Another proud potty training moment

The Boy’s little potty plays music and applauds when a sensor inside is triggered by any, um, activity. It’s a bit strange, yes, but he doesn’t mind it, and it’s supposed to help provide positive affirmation to aid in potty training efforts.

I like it because it’s an alert that he may actually be doing something while he sits on his little potty.

Well, this morning, after his potty sang a little song and congratulated him for doing something, I asked if he was finished and needed me to clean him.

His response: “No, there’s still something inside.”

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The morning commute

This morning, as I was driving to The Boy’s school, I heard a faint but familiar sound coming from the back seat.

I glanced at him in my mirror and saw that his face was red and his eyes tearing. “C___,” I said, “are you pooping?”

“Uh-uh,” was his reply.

“Are you sure? Mommy thinks you’re pooping.”

He scowled at me and pointed forward.

“Drive!”

Potty training and bribery (Don’t judge me)

Potty training is a painfully slow process. One of these days, I’m sure I’ll reflect upon this time and think, “Wow! It was really that much of a battle?” And that’s when I’ll be glad I can reread my own words and say, “Yes, it most certainly was.”

The Boy has very little interest in the potty. He uses the potty at school, but it’s not consistent, and he has almost no desire to use it at home. It can be frustrating aggravating.

And, of course, the experts all say that you should let your child lead the way, that you should never push the issue, that you should praise him for successes and kind of gloss over the failures.

I would love to praise successes. They’re just so few and far between, and The Boy really doesn’t seem to care that we’re excited about him going pee in the potty.

But I’ve discovered that he will sit on the potty in exchange for toys. Cute Husband went to the Dollar Store and picked up a few little toys to use as bribes, and there are some larger toys (including a battery-powered James) that we’ve explained he will not get until he poops in the potty.

I have no doubt that he will eventually use the potty all the time, but I’m really hoping we don’t go bankrupt trying to get him there!

Doing something right?

The Boy threw me for a bit of a loop this morning.

You see, our AM routine is pretty standard. He wakes up, we snuggle for a little while, he may or may not take a shower with his dad, he gets a new diaper and new clothes, and then he eats. After he eats, if there’s still enough time, he’s allowed to watch one (and only one) 20-minute program (of his choice) so that I can get dressed to go to work.

Today, however, this little routine was shaken a bit.

We did fine until it was time to eat. He eagerly ate a banana (though Cute Husband wasn’t allowed to give it to him – “No, Da-ee! Mama gets!”), then proceeded to play with his cereal. He started putting Cheerios into his milk (I’ve been having him eat dry cereal to be washed down with a glass of milk), which only meant I needed to show him how to eat cereal with milk. He got the hang of it pretty quickly, then after five bites, decided he was done with cereal and wanted yogurt. One food at a time is my rule, though, so I had him finish his cereal before I took out the yogurt.

I opened the yogurt, he took one bite, then took off running. “No Blues Clues unless you finish your breakfast, Little Man,” I said to him. Usually, this results in a scowl and a slow walk back to the kitchen to finish his food. Not today. No, today he looked at me, shrugged, and took his plastic carrier containing the Gabba Friends and their train cars.

“Help, Mama, please?” he half-demanded from the family room.

“No,” I said firmly. “I won’t help you until you finish your yogurt.”

He responded with a frown, came back to the kitchen for one bite of yogurt, then returned to his toys and partially unzipped the pouch himself.

So, he didn’t need me after all.

Once again, I threatened him with no TV – and then it dawned on me that he was engaging in free play on his own. Yes, he was playing with licensed characters, but he was creating his own world. I was suddenly reminded of an article I wrote earlier this week about the waning trend of overscheduling your kids, and another article I read about the need for kids to have occasional unplugged days at home.

And here I was, put off because it threw me off my regular schedule.

After that realization, I went to my bedroom and changed my clothes. He joined me as I was brushing my hair.

“Mama? Brush?” he asked as he opened the drawer, reaching his little hand into it for a hair brush. I slid it closer to his fingers, he grabbed it, quickly ran it twice through his hair, then returned it. “Shoes, Mama,” he reminded me. I put on my shoes, and he ran out of the bedroom.

I paused in the kitchen to grab my bag (forgetting my cell phone in the process), but he was waiting for me in the hall.

“Mama! Come on!” he said.

And as he ushered me out the door into the garage, I was suddenly grateful for those few moments he opted to creatively play on his own.

“And if you’re good, Dr. W might let you play with the otoscope!”

The Boy’s 2-year checkup was this morning. At 34 inches and 27 pounds 5 ounces (weighed without clothes and shoes, of course), he falls right in the 50th percentile in both height and weight. And yet, he always seems so much bigger to me!

