I don’t want him to notice me typing.
I am in the fight of my life.
We’ve declared an extremely uneasy truce. I am treading very cautiously. Pretending to be light, unencumbered, and interested in other things. But my heart is practically racing.
This is after The Meltdown. At Target. During the ride home. And for a good while after I put him down for a nap. Resumed after the nap.
(The issue is potty training.)
But I feel like something bigger is at stake. Like personal character. Or the development of a law-abiding personality. Or national security.
As most of you know, I raised three girls.
Potty training occurred at an early age with all of them. Everyone was pretty much an easy push-over for Big Girl Barbie panties.
One lure, and that was the end of it. (Almost) no accidents from that point forward.
But this is something completely different.
It’s not only a whole different ballgame, but an entirely different sport. Being played on a different planet.
Obviously, we missed our opportunity. There was a time when he was slightly interested, but there was too much inconsistency and commotion around him. Here, there, and everywhere. This grandmama, that grandmama; this or that auntie or cousin in charge. It was just easier to stick with the diapers. Anyway, all my friends who had boys assured me that they do it much later than girls. Don’t rush him, they advised.
Which was just fine… until he started preschool and we learned that potty training was kind of a prerequisite.
New Flash: Oh my gosh. We just had a false attempt. I was actually dancing around the table, doing a spontaneous rap. I’m not sure I can duplicate it, but it went something like this:
You can do it,
You can do it!
Just gotta put your mind to it!
You can peepee in the potty
‘Cause you are such a hotty.
Now put your body
On the potty
And peepee like a man!
Mimi knows that you can!!!
Sadly, it was all a ruse.
Standing up, the Naked James revealed a bone-dry bowl.
Yes, he’s naked now. Sitting at the “dining room” table, watching a movie on Mimi’s Ipad. Baby potty on the floor beside him.
Waiting to go.
I feel like I’m in a hospital Waiting Room again. Nervously awaiting the outcome.
Because, you see, I’ve put myself on the line. If I cave in, he’ll know that my authority is a sham.
Violating many of my theoretical parenting policies, I am resorting to a bribe. I have purchased a precious prize at Target. He got to hold it in the cart. Then he had to relinquish it back to me… until such time as he wins it.
It is a talking Spencer train.
Even though I thoroughly explained the rules of the contest beforehand, the actual touch of the prize was too much for him. He started to rip it out of the carton the minute he laid hands on it. This delayed gratification thing is hard for all of us. He wants it NOOOOOWWWW. (That is pronounced with two syllables.)
But I think this lesson is critical. He’s got to learn to stick to a bargain. He needs to understand the concept of earning something so he won’t grow to adulthood hindered by an Entitlement Mentality.
What if it doesn’t work? What if it backfires? What if I’ve made a terrible decision that will scar him for life? What if he’s on Dr. Phil one day talking about how his grandmother screwed his head up?
Dear Lord, please let this end well. Please help James go potty*.
How am I going to get him to sleep tonight if he doesn’t win the prize? Will he just scream all night? What if he
“I did it, Mimi.”
Gosh. I was so wrapped up in the worst-case scenarios that I didn’t notice he’s gotten out of his booster seat and sat himself down on the potty.
“I did it, Mimi.”
Okay, I’m going to check. I’m not holding my breath. He claimed to have accomplished the task last time. It’s probably another trick.
“Let’s have a look, James. Show me what’s in the potty.” (I start to yawn. This has been a long day. It’s getting late. It’s…)
Oh, happy, happy day!
Now James can run and play!
You did it,
You did it,
You won the potty prize!
I ain’t telling you no lies
Cause you’re the Potty King
You make Mimi sing!!
High fives!!! High fives!!!
Doing our special crazy dance around the house, James’ face was pure joy.
“I did it, Mimi!”
I felt as proud as if he’d just played The Hallelujah Chorus on a Steinway.
Spencer slept in the bed between us.
Postscript: I’m sure you will be delighted to know that James was able to repeat the performance this morning. When I picked him up from school, he was wearing the same clothes he started out in! This is nothing short of a miracle. His mommy was so proud when we went to the hospital to pick her and Daddy up. Home after six days!
*(Yes, I pray for parking spaces, too. I believe that God cares about all the details of our lives.)