The Proof is in the Pooping

This is the continuation to Slave to the Potty.

We are now eight weeks into Pacifique’s life of diaper-free living and things are very different from I expected they would be at this point. But I am getting ahead of myself.

THE FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL (& The diaper denial flashback)
When I left off last time, I was faced with the task of dropping off Pea for her first diaper-free day at school. Having not yet succeeding in mastering pooping, I really wanted to get a good track record early on of no pee accidents so that should she eventually poop in her panties, they wouldn’t have any other recriminations to make. Yes I was gaming the system. I am not proud of this fact, but a mother does what she has to in order to make things work.

I was also obsessed with the fear that they might decide to put her in diapers against our will. Our whole approach was based on the fact that we had said “good bye” to diapers and that we had no diapers in the house and that she was now a big girl and didn’t need them. This is important on a lot of levels but mostly if you face –and from what I’ve heard most of you will- the moment where your child starts any one or more of the following: crying, pleading, begging for a diaper while clutching their bum, it’s pretty horrible. I think this is more likely to happen the older the child is as they tend to be more set in their ways. But hey this is totally non scientific and just my hunch.

I sort of go back and forth on this. There is much on not pushing a child and intellectually that makes sense to me. That said I knew P was ready and sometimes in life some things aren’t comfortable but you have to push past the fear to realize there is nothing to be afraid of. I was surprised initially when sometime during the first day she asked for a diaper. I held strong and explained that we just didn’t have any more since she was now a big girl. Then of course I was really surprised when she only asked one more time – and I can’t remember if it was later that day or sometime during the next – but never asked again. That was it! I think if I had given her one diaper once, then I would have opened a Pandora’s box of shit (no pun…), turning potty training simply into a battle of wills vs. learning how to recognize the signs of when your body needs to go and how to release on command.

Ultimately this worked for us and so you can see my apprehension at the thought of a new place, a mini toilet instead of the now trusted potty and no one keeping an eagle eye on P leading to an accident and the reappearance of diapers. Like any committed parent, I dropped her off at school and took her teacher aside, trying to hold her attention whilst competing with a handful of munchkins to quickly explain our approach and assure her that P would be fine – my confident tone obscuring how I truly felt about the whole thing. And like any good parent, I totally chickened out of picking her up as the anxiety of finding out what had actually happened and being met with the disapproval of her teachers should she have peed herself was just too much for me. So I took the cheater’s route made available to me only because we live in Singapore and sent our helper to get her. Of course everything was fine and she was amazing and had no accident. She did initially refuse to go in their mini toilets at the assigned toilet break/diaper change time but her wonderful teacher noticed her later clutching her crotch and coaxed her into going and voilà – the next major milestone achieved!

The next few weeks all sort of melt together. (Gee could you imagine a play by-play? I’d die from the tedium and probably face Kevorkian-style charges for assisting in mass reader suicide.) What comes to mind when I think back, is how well Pea seemed to do during the daytime and what a nightmare nights were, which is funny as in the beginning nighttime was what seemed to be the most stress-free.

MOMENTS WORTH MENTIONING
+         Within a few weeks, we really didn’t need to prompt her about “telling us if she needed to pee” as she very quickly would just speak up when needed. We had a couple of ‘raised eyebrow’ moments when she insisted going down for a nap without peeing first but were pleasantly surprised as she either came out shortly after to ask to pee or would just manage to hold it through nap time and sometime after until she decided she needed to go. If ever I had a cartoon character moment with my jaw dropping 5ft to the ground, this was it.

-         Poop was increasingly becoming an issue. We did have a couple of successes (literally couple – 2 while she was consciously awake) but poop started being a nap thing. She would go into her room and pretend to go down for a nap. She would actually play really quietly until she felt the need to poop and then do so in her panties and then call out to us to be changed. Or on a really bad day, she would poop herself, we wouldn’t hear her and she would try to fall asleep without getting poop all over herself in the most awkward positions  – poor kid, I really hated myself those days. I even ended up trying to use the old school camera I mentioned in part 1 – but when I noticed her get suddenly still, I never managed to get there fast enough – and even if I did, she would cry out and REFUSE to go near the potty. :( She was so well-intentioned, after pooping yet again in her panties she would say  “two nights, two nights I’ll poop in potty and you will give me egg and I will close my eyes and get egg in my hand and I will eat the chocolate and get the little toy.”