When we signed in this morning, the office staff immediately greeted him (“C___! Gosh, you’re getting so big!”) and remarked that it’s been some time since he was last at their office. Thankfully, he’s been quite healthy and hasn’t needed to visit for a few months. We weren’t there long before Nurse K called us to the back where he was measured and weighed.

While we waited for Dr. W, I put The Boy’s shoes on his feet (“Pant!” he ordered, pointing to his shorts, relenting only when I explained that we would put on his pants later) and let him walk around the office. (The spinning stool is always a hit.) Every now and then, I’d pick him up and let him look at himself in the mirror or examine some of the artwork on the walls, and whenever we got near the medical equipment on the wall, I explained that these weren’t for little hands to touch.

Dr. W entered the room as we finished washing our hands (he insisted on running his hand down the chair legs), and The Boy immediately clung to me, only shyly peeking at the good doctor. “You remember Dr. W,” I said gently to The Boy. “And if you’re good, Dr. W might let you play with the otoscope!” The doctor laughed and promised The Boy that yes, he would be able to play with it, and I explained that I’m trying to teach The Boy real words, and that “otoscope” is probably a better word for him to use than “flashlight-thing-that-puffs-air”.

Dr. W and I chatted a bit about The Boy’s appetite, his sleep patterns, his general behavior, and nosebleeds. He let The Boy play with the stethoscope after he checked his heartbeat and breathing, then briefly let him hold the ophthalmoscope. “C___,” he explained, holding up the tool, “this is an ophthalmoscope. It’s got a pretty flashlight in it, and I use it to check your eyes.” Then, sure enough, he showed The Boy how to squeeze a bulb and puff air from the otoscope.

All in all, Dr. W was very pleased with The Boy’s development. He said that he could see The Boy is a very intelligent child by the way he interacted with the medical equipment and gave me some suggestions of fun science experiments to conduct using Alka Seltzer tablets. He also told me that I can expect to see a gradual shift from baby to little boy in the next few months. “It will go back and forth,” he warned me, “but by the time he’s 3, you’ll see he’s definitely not a baby anymore.”

After I dressed him, he led me out of the office and waited impatiently for us to check out. Then he held my hand and led me outside, taking me to my car, then chatted about his visit to the doctor’s office the entire way to school.

No, he’s definitely not a baby anymore.

Already making a wish list…

Our typical Sunday morning paper routine involves removing the ads from the news, then putting the news in the recycling bin and combing through the ads. Normally, The Boy has very little interest in any portion of the Sunday paper, but there was a Toys ‘R’ Us ad this past Sunday.

Several times on Sunday, I caught him intently studying the ad. He’d hone in on one item, then stare at it, analyzing every part of it. Of course, the ad was full of things he loves: a 7-piece drum set (out of our price range right now), several backyard sets (no room on our lot), various Thomas the Tank Engine toys… Each item was carefully scrutinized, and it was as though he weighed all the choices on the page before calling out, “Mama! Da-ee! Dis!” and pointing to his item of choice.

Yesterday morning, he spread open the ad on the couch, then stood before it, staring at each of the pictures. He propped one arm on the ottoman and leaned into it, adjusting his stance from time to time. I watched him from the kitchen as I dried and put away dishes, careful not to disturb him with my presence. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was really only about five minutes), he looked up, caught my eye, and beamed. “Mama! Mama! Mama!” he said, running to me, the ad flapping beside him, clutched in his tiny fist.

He threw his arms around my leg, then motioned for me to sit down. “Down!” he commanded. When I obliged, he turned around and backed into my lap, spreading open the ad for me to see. “There!” he said excitedly, pointing to the Thomas the Tank Engine table (currently on sale but both out of our price range and too big to store anywhere in our house).

“Yes, I see! That’s a very nice table!”

“Thomas,” he said, correcting me. “Mama! Thomas!”

I wouldn’t dare ask him if he wanted it. I know full well what the answer would be. Instead, I smiled, nodded, and said, “Yes, Baby, that’s a very nice table where Thomas can play!”

He seemed content enough with that response. He handed me the ad, jumped out of my lap, and turned his attention to his Yo Gabba Gabba! friends.

I caught him looking at the ad again this morning. Thankfully, it was a different page, but it was with the same intense concentration.

This behavior is eerily similar to mine in the weeks leading up to Christmas or my birthday. And with The Boy’s second birthday only days away, it’s almost like he knows!

“Mama! Up! Eat!”

Those are the words that have propelled me out of bed in the mornings lately. He repeats himself, a little louder each time, and isn’t above yanking the covers off my previously sleeping body. Some mornings, he even finds my glasses and thrusts them into my hands.

“Mama! This! On!” he commands.

