“I Pee-pee Like Benny”

It is time to potty train my son, and I have committed the designated 10 days to staying home in order to accomplish this task.  He is ready, and more importantly, I am ready.  I have read ALL the books, met with a potty training consultant, come up with a master plan as well as a back-up plan, and have the required charts and diagrams.   He too demonstrates many of the required signs of readiness:  he tells me when he needs to go, he doesn’t like being in a wet diaper, he wants privacy when he poops, and he stays dry for long periods of time.

I have taken the initial steps.  I bought him a little potty, I let him follow me into the bathroom, and I model proper bathroom etiquette. Now it is time to get rid of the diapers and pull up his big boy underwear–but maybe I will keep a few extra diapers in case both plan A and plan B fail.

Seeing as how my son has been following me into the bathroom, he has seen me use the potty as every woman does–sitting down.  So when he finally starts using the potty, he too is sitting down.  I just failed to realize that I will need to work on his aim, as things are spraying upwards.  Other than that, we are on track to mastering this in a few days’ time.  I am following my very expensive consultant’s advice and rewarding him with stickers every time he uses the potty, rather than outright bribing him to use the bathroom.  And yes, there is actually a difference between rewarding and bribing, and that too was quite an expensive bit of information I learned from my behavioral consultant.

Plan A is working just fine.  All the charts and diagrams have been successful.  And my daily updates with the consultant convince me that I am doing well.  What I was not expecting and did not plan for was interference from my husband.  Although my husband is delighted that we will soon be freed of spending our life savings on diapers, he is less than delighted about the fact that his son is using the potty like a girl—sitting down.  He does not seem to notice all the sweat, blood and tears that got me this far.  I have made some major progress:  my son runs to the potty (after I remind him ten times), he pulls down his own pants (after I pull them half way down), and his pee-pee is making it into the toilet (most of the time).  These are all major accomplishments!  So what does it matter if he pees sitting down?boy-toilet

My husband is insisting that I teach my son to pee-pee standing up; like a man!!  But how on earth am I supposed to model that? I don’t even have the proper diagrams to explain that.  If my husband is determined to have his son stand at the toilet, he had better show him how it’s done himself.  I would be more than happy to hand over this task.  But of course, my husband has neither the time nor the patience, and since I cannot possibly demonstrate how it’s done, I let it be.  So yes, I have a little two-year-old boy who pee-pees sitting down.

Months pass and my son is finally in preschool (this day could not have come soon enough).  It is really adorable to see the little toilets at the school.  Just the right size for their little bodies.  And apparently, going to the bathroom in preschool is quite the social activity.  Groups of kids follow each other in to the bathroom, and sit side-by-side conversing while they pee.  Even the ones who are not potty trained go in there just to watch.

A few weeks into the school year, my son comes home and announces that he wants to “pee-pee like Benny!!!”  I am utterly confused. What on earth does that mean?  Does Benny have some special skill that my son lacks?  Was there an honors level of potty training that I did not sign up for?  Are we going to need a tutor to help him catch up?  As my mind runs wild about falling behind so early in the school year I notice my son walking to the bathroom.  I peek through the doorway and see him pull down his pants and STAND at the toilet.  He sees me looking and declares proudly, “See, I pee-pee like Benny.”  I take a big sigh of relief and mentally cancel the appointment with the life coach.  Instead, I think about calling Benny’s dad and thanking him.  And the next time I have a big parenting task at hand I won’t doubt myself so much.  Maybe I won’t need to call my therapist, the life coach, the tutor, and the special consultant.  Maybe I can just let my MomAbility guide me.

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Operation Toy Store

toy store-screen shot

My son is being deployed to a birthday party this weekend, and we need to acquire a gift. But the notion of trekking into a toy store, with my son in tow, is such a daunting thought. Why does the mere idea of going somewhere as delightful as a toy store give me anxiety? I practically break out into hives just thinking about going in there with my kids, knowing someone is bound to come out wounded (usually me!).

Toy stores are like traps! Beautifully packaged, ridiculously expensive toys; games that no wants to play but everyone wants to buy; cute stuffed animals that trigger my allergies; trains and cars that I am bound to step on in the dark of the night. And no matter how many toys we procure, my kids always want more. Now that I think about it, toy stores are like shoe stores. Beautifully gleaming shoes, displayed in just the right light; inexplicably expensive and incredibly impractical; yet unbelievably perfect with that dress I haven’t yet bought. I clearly don’t need any more, and those killer heels will leave me regretful, but I always want another pair.