Promises promises.

PERSISTENT BEDWETTERS
Along with the lack of successful bowel movements potted, nights went completely downhill. The harder we tried to help her have a dry night, the more she seemed to be having accidents in her bed. From really limiting her intake of evening fluids to trying to wake her up an hour after bed or just before we went to sleep, or when we thought she was always having accidents around 2am, or 3am, or again an hour before she usually gets up, etc.  She was starting to cry when we would wake her. More often than not she would refuse to get out of bed or sit half asleep on potty and do nothing and we would have to carry her back to bed. You get the picture; no matter what we did 5 out of 7 nights, she was wetting the bed. Again I was starting to feel like I deserved the persecuting parent award.

So we get to the point where we are almost one month in and that night, she barely peed before bed but started one of her wondrous panty poops. I cleaned her up, got her to bed. Woke her up 90 minutes later. Here she is barely awake. Gives me two drops of pee and a tiny poop. And I know she is unconscious as she doesn’t ask for an egg.

My poor little girl, she is so exhausted. The bags under her eyes make IKEA’s big blue bag look like a tiny clutch. It is at this point that I decide to wave the white nappy pre-fold in surrender and slip a diaper on her at night. I just want her to get some sleep. I just want to get some sleep. A number of people I trust tell me I should do it – and two days before, one of the nurses at our family practice was telling me how they would slip it on after their son fell asleep so he thought he had gone to bed in regular undies. And I think yes ok then, this is what we must do for all our sakes.

THE RETURN OF THE DIAPER
That night I slipped a pull-up on her and get ready for a good night of rest. I am exhausted after weeks of interrupted nights of sleep and sink into a deep slumber.

Then my eyes pop open in terror as I hear the clink of her spoon against her ceramic cereal bowl in the morning. How do we handle this? We didn’t talk about it? What did Cherry our helper say to her? I can hear she sounds cheerful enough.  I would have expected her to yell out “Cherry I have a diaper on!!!” or something similar but I didn’t hear a thing?! I now realize we didn’t think this through and it is too late.

I make my way out to the dining table where she is having breakfast. I sit down and look at her. I’ve glimpsed that the diaper is still on. She is eating very slowly and looking at me. She is looking at me in a way that she never has before – Like she knows something but isn’t sure if she should say anything lest she ruin a good thing.

There is a huge white elephant in our room and its got HUGGIES written all over it.

Seriously for those of you who saw Mr. and Mrs Smith, it was like the scene when they’ve both figured out that they are contract killers and are trying to act normal whilst watching each other’s every move. Poor Pea – on the one hand she’s clearly hoping that she’s won the lottery and yet must have some inkling that it is just too good to be true.

So what do you think happened next? Call me totally naïve, I had really thought that she might be quite mortified at the sight of herself in diapers. <laughing manically> I was SO WRONG about that. As soon as we suggest she needs to change out of her nappy and into panties she starts crying that she wants her diaper. “Give me a diaper, I want a diaper, etc.” Need I say more?

She was crying, running away from me. I had to tackle her American Football style and TEAR the diaper off. She was FREAKING out. And I sat there wondering what ON EARTH was I thinking. All those weeks of work and we are back to this?!

In the end it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I sat her down on her bed and took her in my arms and I apologized. I told her that it must have been really confusing to wake up in diapers. I told her I should have explained to her before she went to bed that because she was doing so much pee in her bed, the doctor said it might be best to put her in a diaper at night BUT ONLY at night. The doctor was very clear that she is still a big girl and needs to wear her panties during the day. She really likes her doctor so invoking him is almost always a winner. I think she gets that resisting is futile and starts chanting she wants her “coconuts panties” (AKA polka dot panties) and people over on the other side of the island can hear me sigh in relief.

