The Potty Training Tales

Despite my mother’s sound advice of never reading parenting books (except the scriptures), I insisted on reading a potty training book by a parenting expert that I generally agree with.

Boy was that a mistake. It suggested an all-out approach to potty training and suggested doing it at an age that I now feel is far too young to potty train.

So we’re not going into the things I tried that went wrong at first. I want to talk about the things I did that ended up working. Because that’s the kind of mood I’m in tonight.

I started small. After everything went wrong the first time, I gave it a few months, and I started on levels that didn’t stress me out. That meant that we worked on going potty only at home and only while she was awake. If I was having a bad day, I just put her in a diaper and called it good. She didn’t wear pants or underwear while we were working on it, and I used a toddler potty so she could take ownership and go by herself. The most effective way to get her to go at first was to sit her on a toddler potty while she watched My Little Pony. She would end up going at some point during the episode and I would praise her for going in the potty.

Gradually, we worked up to her recognizing that she needed to go and sitting on the potty all by herself. Then I added underwear, which was a few steps back and a few steps forward for a while. Then I added pants. Then, I started taking her out without a diaper. After a little trial and error, we’ve gotten it down pretty good. And when I say gradually, I mean gradually. We moved forward when I felt like it and she seemed ready, and at this point we’ve been working on it for around four months. Accidents are infrequent, and I can now take her out and be reasonably certain she won’t need a new pair of pants. She is still wearing a diaper at night and during naps, and I’m willing to do that until she starts waking up dry. I’m in no rush.

Some things that I found helpful: never ask a toddler if she needs to go potty (the answer is always no). If I see her holding it, I tell her to go sit on the potty. If she doesn’t listen I lead her over to the potty, help her with her pants and ask her to sit down and try. And if we’re about to go out, I tell her that she has to sit on the potty and try to go. Asking her to “try” going potty seems to be more effective than asking her if she needs to go or telling her to sit on the potty; it seems like she’s alright with giving it a go as long as it’s ok if she doesn’t need to go after all. Occasionally she doesn’t go, but 90% of the time she’ll go if I’ve asked her to try. If she doesn’t go, I just say “Thanks for trying,” and don’t make a big deal about it.

In fact, not making a big deal about it has been the biggest asset for me. By doing it gradually and still relying on diapers, it wasn’t a crisis if she wasn’t making progress fast. And if she or I had a bad day, I just put her in a diaper and tried again the next day. Since I was laid back about it, I wasn’t pressuring her and she didn’t resist. When she has an accident, I just say, “Remember, pee and poop go in the potty. You can try again next time.” That’s it. No biggie.

The nice thing about the toddler potty, is that now she can pull her pants up and down (although sometimes she requests help) and sit on the potty all by herself with no help from me. Most of the time I don’t even know she’s gone. She even dumps it into the big potty all by herself sometimes. This independence has a bit of a downside, because she never tells me that she needs to go when we’re out. But I’ve found that if I ask her to go before we leave, and just give her a chance to go potty every 1-2 hours after that, we can go out for hours at a time and have no accidents.

Feeling confident that my toddler can go out without a diaper is a really great feeling. I’m glad it’s gone so well.

Origin Story

Ruby had a poopy diaper before bedtime last night, and as she was stalling before bed she was telling me about “Poop on the butt.”

Me: Yes, well, that’s where poop usually comes from. The butt. Actually…it’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s a good start.

Kyle: I dunno, it seems pretty straightforward, poop comes from butts.

Me: Actually, all poop was originally formed in the heart of a star…

And that is a point that you can neither argue with nor take anything seriously after. So that was the end of that.

Big Boy Sherman

This week Sherman started sitting independently.

I have never been very sad or nostalgic when Ruby hits milestones; I have always been excited and enthused at her new abilities and independence. I never wished to go back to her baby days. But for some reason recently, as Sherman grows bigger and starts doing things like eating foods (boy lives on a steady diet of milk and cheerios, I’m afraid I’m turning him into his father) and sitting independently, I find myself feeling very differently. I find myself with a desire to blubber and moan about how he’s my widdle baby boy and who said he could get so big and sit and start eating and I want to moan and sob and cry and…

Seriously, where did my sweet baby newborn boy go? Wasn’t be born, like, yesterday? Why can’t he go back to being content to snuggle and sleep all the time; why does he have to want to play with toys and interact with other things and people?

I don’t try to understand the complex emotions that go with motherhood. I just go with them. And sniff a few times as my baby boy grows up.

