To all the parents out there who have battled toddler potty troubles, this one’s for you. While this post is chock full of funny, it is in no way meant to make fun of the actual situation we were in. It was dire, and attempts to find answers online turned up short. This post is intended to illustrate what worked for us, because something did in fact work!
One of my boys was a finicky toddler bugger. Capable of throwing a complete fit over a starchy shirt, a fresh hair cut, a random fly in the house, or (heavens) any type of mess! Example: Once, when he was about 2, his Sunday school class did this adorable Christmas project where they slathered paint on their cute little foot, stamped it onto a piece of construction paper, and turned it into an angel. Above the foot print was written, “An Angel Came to Mary..” Many a parent received an adorable keepsake that afternoon. I received this:
Teacher: “I’m really sorry, but he wouldn’t let me paint his foot.”
Still a keepsake, but also a reminder of how strongly adversed to new sensations my little love once was.
Apparently this also applied to the sensation of firm poos… Which inevitably led to the day he decided he would never poop again.
He pretty much potty trained himself around 30 months without much trouble (yes, we were VERY lucky). Two weeks before his 3rd birthday, he got really sick and didn’t eat much for a few days, which meant he also didn’t poo for a couple days. When he finally did go on a Tuesday morning, it was painful. From that moment forward he decided that he didn’t want to pass another poo. Ever. Not on a potty, not in his underwear, not in a diaper, not on the floor, or in bed, or anywhere. He would just do a crotch grab, contort himself into odd shapes, bounce up and down, and scream and cry, but would not let it out.
By Friday evening, his body was free from illness but full of something else. It was making demands of him to which he would not concede. He was up late screaming, crying so hard he couldn’t breathe. Sitting him on the potty was heartbreaking.
Chris ran to the store at 1am and brought back some children’s laxatives and liquid suppositories. We relieved him of his potty prison and fed him some laxatives. We waited. Nothing. Waited some more. Nothing… Please, Lord, not the bulb.
The bulb. I’ll spare you the details.
That nifty little torture contraption proudly states that it works within MINUTES. Dear writer of outer package advertising, be glad you are anonymous. Do a dance.
Again we waited. And again, his sphincter control prevailed. Apparently, between the bucking boy and the virgin parents, we did not properly administer it.
We put him to bed, laxatives in both ends, and we prayed a prayer together we have never prayed before. Dear Lord, please let us be suddenly wakened to a violent mess. Amen.
No such luck. He woke around 7 on Saturday morning, smiling and asking for breakfast. SERIOUSLY? We served him a bowl of seeds and prunes, with a side of prune juice and 3 more laxatives.
Hours later still nothing. This boy is good.
But his body was begging him otherwise. He was miserable, contorted, and constantly squealing with discomfort. We couldn’t leave the house, or the living room for that matter. We plead and bribed, soothed and empathized, calmly negotiated and screamed along with him, but his fear of death-by-potty won every round. Our nerves were no match and the trauma of the situation was growing. Ill-timed internet research added horror to the madness: maybe our kid will be drinking Miralax like morning coffee, some children have to be pumped every other week, sure this sounds like a good moment to find out this can last into his teens!
It’s the ER or it’s another bulb. We opted for the latter.
I can say with honesty that I’m surprised DCF didn’t come knocking. Our poor baby! But this time IT WORKED.
THANK THE GOOD LORD! Never in my life did I think I would ever be so excited that my child pooped. I wanted to call everyone I knew, go skipping down the street shouting, HE POOPED! HE POOPED!!!!! Can I get a P?! Can I get a double O?! Can I get a… Ok, I’ll stop.
Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived because he held it again for the next two days. On the third day I started to accept that this was going to be a long-term battle. He was doing his grab and dance, crying in pain and saying he needed to potty, but wouldn’t let it happen.
Completely out of inspiration, stamina, you name it… I jokingly told him, “You’d BETTER NOT go on the potty!” He laughed hysterically and it immediately became a game. This couldn’t possibly work, could it? He laughed his way onto the potty and cracked up as I scolded him NOT TO TOOT. We sang vile potty songs and he LITERALLY LAUGHED it right out of him. Are you kidding me? It was too easy! Too enjoyable!! For all of us!
A few days later there I was, on his 3rd birthday, sitting on the bathroom floor singing, “Row Row Your Poop” and “Mary Had a Little Toot.” I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to keep the game up, but I didn’t care one tiny bit. When I should have been celebrating his big day, I was far more excited (we all were) about his bum.
As the year continued, I used the vile potty song method for every poo until close to his fourth birthday. For a few months following his first “incident” he would hold his bowels until every third or fourth day when he would succumb to my comical magic. I became so wildly fluent in transforming innocent Mother Goose rhymes, I’m convinced every third grade boy on the planet would be quite jealous. Public restrooms were another comedic experience altogether. Picture: moms covering precious little girl ears and other moms whispering laxative advice through the stall. Hush, woman, you’re messing with my FLOW!
It took about a year for him to completely shake his fear, but he has since entirely grown out of it. Hindsight is hilarous.