But this time I am putting my foot down; with my son that is. He is accompanying me to the toy store to buy his friend a gift, and he is NOT getting a new toy. No matter how much he cries, begs and pleads, I will not succumb to the pressure. The best way through this obstacle is through psychological preparation prior to the exercise. He must know that we have one mission, and one mission only—to secure a birthday present without any additional casualties to my pocketbook. And in the aftermath, we will reflect upon the moment and recognize the greater lesson behind it. It might burst his egocentric bubble, but he needs to understand that not every expedition to the toy store is about him. He needs to be able to pick out a gift for a friend without expecting to get one for himself too.

As I park the car, I wipe the beads of sweat that are forming on my forehead. I know the layout of the store pretty well, so if I stay on track we can be out of there in 10 minutes—30 minutes tops! I can even skip the in-store gift-wrapping if I feel a meltdown coming on (mine or his). I look over to my son, and he seems emotionally well prepared for this. Nonetheless, I find the emergency exit just in case I need to scoop him up for a quick escape.

As we walk towards the back of the store, my son stops and picks up a toy car. Man down, Man down!! I hold my breath and watch him out of the corner of my eye. It’s those dammed display contraptions; I knew I should have taken a left turn at the puzzle isle. The displays are meant to keep the kids busy while we shop, but the kids inevitably ask to buy the complicated looped-y-loop racecar track that takes three hours to assemble and half the living room to store. I keep an eye on him while I snatch a toy. He seems content to engage, so I wait for the clerk to wrap the package. I have got my fingers crossed as I start walking to the door that I won’t have to radio in for a rescue team. “Come on, let’s go,” I announce with firmness, all the while praying that he marches out behind me. Just as I turn back, I see him putting the little racecar away and walking towards the door. A sudden wave of relief comes over me and I realize I take my first real breath in 20 minutes. I did it!!! I mean, WE did it!!! We went into the toy store, obtained a gift for a friend, and made it out alive! Wow, I never thought this day would come.

Now, if only I could walk into a shoe store and come out empty handed….Maybe next time I’ll let my MomAbility guide me.

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I Don’t Like My Grandchild’s Name

Dear Alex,

I think I over stepped my boundaries with my son and daughter-in-law and I am not sure what to do.grandmother3

My daughter-in-law is pregnant and we are all so excited. I made an amazing feast and invited them over for dinner the other night. I had to go to three different markets to prepare this meal, but that’s beside the point. As we were enjoying this fabulous meal, they shared with us what they plan on naming the baby. I tell you, I nearly choked on my food!  My daughter-in-law seemed so excited about the name, but… well….. I don’t like it. Actually, I really dislike it. To tell you the truth, I hate it and I don’t want my grandchild to have that name! So I told her. I told her it was a dreadful name, and she would be making a horrendous mistake if she chose that name. She kind of seemed upset at me, but I’m not sure.   Maybe it was just her hormones, but she sort of had tears in her eyes. But I couldn’t help myself. I just could not imagine living with that name. Please tell me I was not wrong in speaking my opinion.


The Grandma of the unnamed child



Dear Grandma,

The mere fact that you are writing to me indicates that you recognize some hint of inappropriateness on your behalf. I understand that you dislike the name, but it really is not your place to decide what your grandchild should be named.

Your very pregnant and very hormonal daughter-in-law came to you with excitement about the name she and her husband had chosen for their child. She was trying to share that joy and delight with you. And rather than be excited for them and with them, you popped their bubble of ecstasy! I am not surprised she had tears in her eyes; in fact I would have expected her to go on a rampage about how unkind and hurtful you were.

Choosing a child’s name is not an easy task. Just getting mom and dad to agree is hard enough. Suddenly, you think you should be consulted as well? Did they consult you about conceiving the baby too?

Some religions believe the mother alone has the honor of choosing a child’s name. After nine months of carrying a child to term, it is her privilege to name the child. It is believed that the angels will come down to her and breath into her the name of that child and that the child will go on to bring life and beauty to that name. Often times, when parents choose their child’s name, it does not take long before the child begins to embody the characteristics of that name. And when they look at their child, they come to realize that the name suits them quite well.

But, in this case you decided to jump in and change the course of this child’s destiny. They likely spent months coming up with their final decision. They may have even chosen this name before the child was even conceived. What if they had not told you what your grandchild’s name would be until the day he was born? Would you boldly announce in the waiting room of the hospital that it was a bad name? Would you tell anyone who would listen how much you disliked it? More likely, you would bite your tongue and get over it.

The truth is, you owe your daughter-in-law an apology. I know, I know, you HATE the name and you can’t imagine your grandchild having this name. But you had a chance to name your children, and now it is their turn. If you ever want them to share their happiness with you again, you had better make a phone call, and maybe even send flowers. Ok, fine. I know it would probably kill you to send the flowers, so just say you are sorry. And open your heart to that grandchild, regardless of his name. And next time, let your MomAbility guide you before you open your mouth.

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