One sh1t at a time

My son pooed his pants again today. For me it was one poo too many and he got a firm slap on the bottom and was sent straight to bed with no book. I am at my wits end with this potty training malarkey, particularly as he has days and weeks when he doesn’t put a foot wrong then suddenly he has accidents all over the place. He is only 2 and a half and i have been told that this is typical for boys. It doesn’t make accidents any less palatable and stretches my motherhood patience to the max.

I think that is one of the biggest challenges as a parent, the ability to be patient in perpetuity. However, everyone has to draw a line somewhere and too often i see incidents when no line has been drawn creating an exhausting situation where the parent is at their wits end, while their child continues to misbehave. This was a common problem in the programme Mr Drew’s School for Boys, an example of what happens if bad behaviour continues unchecked.

It is constant, like correcting the course of a sail-boat on a windy day. My daughter was awful on Thursday, grumpy, sulky, whiney and not talking politely to either myself or anyone else, so i talked it over with her that night, discussed what she could have done better then the following day she was brilliant. But today, the bad behaviour returned so I had to call time -out again and then have another discussion about how she could have handled the situation better (ie not punching me when she needed my attention while i was talking to someone). I explained to her that i needed to finish my conversation before i followed Daddy’s request (he was waiting for me and my daughter felt under pressure so she threw me some mini punches).

So i have one child who needs constant reminders about toilets and another requiring training on how to behave around other people and how her actions and behaviour are perceived by others.

Motherhood is like life, you have got to take he rough with the smooth. Thankfully for every poo-ridden, grumpy moment there are 100 moments that if you could you would record to playback when they are grown-up and you are old. One of my biggest fears is that those times will pass too quick for my memory.

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Tacky chocolate

“Wow, he’s got the hang of it”, said my husband as he shifted his seat on one side of the sail boat after a tack admiring how our 2 year old boy had managed to avoid the hazards of dogs, legs, ropes and beams and move without assistance from one side of the boat to the other. I glanced down at the Smartest Easter egg I was holding and held it up to show my husband, “I think this may have something o do with it”.

It’s amazing what discoveries you can unearth from doing the most unlikely things. I was being a multi-tasking mother, releasing the Genoa sail for my husband during a tack while keeping baby boy’s blood sugar level up with a bit of chocolate. So while I balanced it precariously on my palm as I swung from one side of the boat to the other, baby boy followed me effortlessly like a horse following a carrot on a stick.

It is ambitious sailing with a 2 year old because they are small and tend to get easily tangled up in anything and everything you are trying to ensure they avoid. Then there is the added complication of the potty. After using up the waste bags for the mobile potty on our 2 dogs after they pooped on the beach, baby boy was left with absolutely nothing to pee into as he perched on the potty. My husband had no other option but to let baby boy ‘christen’ the tender boat as he waited in the shallows of the harbour with all the kit and the dogs for me to return from parking the car.

Someone once said to me that all men at the helm become fascists. This is slightly true of my husband who was rather too fond of barking orders at me when I was trying to ensure baby boy as avoiding the many hazards of being on a boat. One woman I met at a boat show said she used a car seat on her boat and every time she wanted to sail ‘hands free’, she just popped her child in the car seat in the cabin. Our boat is only 18 foot, sonar car sear would take up most of the cabin, which is already dominated by a dog bed – essential when you have a dog who needs a retreat to assist them when they go into complete denial that they are at sea. This is the same dog that hates camping. She would much rather be Ina Louis Vuitton bag somewhere in California.

I am new to this sailing lark but am in it for the long haul as I know that the whole family will get pleasure from it (eventually) and the money we invest in it will replace the cost of summer holidays and alternative mobile UK holiday investments such as caravans and camper vans.

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Day in the life of gypsies

As my friends were comparing diaries earlier, 10 children were running amok around us. At one point my friend looked up from her week to page view and took in the chaos around her, ‘there is way too much going on’. That wasn’t an overstatement. The final ‘event’ that had made enough noise to drown out the many other noise effects of child’s play, was my daughter’s eight year old friend galloping past on her noble steed ‘licky’, while my daughter cheered on half hanging astride off the side of the fence.