As with everything when raising children, things never seem to turn out as planned or have the effects you think they will. I just figured if we put her in a diaper at night, she would get more sleep and, given her incredible ability to hold poo, she would go back to just pooping once a day but saving it for nighttime. And there would come a day, probably in her early tweens when I would tell her if you want to get your ears pierced, you need to shit in the loo. And I decided I was ok with that.

But that would be too easy.

DRY AS THE SAHARA
My greatest surprise to our reinstating the diaper is that P started waking up dry almost every morning. I’d say since bringing back the diaper 3 weeks or so ago, she has had 3 mornings where she peed in it. (Yes do note she has only PEED in it). And two of those times, she had a really bad cough so I am pretty sure one of her coughing fits led to a full bladder giving in.

Where we are at:

  • She has developed incredible bladder control. So much so that when she finally did have an accident during the day on June 9th at school – I almost couldn’t believe it. It is the only daytime accident on record.
  • We never really need to ask her if she needs to pee though we do throw in the odd precautionary reminder before a long journey or sleeping.
  • On the rare occasion she does pee at night, she will get up, open her closet, take out fresh panties and changer herself out of her diaper and either hand it to you or put it in the dustbin herself.
  • For all our advances in the yellow domain, we seem to be going increasingly downhill in the brown one and I am at a complete loss except for that I am clearly saying all the wrong things.

How do I know I am saying all the wrong things? Well as I was unable to bear hearing her, whilst clutch her tummy, say things like “it’s coming its coming, I don’t want to poo, no potty, etc..” in a desperate tone of voice. I decided to let her have a diaper at a nap time when it was clear she had been holding back the goods for a few days. And instead of taking full advantage of this, she, at the end of her nap, took off her diaper, put on her panties and pooped in the panties. I was actually forced to call my husband to make sure we had in fact put her in diapers before the nap I was so shocked by the turn of events.

Now, the only place she started wanting to poop was in her panties. It would be accurate to imagine me with my head low in my hands with a look of despair. And it only gets worse. I decided to be quite firm about the no pooping in the panties rule: potty or diaper. I felt I was being generous. And instead of being rewarded, now she doesn’t want to poop ANYWHERE.

It could be turned into a Dr. Seuss book:

I will not poo in my pants, I will not poo in the plants. I will not poo in the loo. I do not, do not wish to poo.

Clearly this is still a work in progress for us. But here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from our experience so far

Things to watch out for:

  • Children’s aim – why? Because they don’t have any. You are going to think, and you will be right, that children’s participation is key. Getting them to help empty the potty, flushing the toilet and waving bye-bye to the Pee. But beware, embrace Maradona’s “hand of god” and make sure you guide the potty to the toilet unless of course you don’t mind having a bowl of piss poured on your foot. (And if you don’t, I don’t want to know about it)
  • Splashback – On a similar theme, once they do seem to improve their aim, or even while guiding they have a tendency to want to pour from a great height. Careful – splashback common here. I can attest to pee-splattered pants and arms. Droplets always deem to defy gravity when we need to pee and run out the door.
  • Withholding Poop –This has caused no end to my anxiety. The key is fiber, fiber and more fiber. Despite giving Pea a Buddha belly full of poop; that kid could keep it in. Pediatrician has said as long as she isn’t constipated I don’t need to worry. Anyone who knows me of course will know I am unable to heed that advice.
  • Calling Wolf – Children will use the excuse to wee as their “get out of jail’ card for nap times/ bed times and time-outs. For the former, at least initially I always took her to the potty and for the most part she could muster up a bit of wee but when she would ask again 10 seconds later, I’d tell her that she had just gone and that I would be back in an hour to take her again if needed. The time-outs are tricky. Strictly speaking you should take them and then return them to the time-out. In our case we haven’t done that really as if I can get her to change her attitude/behavior, then I am happy to take her out of timeout – at least for the time being that works for us.

