I was upset when my three year old peed outside for the first time. I pointed the finger at his dad for modeling inappropriate behavior. I thought it would make the potty training more difficult - training to pee in the potty and not outside. Turns out though it wasn't bad. He has peed outside more times than I'd like to say, but I've also been spared the task of washing his urine soaked clothing and shoes because of it. I have had to put parameters on it - only pee in the backyard - after one potty break in the middle of the front yard for all of the neighbors to see.
When he plays outside and pees he tells me because he can't get the button snapped on his jeans. I'm here to help and I like to keep a mental note on when he pee, so I don't mind him keeping me in the loop. I try, though, to be proactive and make sure he goes pee before sending him outside so that he is less inclined to go in the yard.
Friday afternoon he went pee and then I sent him running into the backyard to play. While I sat at the table and talked with my daughter about her day at school I looked out the patio doors occasionally to check on him. He played Fireman Sam, running, sliding, and putting out fires left and right. About ten minutes later I saw him, out of the corner of my eye, buttoning his pants behind the grill. I thought, "that's strange, he just went pee." I opened the door and he came out from behind the grill. I said, "Do you need help, Mister? Did you have to pee again?"
He said, "I can't do that button. No Mom, I pooped."
"Sorry? What?" I said.
"I pooped" he replied. He walked me over, behind the grill, and showed me. Yes, that's poop. OUTSIDE. Inside, I was dying of laughter. I had to do that thing when you hide your huge smile with your hand while trying to keep a stern mom tone of voice while I said, "Sir! Do not poop outside."
"OK. Sorry, Mom." He replied. "But, the dogs poop outside."
I couldn't argue that. "Mister, the dogs are not people. They have to poop outside because they are dogs. People poop on a potty inside and dogs are not supposed to poop inside."
"That be yucky." He seemed to get it.
I started back to the house to get a bag to pick up my son's poop in the backyard but, as I turned away, the elder dog headed for the poop. "NO!" I shouted! "NO! DO NOT EAT THAT POOP!" I headed toward the poop, but the dog got there first. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp went the dog, eating my son's poop. (Gross. Gross. Gross went the Mom.)
I rushed inside to get a plastic bag and my daughter said, "What's going on?" I quickly filled her in while I grabbed the bag from the foyer closet and then rushed back out to pick up the remaining piece of poop. He and I continued our discussion about who poops where as I placed his poop in the dog poop garbage can.
The day proceeded as usual. Our dryer is on the fritz, so after a long afternoon at the laundromat and an hour at the blue park, the kids and I came home for dinner. I decided we'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a bonfire and got started putting wood in the fire pit while the kids collected kindle behind the shed. As I tried to get the flames blazing my daughter, Goose, ran past me and said, "I'm going to run inside to use the potty." I kept about the work of stoking a fire. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw him.
Crouching under the overturned canoe, held high by wooden work horses, with pants down my son sat, and tried to poop outside. I said, "No! Do not poop outside." He quickly came out from under the canoe and pulled his pants up. He said, "Sorry Mom. But Goose just did it."
"Sorry? What?" I said. Now both of my kids are pooping in the backyard? What?
I ran inside to find my daughter cleaning herself up a bit because her experiment with feces and nature had left her feeling a bit dirty. I said, "Goose, did you just poop outside?"
"Yes, I'm sorry, Mom." She replied. Mister came upstairs about that time and I had a conversation I truly never expected to have. I said, "Listen, guys, we are people who poop on the potty in a house. We are not dogs who poop in the backyard. If either of you ever poop outside again you will immediately be sent to your room - no warnings." They both shook their heads in agreement and again said in unison, "Sorry, Mom."
I read the books from the AAP to 1-2-3 Magic. I try to teach them right from wrong: feet off the furniture, hands to yourself, mind your manners. All those classic parenting issues. Oddly there is no mention of "kid crapping outside" in the index for either of those books. Dr.Spock doesn't bring it up once! Time and time again, the unexpected happens, and no resource can prepare you for it.
There are moments in motherhood. Moments when joy overwhelms or fear paralyzes. There are moments in between those peaks that I hope to remember. I hope to remember the way my three year old hugs me as tight as he can with his huge muscles, or squeezes my face to make a smooched mouth, and how he tells me he "wuv's" me. I hope to remember lying in bed with my six year old talking about her day or my day or where we want to go together when we grow up. I try to memorize the moments rocking, snuggling, giggling with my infant; and how he pumps his arms as only he does. His laugh is infectious and he tickles easy. Small moments in between the big, first preschool shows and long hospital stays.
Today was a day I long to remember. It hasn’t gone well. Though, I am smart enough and have been overwhelmed and paralyzed enough to know, that this bad day actually pales in comparison to the real thing.
We started out pretty good. Made the bus on time, boys watched Toy Story and I got an article written. Lunch went well, naps, bus pick up, lifted weights, showered, and played outside. About 3 o’clock we came in after an outdoor snack time. Mister spun himself into the curtains. I asked him to get out of the curtains and unspun him. He punched my leg and was promptly put in his room because hitting mommy is on the zero tolerance list. While in time out he peed his pants; which is becoming such a frequent occurrence that I’m considering time outs in the bathroom. We worked through it, he and I alone in his room. I was so focused on his tantrum and his feeling upset for having peed his pants that I forgot about the others. We talked while he undressed and then we decided to wash off in the tub. I filled the tub and he began to smile after the time out and frustration. My heart breaks for him sometimes. I think he is so big for such a small guy, and he just wants things his way.
I left him in the bathroom to tend to the wet clothes. When I stepped out of the bathroom I heard the sound a glass makes when it clinks “cheers!” I said, “What is that?” I rushed down the stairs as Goose called from the living room, “I don’t know, Mom.” I quickly arrived in the kitchen to find the 19 month old on the counter. He had climbed up the step stool in the corner, by the knives. He sat on the counter and happily clinked eight inch bread knife into a glass butter dish. Cheers. Cheers. Cheers. Then I saw the actual mess. He had picked the coffee pot up, held it out passed the counter and dropped it. Coffee flooded the floor; glass sparkled in the wet, shining puddles. Had he held the knife wrong, his hand would have been bleeding. Had he crawled down the step stool he’d surely have slipped in the coffee and cut himself on the broken glass scattered across the stool and floor. Heart racing, I grabbed him and scanned him for any blood. Zero. The knives! The glass! Not a scratch.When days like this come - the tantrums, the peed pants, the hurt feelings, infants climbing counters, breaking coffee pots, playing with knives – I feel defeated. I am frustrated by the unexpected glitch and sure tears will come, but they don’t. They stay put, waiting for real cause. Today wasn’t a moment of sheer joy or incredible fear – it was just a moment in the life of a mother of three who hopes that these memories will last. This time, in our lives, is going too fast.