If you know me, know someone that knows me, or just happened to pass me in the grocery store chances are you know I am disrupting the heck out of our household by introducing not one, but two major milestones to my almost threenager’s life: 1. The Transition to the Big Boy Bed and 2. Potty Training
Some moms have a stiff upper lip about these sorts of things and approach them in a very matter of fact this must be dealt with way. Not me. I talk about them to whoever will listen. I’m that person that when you give the courtesy ask of “how are you doing?” fully expecting a “we’re good. you?” I pretty much tell you to buckle up because oh boy do I have some stuff to tell you.
I have resisted the transition to the bed for over a year now. My husband was pushing for it hardcore before Olivia came and I used my mom veto rights and didn’t even allow that to be a realistic conversation. When you have the Tasmanian Devil incarnate living under your roof the last thing you do is give him his freedom at 22-23 months when you’re expecting a new baby. I’m not sure what made me move forward with the bed now as he wasn’t attempting to climb out. For some reason, I thought that it would actually help AJR sleep better. He was tossing and turning a lot and in a moment of Etsy/Pinterest fueled weakness, I thought “hm, perhaps he would be more comfortable in a bed AND I can do some decorating.” Lynn of today pretty much wants to slap the shit out of Lynn from three weeks ago for ever thinking this was a good idea.
The bed arrived on Sunday before nap. My husband and I tag teamed things and it wasn’t too bad. Then Monday came and I was alone. All alone. And AJR, like a lion assessing a herd of antelope, knew I was weak and could easily pick me off. He lulled me into a false sense of security by going to sleep waaaay too easily at nap time. I smiled smugly to myself about what a great idea this was but in my heart of hearts, I knew there was a storm brewing. By Wednesday the gloves were off and like any self-respecting toddler, he deployed full-on testing mode. AKA he went zero to maniac.
It wasn’t that he wouldn’t lay down, because he definitely wasn’t doing that, it was more that he was channeling Linda Blair from The Exorcist and I fully expected his head to do a 360 before projectile vomiting on me. It’s hard to remain rational when you’re trying to negotiate with someone irrational. While I was trying to dole out threats and bribes, he was whipping and nay naying in bed all while speaking in tongues. I tried the approach of leaving the room to let him “settle himself” but that only led to the repeated opening and slamming of the bedroom door. After he shut the door with such force that it knocked a picture frame off of Olivia’s bedroom wall, I Maguyvered the hell out of the door with a pair of old panty hose by tying one end to his door and the other to the linen closet. Checkmate, AJR. By this point Olivia was awake and screaming and AJR was so far past overtired that he was doing laps in his room in an effort to stay awake. Finally, after an hour and a half battle I coaxed him to lay down in his bed where he finally fell asleep. My nerves were frayed and shot and it only made logical sense that I shed a few tears while frantically texting my husband about how we should consider putting the crib back together immediately.
He, sensing that perhaps this transition needed reinforcements, made the offer to work from home the next day to give me a break. I was relieved, yet, I felt awful. This is my “job”. Even though my toddler had been replaced by a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew, I should have the patience and fortitude to handle it, right? When not even a glass of rosé would do the trick, my best friend convinced me to take my husband up on his offer. Mostly because I think she was concerned that I would go Britney Spears circa 2007 and she’s seen me go through more than my fair share of bad haircuts.
So I acquiesced and my husband helped out. My guilt, always lingering, made me take AJR to Dunkin Donuts for a mommy-son donut date to reset things. He ate a sprinkle donut and I attempted conversation about how being a big boy can be difficult and how awesome his bed is. Then we took a selfie. I dropped him off at school and took my coffee to get a pedicure. Afterwards, I gleefully purchased a childproof lock for the door handle per a suggestion by a friend and had my husband install it before nap time that day.
Now when he’s acting like he touched an electric fence instead of napping at least I have that lock to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere or wake his sister up. That is, until he figures out all he has to do is lift up and push on the handle. And when that happens, I will start swaddling with a straight jacket.
Things are slowly getting better in that department. He doesn’t always listen, he sometimes speaks in a language that I’m pretty sure is a dialect of Orc (Lord of the Rings Reference – nerd alert!), and I still have to close the door and take a deep breath sometimes, but he sleeps. Eventually. Usually. Most of the time.
With potty training, it actually felt like the right time and I didn’t want to miss our window lest he go to college with a pack of diapers under his arm. For the past few weeks at bed and nap time he had been yelling to use the potty and then actually would when we stuck him on. Cue to me sitting on the edge of the bathtub while he loudly pees and grabs my chin, forcing me to look into his eyes and says “Mommy, are you happy??” And, with all the forced enthusiasm I can muster after mommying since 5:30am and looking someone in the eye while they’re on the toilet, I declare how proud I am that he is urinating as a new stalling tactic.