I Found This On the Bed and Other Stories

We’ve begun transitioning Sherman into sleeping in Ruby’s room. Thus far it has only been naps, but Ruby’s taken very well to the idea that the crib is now Sherman’s and that they will soon be sharing a room. When I sit down to nurse Sherman before his nap, Ruby runs around putting the room to rights for a nap. She turns on the nightlight, the fan, and the humidifier–all things that must be on before she takes a nap or goes to bed. The nightlight is a bit of a story, because I made a conscious effort to get her used to sleeping in the dark so that she wouldn’t be afraid of the dark. I only turned her pink flower nightlight on at night when she woke up so that I could see, and then I’d turn it off again as I left. Then one night, she told me, “Dark scary.”

“Do you want me to leave the flower on when I go?”

“Yeah.”

And so the flower nightlight has been on ever since. Shortly afterwards she insisted that it stay on during naps as well. I mostly think she likes looking at it during the day, and during the night she likes to have light to play by when she’s not ready to go to sleep yet. Since we’ve transitioned her into her Ruby-sized bed, I often hear her playing quietly before she goes down for a nap or for the night. I frequently find a pile of books on her bed or on her chair the next day.

She’s also developed a love of cuddling on my lap while snuggling under a blanket. It’s gotten to the point that at night when she calls for me, I usually find her standing by the door holding a blanket asking, “Blanket?” As in, I want to cuddle under the blanket for a bit before I go to bed again. It’s too adorable to say no to.

Tonight, though, she called for me and I went in. She held up a book and asked, “Book?” Then she reached down, handed me a bolt, and said, “Found dis on de bed.” It turns out, that it’s a bolt from her toddler bed that she removed and then gave to me. I put the bolt back in, but I can’t find the nut that goes with it. She says she remembers it, but can’t remember where it is now. I checked the other bolts, and found another loose one. I think she’s been working on them for a while.

The Sauce in the Child

Ruby has begun to really show off her personality. As I watch her, I see more than a little bit of myself in her. This makes me amused and horrified in turns.

Some of it is seeing the way I discipline mirrored back at me. “No! No no no no no!” may be a bit more excessive and expressive than I would usually do it, but a “No!” accompanied with a shaking pointer finger is definitely my first defense against naughtiness. The problem is that she has taken to saying this and waving her tiny finger at anybody who is doing something she doesn’t want. Sherman has touched a toy that is hers? “No!” *shakes finger* I tell her it’s time to stop watching her show and eat breakfast? “No!” *shakes finger*

She don’t take no guff. I’m sure some of this is her age and some of it is just her little personality, but her will is not bent easily, and her desires are hard to divert. She wants what she wants and that is the end of it. I happen to think these are wonderful traits in general, but they need refining with manners, sympathy, empathy and grace (things not prevalent in two year olds). It’s good to stand your ground and be firm in your convictions, but it’s not good to steamroller other people in pursuit of your own desires.

She is a protective Mama Bear. The other day we were visiting a friend of mine whose son is one, and as such he hasn’t mastered the idea of “gentle” with a baby. (It was actually refreshing to see that Ruby IS more gentle with Sherman; it was nice to feel like she has internalized some of what we’re trying to teach her). So he would push, sit on, try to poke Sherman’s eyes, steal his binky…one year old shenanigans. But every time Ruby saw him being rough with Sherman, that little finger would come out, she would holler, “No! No no no no!”, and rush to push the one year old away from Sherman. I tried to tell her that my friend and I were taking care of it, but she wouldn’t hear of it. SHE had to be the one taking care of Sherman.

I had a moment of frustration the other day when, after a long morning with the kids, Ruby was screaming (and her worst screams make my eardrums resonate, so I really hate it when she screams like this). So I yelled at her. “Stop crying!” I yelled, and tossed her into her room until we could both calm down. For the rest of the day, however, whenever Sherman would start to cry, Ruby would run up to him, put her hand over his mouth, and holler right in his face, “Stop crying!”

Ugh. It was so humiliating. I got to watch a less than stellar parenting moment repeated by a two year old over and over again all day. It seems so much less justified when a two year old is doing it to a baby. And it turned into one of those frustrating reminders that your children are watching you and will internalize your bad habits. Why can’t she copy all of the moments BEFORE the shouting where I was patient and calm?

She is turning into a firecracker…I guess with how she was as a baby, I shouldn’t be too surprised. It’s proving to be an adventure.

The Cold of Doom

We’ve had the cold of doom running through my family this month. Since the day before Halloween, somebody’s had it or just gotten over it.

What? It’s almost Thanksgiving? It’s almost like my November disappeared in a haze of coughing, post-nasal drip, fever, and fatigue. Just how I wanted to spend it!