Though I often wish he would let me be and find his own breakfast, I have to remind myself how precious are these moments – how fleeting is this stage of his. I drag my tired body out of bed and follow him out of my bedroom, pausing only long enough for him to turn off the television.

“S’dark!” he announces as he makes his way to the kitchen. “Mama! S’dark!”

“Yes, Baby,” I reply, reaching for the light switch. “And do you know why it’s dark? It’s dark because the rest of the world is still sleeping.”

He scowls at me, then walks in his special Toddler Waddle/Walk to his table. “Poon!” he shouts. I help him climb into the chair, then quickly fetch his spoon. His eyes light up, and he licks his lips eagerly with anticipation. I get something from the refrigerator and bring it to him. “Go-yer!” he exclaims happily, almost shrieking. I barely have a chance to remove the lid before he thrusts his spoon into the yogurt.

It really is a joy to watch him eat. He grips the spoon forcefully in his right hand, carefully cradling the yogurt cup with his left. He inserts the spoon, pulls it out, puts it into his mouth, and continues to eat. Sometimes it drips on him (“Uh-oh! Mama! Uh-oh!”), which requires my immediate attention, and he has difficulty scraping out the last bits of yogurt. But, inevitably, he will point to the empty cup and ask, quite pointedly, “More?”

He knows there is more. He knows where to find more. Sometimes he’s content with my explanation that he is only allowed to eat one yogurt for breakfast. Other times, he jumps down from his chair and runs to the refrigerator himself, struggling in vain to open the heavy doors.

When he wants to eat cereal, he’ll bring you the box, but beware: you can’t provide him with enough. When he wants to eat fruit, he’ll tell you (“Each!” “Ban!” “Pum!” “Air!”), and a meltdown may ensue because the fruit isn’t large enough to appease his appetite.

And yet, I can’t imagine another way to start my day. With a few simple commands, he’s able to get me (or my husband) up and moving about – and any thoughts of returning to my warm bed after breakfast are immediately banished, no matter the time.

So he DOES say “no”!

I was thinking the other day how generally easy-going The Boy is. We give him options on what he will wear, we let him decide what he wants to play with, we (try to) listen to him intently (sometimes without understanding a single word), and we take him very seriously.

That last part likely explains why “No!” isn’t something we often hear.

Last night at dinner, he said “no” quite a bit. “Do you want to eat?” we would ask. A stern shake of his head indicated the answer, and that was that. A few minutes later, we’d ask again, only to get the same response. We put him in his chair in front of his chicken nuggets, only to have him leap up and run back to his toys. Finally, I posited the winning question: “Do you want yogurt?” His eyes lit up, and he came running.

I read somewhere that the best way to keep a toddler’s use of “No!” at a minimum is to take his statement very seriously. In our case last night, he wasn’t really indicating that he didn’t want to eat, just that he didn’t want to eat chicken nuggets.

This finally registered this morning when I was dressing him. He awoke with remnants of a nosebleed and wet pajamas (through both of which he slept soundly for 11 hours, despite only having yogurt for dinner), so I quickly changed his diaper and dressed him in a t-shirt. After breakfast, I offered a couple of options for bottoms, and when neither met his approval, I chose a pair of shorts for him. Once dressed (complete with socks and shoes), he looked down at his shorts, grunted and tugged at them, then pointed to the beach pants he had previously scoffed. “Would you rather wear pants today?” I asked. “Ess,” he replied with a nod, then promptly sat down so that I could take off his shorts and dress him in pants.

It completely amazes me, this easy-going nature. I don’t dare claim that he’s a perfect child and never throws a tantrum. Quite the contrary – he refused five times to have his picture taken at school on Monday and is often adamant about wanting certain playthings (drumsticks and Thomas the Tank Engine, to be specific). But when he talks to us and we actually stop, get down to his level, and really listen, it’s like communicating with a little man.

A little man with a limited vocabulary and difficulty with pronunciation, sure, but a little man nonetheless.

Tommy Bear, revisited

A little less than a year ago, The Boy received Tommy Bear from one of my coworkers when he visited me at work. It was the first stuffed animal that he took to, so I ordered a second one from Amazon a few weeks later. I’ve dutifully swapped one for the other so that they could be frequently washed and remain indistinguishable, but The Boy wasn’t insisting on taking Tommy Bear everywhere, so I wondered about my decision to get a second bear.

I can now say that I am elated I did so.

Tommy Bear is a near-constant companion when we’re at home. For the past three mornings, Tommy Bear sat with The Boy at the little breakfast table, and he accompanies The Boy for diaper changes. Tommy Bear was almost fed applesauce yesterday morning and needed to have his own bowl of Cheerios today. I watched this morning as The Boy interacted with Tommy Bear, cuddling and cooing to his bear the same way he’s cuddled and cooed to by me. It warms my heart to see him with his faithful bear!