What we would do differently:

  • Rewards – I think I make it pretty clear in part one the drawbacks to rewards. Phase them out as quickly as you can and chose carefully.
  • Dealing with night accidents – I would not have brought back the diaper. I would have first tried stopping the constant night waking and just seen if she got it on her own. Everything indicates that she would have. And if I did end up having to go down the diaper route, I would have explained things to her and have it be a joint decision, not just sprung it on her.
  • Potty vs. proper toilet –I would have tried to get her to just go directly on the regular seat with one of those little travel potty seat adjusters. I don’t know if it would have worked, but I would have wanted to never even show a potty and just make the toilet the place where people go.
  • The ongoing poop issue – I would have really been vigilant about amping up the fiber right from the start. I don’t really know what else I could have done. Everyone says it will come with time. I hope they are right.

For those of you who made it this far, well crikey I should really reward you with kinder eggs! I hope you find some useful bits in here and if anything else, misery and poopy panties love company.

Slave to the Potty, Part 1

When you’re pregnant, you wonder about which diapers to buy; should I go for the time-tested brands? Am I going to go green and if so how green? Disposable green, cloth, prefolds, pockets? Or the new hybrid? Will my baby fit in those cute newborn diapers with the little cut out for their belly button stumps?

But it doesn’t take long; perhaps it’s getting some poop under your fingernails or, for some, that first newborn projectile stream that hits the wall two feet from your changing table. (NO, I am NOT joking), yet another $50 case of diapers, or another really stinky load of cloth nappies that has the lady who works the night shift at the laundromat eyeing you nastily as she suspects your dashes to the machines at the back where it is no less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit indicates you are definitely hiding something – that could be a whole post on its own.

I can’t tell you the day it started for me, but I am pretty sure I bought this lovely blue BabyBjorn potty by the time she was a year old. I knew I could never go down the EC or elimination communication route. Why? Erhum.. well I have a job and even when I am at home, I couldn’t be relied upon to keep such a watchful eye and figure out when my child twitched her left buttock muscle, which equated to her “signaling” she needed to go.

On and off we tried to get her to sit on it. And she went through short phases where she was relatively amenable. Mostly she liked to stand in it, or put it on her head. These were clear signs to me that she was definitely not ready. A good friend of mine who is in emergency pediatrics and a mum of three once told me “don’t even bother trying until she is 2.5 and then get it done fast; it will take a week at most”. I liked the former part of her statement as it allowed me to put  this whole endeavor off and anyone who knows me knows I am an incorrigible procrastinator. The latter, well I’d cross that bridge when I got there.

Fast forward to the start of 2011. P is now rapidly approaching her 3rd birthday and she still seems quite content to sit in her own shit, which never ceases to amaze me given that even my dogs never wanted to sit in their own shit.  At this point, I am starting to think she will NEVER give up her diapers. We’ve had her in a mix of cloth and disposable and as she is perfecting her colors, she suddenly loves choosing which color diaper to wear, more often than not wanting a color that isn’t clean… obviously. I’ve bought a few panties to test them out. She has a few friends who are potty trained and she thinks it is great fun to watch them pee or watch me pee but now definitely wont go anywhere remotely in the vicinity of the potty. And I say to you WTF?

I great sense of despair ensues. I picture her in a pair of Depends going off to college. Then I was told about this 3 day potty training approach one which will not only have her trained during the day but naps and nights as well!  Sounds too good to be true right? Sit tight.

This is where I come clean. I had actually come across this website before getting the recommendation. In short you are not to share the PDF. Clearly, as that would defeat her business model.  It looked like it had been featured in a number of credible places but I couldn’t find anyone I knew who had done it so I was apprehensive. I had started to think I should just buy it when someone did in fact share it with me.  So.. I said to myself, if this actually works, I will go back to the site and “buy a copy” even though I’ll no longer need it.