Picture this one event happening simultaneously with a baby girl crying, a toddler pulling at my friend’s leg while she consults the diary, one boy pedalling past on a tractor while the other sits on the trailer, one child chasing another up and down the ramp of a horse trailer and two other children making one hell of a racket and mess in the hay barn. That’s just the children. Also add to the mix one Shetland pony, one extra large cob one medium sized cob and did I mention ‘licky’? Plus 2 Jack Russells and one Cocker Spaniel.

You may be forgiven for thinking we spent the day at a gypsy camp, but no it was just me and my nanny friends trying to have picnic, while satisfy requests for pony rides, Easter egg hunts and lots of picnic food. We also try and squeeze in a few cups of tea and ensure the toddlers are reminded about the potty despite the many distractions. For my baby boy my reminders were not frequent enough, as my daughter’s friend hollers…’ He has done a poo in his pants’…’ where?’i ask…..’ in the drivers seat of your car’. We were surrounded by poo – horse poo, dog poo, nappies and potties.

As I was leading a child on a Shetland pony who was trying to nip me as I led him along while simultaneously balancing baby boy on my opposite hip, I thought about the mantra ‘never work with animals and children’.

I also had a whole new appreciation for what life was like before contraception.

But it was strangely therapeutic sitting amongst the chaos, rather like being at the eye of a storm.

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Funny families

According to my potty training manual, baby boy has now been virtually accident free now (pants wise) for over a week and his reward chart is now smothered in stickers to the point where we have run out. So, with great fanfare, I announced to my son and the rest of the family that baby boy was now officially ‘dry’ and had graduated from potty training school. So his potty training manual is now up on the shelf along with other milestones in development and his vaccinations schedule. I also made sure every significant detail of his progress was mentioned in his baby book, particularly the day when he pooped in sister’s room. It is important to have these details recorded so that he can go through the ritual of embarrassment during his teenage years. My parents did it to me in the form of cine footage that captured the moment when my dress caught on the top of a kennel I was crawling into so that I could play with (more like terrorise) the puppies. For some reason my Mum didn’t put knickers on me then. Quite a few people have seen the first Moonie of my life, husbands, boyfriends, step-siblings. So, like a family ritual, I am doing the same to my children.

I figure if you have the ability to laugh at yourself from an early age, life and social life in particular, is a whole lot easier.

The trouble with my Dad was he never stopped having moments in compromising situations, well into his forties. He was like a combo of Delboy, George Best and Frank Spencer. I have seen my Dad hang outside my car when I was little and watch him attempt to climb through the window when my mum drove off in a strop, I have heard how he left his car on a ferry only for it to leave without him so he could just squeeze in a ‘swift one’ at the local pub and how he helplessly dangled half-naked from the toilet window, with his head half in the toilet bowl after attempting to get in through the fan light when he forgot his key and waiting over 2 hours upside down with his trouser buckle caught on the window opening for my mum to come home and release him.

With that kind of upbringing normality is anything but normal.

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It has been a week now since the commencement of project potty and I am pleased to report a few Eureka! Moments. I did not think it was possible to get excited at the sight of poo, but it has happened, twice now. I am a very proud parent.

The puddles in the bed every morning are getting smaller too so hopefully the tide will be well and truly out through the night once he has completely grasped the concept. The downside is getting up as soon as baby boy awakes to encourage him on the potty. I have discovered it is a rude awakening at just gone 6am to go straight from a deep sleep into poo and wee cajoling.

The Eureka moment today happened with the guidance of a 3 year old boy. I have to pause at this moment because as I was typing my son suddenly started saying ‘potty’, ‘potty’. So I rushed into the living room to see my son shifting uncomfortably in a damp patch on the sofa. So I put him on the potty while I put the cushion cover in the washing machine along with the trousers and pants.

So, back to the Eureka moment, I figured it had been a while since his last accident, so I put him on the potty and put on his favourite film, cars. After a while I heard him say ‘all done’. He has said this many a time after emerging from a dry potty, but when I glanced down and saw a pool of yellow I cheered as if we had won the lottery (well maybe that is slightly over-dramatized but you get my drift).

Like most parents going through this process (mainly mothers as we tend to be slightly better at multiple reminders), I wondered whether this would represent the turning point. The sofa incident proved that we are still a way off.