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Ahem.

The good news, however, is that at this moment nobody is sick or appears to be coming down with anything. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it stays this way. Here’s to less sickness and TV-watching in the next few weeks. (In related news, Ruby has memorized all the songs in Nightmare Before Christmas, or as she calls it, “Pumpkin King!”)

Ruby’s Day

Yesterday was a notable day for Ruby for a number of reasons.

First of all, it snowed. Big fluffy flakes dusted the ground outside and she kept running up to the window exclaiming, “It’s snowing! It’s Christmas!” I tried to explain that Christmas is still a little while away, but the next time the window caught her eye…”It’s Christmas!”

When we went outside to play, she ran around saying, “There’s snow everywhere!” She effectively learned how to make and throw snowballs without any primers from me, as well. I guess some things are just instinctual.

Then last night was the big night where she officially moved from her crib to her toddler bed, or as we called it, her “big girl bed.” Ruby, ah, has never been an easy child, so I was dreading this transition for her. I’ve been putting it off for a while, but the bottom line is that we can’t evict Sherman from our room until he’s got a crib to sleep in. Which means that Ruby needed to move up to her big girl bed.

In anticipation of her many attempted escapes, I bought a baby proof lock for her door handle, which is of the lever variety. What I learned upon installing it, though, is that the lever locks can’t be opened from the other side of the door. This meant that if we put the lock on the inside of the room, she’d be stuck. We may have learned this the hard way. But after we got Ruby out of the room, I removed the lock and switched the door handle so that now it locks from the outside. Ruby had watched me install the lock and hadn’t appreciated being stuck in the room, so when I’d removed the lock she inspected it. “That’s much better,” she told me.

I then got her bed all made up with sheets, blankets, and a real pillow. Ruby was thrilled about it, and she came out to the front room and told Kyle, “Going to bed. Good night,” and walked back into her room. We had to pull her out again to brush her teeth and get jammies on, but after the bedtime routine, I put her down in her bed and came out front anticipating the onslaught of toddler escapes.

And heard not a peep. She went straight to sleep. Didn’t get out of bed once.

This morning we were congratulating her on being such a big girl and sleeping in her big girl bed. Ruby then says to us, “Um, it’s Ruby Sized Bed.”

So, excuse me, Ruby did great last night in her “Ruby Sized Bed.” Here’s hoping it sticks.

Halloween

So this month, we’ve been preparing Ruby for Halloween. We visited a “Punkin patch” twice, and after the second time Ruby understood and thing or two about “punkins.” For example, one pumpkin is a “punkin”, but two or more pumpkins is a “punkin patch!” Even if it’s on your doorstep.

According to this definition, Utah is rife with pumpkin patches.

The day of Halloween, when Ruby woke up I told her that it was Halloween so we were going to watch a Halloween movie. She was over the moon about this idea, and we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas together. It was a hit. We dressed up as Raggedy Ann and Andy, because Raggedy Ann is Ruby’s lovie doll. We were super adorable.

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We went Trick of Treating on Center Street in Provo, which does Trick or Treating from 3-6pm, which was perfect timing for us. It also meant that we didn’t get that much candy, which was also great. We’ve kept Ruby’s candy in her pumpkin basket in another room, and whenever she wants candy she comes up to me and says, “Candy? Trick or treat?” which makes my heart melt every time.

Halloween was a success! And now Ruby’s looking forward to Christmas. Evidently Thanksgiving isn’t exciting enough to warrant remembering, according to two year old logic.

Things Ruby has Learned Recently

This week, Ruby has learned how to:
Open round doorknobs, specifically the one that gets her into Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom
Open the door to my room while I was showering, and join me in the shower (She didn’t like it; water falling from the sky is not Ruby Approved)
Climb into Sherman’s bassinet
Climb out of her crib to come hang with me during naptime
Unscrew spice containers and spread basil and thyme all over the kitchen

None of these activities were Mommy Approved. But somehow they all happened anyway.

But then she pulled out a set of Kyle’s scriptures, called them “Scrippers”, opened them, and read “And came pass” on every page she turned to. Then she wanted to sing “Jesus Songs?”

She’s lucky she’s so dang adorable.

Lime Wedges

I made Pad Thai for dinner, so we had lime wedges as a side to drizzle the juice on top. Ruby didn’t seem to get the purpose of the limes and decided to take a wedge and just eat it. So she’d take a bite, and then she’d make the most delightful sour face.

Another bite. Another sour face.

She did it three or four times before she decided that limes were not her thing.

But kudos for trying, right?