As we edge ever closer to the Potty Boot Camp date, something happens. We are at a friend’s house for a birthday party and she gets out of the kiddy pool and tells me she needs to pee. I get her to crouch in the grass; at this point I KNOW we are ready.

And now the pièce de résistance!

In short, there are a few things you need to do to make this successful. I won’t go into detail as I don’t want to be in breach of anything but it involves a fair amount of time with just mentally preparing your kid, you then really need to be there for 3 days by their side at all times. The day, nap, night thing is to remove the diapers as a crutch. It is intense, it is I imagine for most incredibly hard work. Like labor and sleep training, you’ll always have one smug schmuck whose kid pops out effortlessly.. (I didn’t even know I was in labor!) or “gets it” immediately whatever “it” may be and their verbal message is “oh how lucky we were”  where the tone implies that they are just that more hardcore and talented at parenting. I know I was one of these idiots with regards to sleep. Oh how I’ve paid for that with #2. But basically prepare for serious boot camp, living, eating, breathing potty time – hmmm an unfortunate phrase in this particular instance. And reaching the point where you just think it will never happen. There is such truth to the that phrase about night being at its darkest before dawn.

I had actually read the manual some time before we decided to actively start. I had been doing the verbal prep work and had removed our potty out of sight. I can’t recall if anything like this is recommended by the program but I thought glamorizing being a big girl could only help – especially since we had a new baby in the house and she had been regressing a little in some ways. P likes to dance so I told her a lot that once she was a big girl and only wore panties, I would buy her ballet slippers and sign her up for a ballet class. (thank you angelina ballerina). At this point doing naps and nights seemed totally unattainable but fortunately my husband who was sent off to Starbucks on day 1 to read the manual after I, exhausted stepped away into kitchen resulted in huge puddle on the floor persuaded me otherwise. He came back totally gung-ho which was useful as with the baby, it really was difficult for me to have my eyes on P all the time.

The Friday before our potty training boot camp, I celebrated the momentous occasion by spending around $80 on nice panties with characters P would like. Yes paying a 40% premium for Disney licensing & such was -on this occasion ONLY- worth it.  Strawberry Shortcake, The Dalmatians, Hello Kitty and one really cute little red bird were to be my first tangible incentives.

Saturday April 30 – aka Day 1
Post Royal Wedding so we are all a bit tired.

  • First thing in the morning I get the girls out of bed. Pacifique who had been pining to wear underwear for WEEKS & refusing her diaper now suddenly doesn’t want panties &  keeps asking for a diaper. They have this uncanny ability to sense when to flip sides.
  • We explain the incentive structure. A star sticker per pee. 5 Stars = a kinder egg. A poop = immediate Kinder egg. The egg is persuasive enough to get panties on and the potty chart goes on the wall. To help get things going, we give her a star for putting her panties on.
  • Down for nap after lunch. Saw her stir (yes we invested in a very cheap old video monitor, so old it wasn’t even meant for kids but more for your car = small TV screen on my bedside table. Went in, got her to potty first successful pee!
  • Accident end of nap
  • Nothing all evening
  • Then another success, a pre bedtime pee!!

At this point I am thinking wow this is going much better than I expected! Lulled into false sense of security, we settle in for an evening of cheesy TV and towards 10.30pm we hear her moving around. I go in to get her and she pees and then before we know it, she has pooped! We are now ready to pat ourselves on the shoulders, declare it all a big success and immediately reward her with promised Kinder egg.

This leads us to nightmare #1:

Now everyone is super excited, super awake. We’ve taken a picture of her with her egg as you can see below and after sloooooooowly savoring that egg and assembling the toy (at which point I am already questioning the sanity of this reward at this hour), she then declares, she wants to pee again.

To giver her credit she manages some more pee. And then asks for an egg. We explain 5 pees = an egg. And so she wants to sit again to pee. And manages a few drops. She is Triumphant. We are exasperated. She starts shouting for an egg. bla bla bla you get the picture. There were tears, cries, pulled out hair – oh and she was pretty upset as well. Sometime after midnight we got her back to bed. Once in our own bed, we decide that now 5 stars will be rewarded with a little non-edible toy.