This was further confirmed when I watched my baby boy walk across the room with his toy laptop, pause, adjust his legs a little wider, drop a brown bomb that arrived on the laminate flooring with a splat and then carry on walking again as if it was entirely normal to ‘poo on the go’. I suppose he has seen our dogs do it and then watched me picking it up with a bag so assumes its ok for him too. I swiftly picked him up and carried him over to the potty in the next room and placed him on the potty. I hadn’t realised that another brown package had descended on route to the potty and I walked straight through it. My daughter was watching this as if she was watching some disgusting comedy kids programme on TV providing commentary as she watched me tackle the poo. I quickly peeled off my poo covered socks and whisked them to the washing machine.

Then the doorbell rang. It was my friend and I welcomed her in explaining why me and the house might smell a bit suss. Armed with Dettol spray I returned to the site of the incident, I returned to find it had magically disappeared and glanced up to see one of my dogs licking her lips. My daughter said, ‘yeah she just ate the poo’. I don’t know whether she attempted to stop her or whether she decided to keep quiet and see how much of baby boy’s poo our dog was willing to eat.

The whole entire time my son was watching this while sat on his potty. He is going to be one confused kid.

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Bear talk

We are now on day three of potty training and I am already exhausted with potty reminders. I am seriously considering getting baby boy a build a bear designed for potty training with a recording of my voice saying ‘pee and poo in the potty not in your pants’. This approach would be good for several reasons:

1) Before and after every accident he would be receiving the potty reminder from the calm and friendly face of a bear, in a tone that isn’t being said through gritted teeth and from a face that isn’t trying to suppress frustration

2) I would give my voice a rest and could exercise some of my frustration each time I squeeze the bear to get it to talk

3) I could keep the bear for when he hits his teenage years and threaten to show it to his friends and girlfriend each time he has an attitude problem

4) he might listen to a bear more than he will listen to his mother…

In fact maybe I should get a bear for each stage of his development (although maybe not the birds and the bees – that’s just plain wrong).

In the meantime I will just settle for lots of Dettol, vanish carpet cleaner, an overflowing washing basket and a load of Mickey mouse and Thomas the tank engine pants. Yes the packet of half empty nappies are talking to me in the same way as a Cadbury chocolate bar to try and tempt me but I will not deviate from the path to dryness……..although if this goes on for a fortnight it really will be testing my resolve.

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An inevitable tide

I am about to embark on the Sport Relief challenge but something even more challenging has come my way……potty training.

Not me, I hasten to add, I have been ‘dry’ for about 32 years now, except in I999 when I shouldn’t have touched the bottle of Metaxa….. I am referring to the potty training process of my 2 year old son.

It started with the purchase of Mickey mouse pants (I love encouraging him to repeat that phrase as he has a lisp). Once home I wasted no time getting him on his new pants and saying bye-bye to nappies after over 2 years. Then the ticking time bomb commenced. When would he need to do his first wee? I encouraged him to sit on the potty and then remain on it, reading half of his book collection in an effort to key him on the throne. But to no avail. After a play in the garden, I saw he started to walk like John Wayne and he announced to me that he was ‘wet’. So with minimum fuss I changed him into another version of his Mickey mouse pants and then commenced the frequent reminders of ‘potty’.

After he woke up from his afternoon nap I thought he might need a wizz but 5 books later the well of the potty was still dry. The focus on toilet routines had the opposite effect on me, I wanted to go to the loo even more frequently than normal. So, I decided to lead by example ably assisted by a baby Bjorn trainer seat. He seemed to be happier perched on this but even so all the children’s literature in the world could not encourage the waterworks, not even with the taps running.

So I know he has control, he just needs to learn how to release that control. I fear that will happen in his sleep tonight but I am confident that by this time next week we will be nappy free.

I have just enjoyed watching the Sport Relief programmes on the BBC, including the reports from Africa, which were incredibly difficult to watch but reinforce why Sport Relief is so important. You just get the feeling that much more could be done if our world operated slightly differently (I am referring to programmes, such as last night’s channel Four programme on the customers of Rolls Royce). How many malaria vaccines could be bought with the equivalent capital to buy one person seven Rolls Royce.

But until re-distribution of wealth is sorted, causes like Sport Relief do their best to make do on the generosity of people wanting things to change, if only they could change for good rather than stem the tide of poverty that seems to be inevitable across the world.

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gap between developing and developed countries, rich and poor