mom!" Then we went to NO DVD for a day with every accident. After a month, I really needed some down time to clean my house and he had forgotten all about DVD's.

One idea that sealed the deal with Blue was to let her bring her potty anywhere in the house she wanted, so she wouldn't really have to interrupt herself. Coyote has refused to even look at a training potty, much less sit on one. When we pulled it out, he just looked at us like we were nuts. No one else sits on that, why would he?

Training videos: done that. Training books: still a favorite bedtime fairy-tale. Fancy unders: got 'em.

I then brought him to the doctor to get his plumbing checked out. It's fine, apparently. The problem is in his DNA. As I understand it, the second X chromosome is missing its right leg. It's fairly common in about 50% of humans. It's not curable. It’s called XY Chromosomal Disorder, and it means he's a boy.

At this point the house went on the market, we were moving, and with all the commotion, we just decided to give up for a few months. Even if we'd accomplish anything, it would all be undone by the typical upheaval response of young children: potty reversal.

But now that we're settled a little more, we've decided to go through the methods again and hope that one of them catches this time. So, we just finished two weeks of the timer method. TWO WEEKS! This is another method that’s billed at Potty-training-in-a-day. He's got a Pavlovian response now: he hears any sort of alarm, anywhere, and he goes potty. But it's not been all that successful, when, say, no alarm goes off for an hour. And we have large items that aren't being covered here: large, brown and squishy items.

So now we're trying M&M's again. Two browns for #2 in the potty. And any color for pee.

While pressing some of our cider (41 gallons going hard right now!), Coyote claimed he'd pooped his pants and it was dribbling down his legs. No one wanted to check, least we contaminate the goods with fecal matter. We were tired from cranking and grinding and pressing. So we grumpily packed everything up, washed it all down and jetted home to deal with our errant eliminator. We get home: nothing. No poop. It was a joke! So we put him in the tub anyway, cuz he's dirty. And then he poops, in the tub.

The other day, first thing, he poops his unders. And then he says to me in utter surprise, totally incredulous, "I thought I was supposed to be potty trained!"

Is it sacrilegious to pray for divine poop intervention? Is god, if indeed there is, a god of elimination as well as consumption? To whom do I send my plea of "Uncle"?

Coyote can be cute. And I better remind myself of that right here: when doing paper crafts, he likes me to “stample” things together. And today, he and Huck made an apple pie. Coyote decided he was a “bakery” and this was his pie-slash-skateboarding school. (Marble school starts at 2:30, FYI.) And everything had an instructional play-by-play to it which was induplicatably cute. We don’t have TV, therefore no food channel, so I have no idea where this came from. Focusing on the CUTE helps me refrain from planning Nebraskaas the next family vacation destination.

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