Sunday May 1, Day 2.
We had put our baby monitor in her room the night before and told her  she should could call out to us if she needed to pee or poop. We figured if we heard her moving we could also go in and just get her on the potty. In short, the monitor  was on the wrong  channel. I heard her crying out while nursing the baby sometime around 6.45am. Hubby didn’t hear anything and by the time I got there and got him up, we had a very wet toddler bed.

  • Mid morning pee. I am getting excited again.
  • Nothing before nap. Feeling nervous. Turns out this potty training thing is proving to be a major emotional roller coaster for me.
  • Towards end of the nap, I climb into her tiny bed with her. She is dry. Until suddenly she is not but it is only a small accident. She self inhibits. I get her to potty and she empties rest of bladder.
  • Nothing for the rest of the day despite our every 6 minute statement “remember to tell maman or Papa if you need to go”. In fact all talk of potty met with extreme negativity.
  • Suddenly she is begging to go to the pool.
  • I take her to the pool
  • I am pretty sure she peed in the pool.
  • She wants to go home. Time elapsed between getting to the pool and leaving pool: 7 minutes.
  • Went to bed with no pre sleep pee.
  • Woke her up before we went to bed. She peed half asleep.
  • By some miracle, we have a dry bed in the morning.

Monday May 2, Day 3
So as we reach day 3, we are supposed to be nearing the end of the potty training. At this point my anxiety is rising. My clockwork pooper has not had a bowel movement since that first glorious night. She is not interested in the potty in  any way, shape or form for most of the day and I am thinking this is just not going to come together.

  • No poop yet but we do get an early morning pee.
  • No pee for the rest of the morning.
  • She agrees to go before nap time.
  • She is woken by huge clap of thunder and instantly pees during the nap.
  • No pee all afternoon and evening. She starts asking for pool again but I don’t take her.
  • No pee before bedtime.
  • Wake her at 11, she pees.
  • Hear her around 4am, take her again; she pees.
  • Still manages to wet the bed at 7am. ugh.

We are now day 4. We should be done with the training. To be fair to the author, she has said you will either be done or have made so much progress that you will want to continue with the plan. At my first waking moment I am not sure.  Again I start off faced with a child who does not want to pee. I am starting to feel that the only time I can get her to go is in the middle of the night when she is barely conscious, hardly what I was hoping for. I am also starting to suspect that my attempts at explaining that water goes in the mouth and comes back out as peepee has backfired as she seems to be refusing to drink anything – even pure juice – put in front of her.

Tuesday May 3, Day 4
She is not interested in going in the morning. And we are due to make our first public outing which I would cancel if I could but it is her new swimming class and they cost a fortune so I am determined to make it. I really don’t want her to have an accident on the bus. I ask her if she needs to go and suggest it is a good idea to try before we leave the house and she says no.

And here is where I, for the first time since having a child, make a straight up bribe:
Me: “Don’t forget to tell Maman if you need to Pee”
P: “No.”
Me: “You might want to Pee before we leave the house”
P: “NO maman, NO potty, No peepee”
Me: “I’ll give you a kinder egg if you pee now”
P: “OK Mama”
She gets up, walks to potty in the bathroom, pulls down panties, pees the most concentrated yellow pee ever, stands up and, with her panties around her ankles, sticks out her hand and says “Give me my egg”
Rather than losing hope I think to myself – Ok she can go if she needs to. We are going to be ok And we head off to the swimming class. Somehow I think this clicks with her too as she starts upping her liquid intake.

The rest of the day goes splendidly well. If you don’t count the lack of any poo. I know that I can’t keep her home forever and that her first day back at school is going to set the tone for whether the school is consistent with my plan and doesn’t try to pressure me into giving them diapers which they have already suggested in an email. So knowing that she is due a giant #2, I decide to keep her home one more day.

