The Girl Who Cried Poop

Ever heard the story about the boy who cried wolf? You know the lesson then: the more we blow things out of proportion or call a false alarm, the less likely it is that others will help us when we really need it. Well, this is the story of a girl who cried poop.

Teaching a child to use the toilet is a giant undertaking and there are many approaches to making it happen. Some parents bring a few books and games into the bathroom, camp out, and play the waiting game, praying that eventually the child will feel the need to go and -voila- she'll conveniently already be sitting on the potty when the big moment arrives.

Others place plastic or towels over every surface in their house and look for signs. Is she antsily grabbing herself? Is she crouching under the table? Is she looking at you and saying, "I have to go to the potty!"

The potty training process requires lots of communication between parent and child. It also requires trust. The child must trust that the parent will indeed take her to a potty when she needs to go and the parent must trust the child to tell her when she needs to go to the potty. I promised Caroline that I would take her to the potty when she told me she had to go. I enthusiastically demonstrated to her how quickly and efficiently I would provide her with a potty. All she needed to do was say the word. To show her my devotion to the cause, when Caroline was potty training, I carried a kid-size potty seat in my diaper bag, to be placed over the dirty public toilet seat. I turned the back of the van into a bathroom, complete with wipes and a porta-potty. I made it my mission to make using the potty as convenient as possible for her and fun, too.

There were perks offered during the intense training period- stickers for an attempt and candy if she actually delivered. All of this positive reinforcement meant that Caroline realized over time that anything she did related to the potty got my attention. That and the fact that our training included going straight to cotton panties and the last thing I wanted was a wet couch, chair, rug or kid. When Care said "poop" I said,"Let's go team!"

C'mon. If your kid says, "I have to go poop" what are you going to do? Challenge her about it? Go ahead. I DARE you! Trust me, you will end up cleaning smooshed poop out of your kid's pant legs.

My hands are tied. I always have to take her word for it that she has to go to the bathroom. And boy oh, boy, it seems that this kid a) has a very tiny bladder and b) produces an insane amount of crap. Caroline pretty much has to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune times.Prior to leaving the house, I'll make her sit on the potty for a few minutes, but will she go? Nooooo. No, she will not go. Instead she will announce that she needs to go while we are driving 65 on the highway, 1 mile past the last rest stop and 25 miles until the next.

Here's a brief list of the other times that Caroline has decided she has to poop or pee:
-Taking off or landing of a flight
-waiting for the luggage to arrive to the carousel
-waiting for the school bus
-waiting for a train or subway
-after putting on a leotard and tights
-5 minutes into playing in the snow, fully decked out in snowsuit, boots, hat and mittens
-in the waiting room at the doctor's office
-a minute after getting into the hot tub
-a minute after getting into the lake or pool
-while we drive in a snowstorm
-during a hike in the woods
-during a family photo shoot
-in the middle of a meeting I've dragged her to
-right after tucking her into bed
-during a horse riding lesson

I think my very favorite time is when she tells me that she has to poop approximately 10 minutes after going pee. And when I stand for 25 minutes either outside the door (always a single bathroom where other people have to wait in line behind us) or in the corner where I'm asked to look at the wall and not at her. And then she tells me she doesn't have to go. So we leave. Then 10 minutes later she changes her mind and tells me she really does have to go.

It seems that a good 45% of our activities together involve going to the bathroom. Or not going to the bathroom but just being in the bathroom. Adding a toddler to the bathroom party has added to the fun. While Caroline ponders whether to pee or poop on the pot, Charlotte crawls on her hands and knees under the dirty public bathroom stalls, pulls the sanitary napkin holder off the wall, and most recently, sticks her hand in the toilet and sucks her sister's urine from her fingers. Tell me I'm not the only parent who has these stories, please!

I haven't even gotten started on how much time Andy spends in the bathroom. At least he doesn't ask me to come in with him and stare at the wall while he does his business.

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