We stocked up on reinforcements: juice, all the candy, Hot Wheels, trains (for big prizes), cool truck/Paw Patrol/Thomas Train underwear, and wine for me. I read a book my friend sent and was planning to follow it to a T. I tried to gird my loins and make peace with the fact that the house was going to be on total lockdown for the next three days. Because apparently three days is the magic number and if you do everything you’re supposed to, the potty training fairy comes and sprinkles magic dust on your kids’ colon and bladder that renders them suitable to go out in public now.
Saturday morning came and per the book, we put him in underwear. Then we “threw away” all of his diapers and I say “threw away” because I am saving those. Pampers ain’t cheap and Olivia will eventually grow into them. The next phase of the plan was to be glued to his side and constantly say “please let me know when you have to potty” and do periodic “dry checks” while cheering at a decibel I’m pretty sure only Ruby could hear about how proud I was that he hadn’t riddled his undies with urine. AJR, being a clinger, was all about this mommy-on-one time. I have rug burns on my knees from playing trains on the carpet with him. That is seriously all he wanted to f’ing do. TRAINS! TRAINS! TRAINS! At one point I looked at the clock and it was only 9:30a.m. Jesus, take the potty training wheel.
Lunchtime came and I had my husband take over as his potty training shadow while I prepared food. I overheard him daring to ASK AJR if he needed to go to the potty. My head whipped around and lasers shot out of my pupils, instantly incinerating my husband “NO! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SAY “TELL US” OR “LET US KNOW” NEVER ASK HIM IF HE NEEDS TO USE THE POTTY! GOD!” Did I mention I was tense about this? And if anyone knows, there’s nothing like a tense mom to put an emotionally fragile toddler into a zen-like state of acceptance of a new life change.
Despite some meltdowns over inadequate rewards (Another Hot Wheel? You peasant! Where are the trains??) AJR exceeded my every expectation and made it through day 1 without any accidents. Day 2 rolled around and I think the whole “big boy” act was getting to him. He just wanted to sneak off into the basement, drop a deuce in his diaper, and come back up like nothing happened. I ran to Target to pick up some sexier rewards when my husband texted me “he asked for his diapers back”. I broke out into a cold sweat and did roughly 85 MPH on the drive home – he was regressing! Not on my watch!! Apparently, despite this verbal relapse, he rallied and ran to poop in the potty after screaming to my husband “THE POOPS ARE COMING! THE POOPS ARE COMING!” like the Paul Revere of potty training.
Potty training is not for the faint of heart. You have to be laser-focused and watch your kid like a hawk. You have to cheer and applaud a single drop of pee the same way you would an Old Faithful-like flow. You learn things about men and their favorite appendage: Me to my husband “Is that an “I have to pee” grab or is that an “I’m just readjusting things” grab?” It is exhausting, even when it’s going well.
Day 3 rolled around and my husband had to go back to work. After an epic meltdown occurred when post-pee I handed him a mini KitKat instead of a car, I decided it was time to stop giving a reward every time and move to a reward chart. This did not make for a happy potty trainee and resulted in a frustrating morning that rendered AJR bow-legged to keep from wetting himself. A sticker? He would rather just piss himself than comply. A few accidents later and we came to an understanding: stay dry = mommy will take you to the toy store to pick out a big prize. I don’t have a black belt in toddler bribery for nothing. I did add “and this is the LAST of the prizes!” but I’m pretty sure that didn’t sink in after he heard “toy store”. Post-nap, he woke up dry, peed in the potty and I danced throughout the house like that kid in Sia’s Chandelier video. We drove to Toys R Us and he got his big reward. I was legit proud and allowed myself to relax…somewhat.
Would I call him fully trained? Probably not. He resists and still needs constant prompting. But he’s trained enough that we’re going out in public armed with a few back-up pairs of pants and undies. I realize we got off relatively easy in the potty training department as I think he knew he had to make up for his a-hole shenanigans with the big boy bed. Especially since those shenanigans continue to be a part of our daily routine.
I’ve asked a lot out of AJR. Being a big boy ain’t easy when your world is rocked not once, but twice, in a three week period. I, of course, can now have that wise perspective given that he’s at preschool, the baby is napping, and I’m having a quiet moment with my coffee while I write. He is a normal, healthy toddler doing what he’s supposed to do (I know, because I texted my ped friend AGAIN to make sure that this was actually the case). Although in the heat of the moment it can feel like my kid is THE ACTUAL WORST, I’ve discovered that my mood feeds into his and if I act like a nut-job, AJR sees it as his duty to out crazy me, which never ends well. So I’ve got to put on my yoga pants and mom up, which means dialing down it down and trying to remember that he is a toddler afterall. Just please please don’t remind me of the fact that I’ll have to go through all of this again with Olivia in a few years.