Wednesday May 4, Day 5
At this point we are rocking the pee. Rather than enjoy this victory, I am clenched in anguish of the lack of poop. I am stuffing her with fruit, fiber cereal, brown rice and anything else I think might make her go. Naps and nights are hit and miss but I figure this is par for the course living in the tropics with a kid who *really* likes to rehydrate.

At last, Wednesday evening in the bath, she is relaxed enough that she starts to poop. We quickly gets her on the potty with a towel around her and she finishes it there. She is rewarded with an egg but I know that were it not for quick reflexes, we would have had floaters in the bath. Still, at least now I can send her to school for the real test!

End Part 1.
Part 2 Preview: Children’s aim, splash-back, begging for diapers, withholding poop, persistent bedwetters, and what we would do differently.

Quote of the day

I have this post I am working on that was supposed to be a quick post and is turning into a bit of a monster along with other drafts waiting to be finished -such is the plight of a mother.

So in the mean time, I want to capture some of the fun things coming out of Pea’s mouth. The other morning she was heard saying behind her bedroom door, having opened it and seen no one in the living room:

“Mama asleep, Papa asleep, Cherry asleep, baby asleep and I have poopoo in my diaper”

Two things struck me upon hearing this

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if she had said that in French instead of English?
  2. Wow – she shared the fact that she had Poop in her diaper. This makes a nice change from her total denial of poop even when a serious stink is coming from her.

I am choosing not to obsess about the first and rejoice at the second as I am starting to worry at how comfortable she appears to be sitting in her own shit. <sigh>  You have to learn to embrace the little things.

Pea, Pee, Pipi and where it all comes from

There is much debate on when one should start potty training. I have some friends… well a friend who have successfully used “elimination communication” -though I’ll suggest lovingly that she has too much time on her hands to friends who say don’t even bother trying until your child is two and a half. This post isn’t to debate this but the role language plays.

What I realized is that in order for me to consider even starting the potty training process, my daughter needed to be able to put words to it. One could argue that signs would have also worked and given our success using them for other things, I might have pushed this a bit more.

Pacifique (aka Pea) was definitely slow to talk; many say it is because she is being brought up in a trilingual household and this may or may not be true. When she finally did start speaking and body parts and functions entered our terribly limited conversations -if you could even call them that- I quickly realized that she wasn’t differentiating between her ‘bits” and what came out of them.

She would gleefully shout Pipi Pipi to which I would then wonder “do I ask her if she needs to go or has she gone?”. By the time I would whisk off her diaper and realize she was just rejoicing in her newly discovered vagina and the act of peeing couldn’t be further from her mind. Soon after I figured out that Pipi was also being used by her to describe her bum and basically anything related to this area. This was going to be a problem.

After I finally decided on what to call the bits and I wont go into my indecisiveness which no doubt added to her confusion, I tried to focus the words on the acts themselves – in my case the french expression to go “Pipi et Popo”. It became immediately apparent that she then started using Pipi to describe the act of pooping which of course should be Popo. SIGH. So my next idea was to ascribe colors to the acts.

“Ma cherie, le pipi est jaune et le popo est marron” (Pee is yellow, poop is brown) was often heard in our household to which she would reply “pipi, popo, pipi marron, pipi marron”. What can I say, she was obsessed with the fact that Pipi was actually poop and was brown.

This persisted for WEEKS until, I couldn’t believe it, a breakthrough just before her new sister was born when she very matter of fact turned to me on one bathroom expedition and said “pipi amarillo, popo marron” or pipi yellow, poo brown!! I might have fallen over but fortunately I was sitting on the loo.

Things seemed to be finally turning around until her sister was born and she peered into Claude’s newborn diaper and looked at me and said.. accurately ” popo amarillo!” Sigh. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

To anyone without kids yet, newborn breast fed babies have mustard yellow poop. Toilet training can wait just a bit longer and when we do start, I want a potty like the one below.