Ugh. You’ve got to be kidding me with this.
We’ve discovered, based on some internet sleuthing, that The Who holds his poop and pee as a form of control. (Boy, we catch on fast, don’t we?) Somewhere along the line in this potty training (it was me, I’m sure) we completely stripped him of his personal agency and now he’s hanging onto the last little shred in the form of bodily functions. The remedy, as we read, seemed simple: give the control back. Piece of cake, right? Just let go of the control, put it into his hands, and everyone goes along his or her merry way. Puppies. Rainbows. Cotton Candy.
Turns out that it’s next-to-goddamn-impossible for me to relinquish control. Inside my head, I am screaming: You are miserable and uncomfortable! Take a shit! Just — why? Why don’t you just do it? But I learned long ago that 3-year-olds don’t think rationally. They’re like little mini maniacs and nothing makes sense. So he holds it. And holds and holds and holds and runs around the house, doing everything he can to keep it in, including laying on the couch and moaning and whining that he is “tired.” He even asked to go up and take his nap today because he knew that staying up any longer would just mean more fighting to keep it all inside.
It makes me want to poke my eyes out with the broken tip of a shattered Christmas light.
For two days, we’ve all been inside the house, with the two grownups relinquishing control and the little one [hopefully] regaining it. Him: I’m tired. Us: Ok. Him: I wanna watch a show with cocoa (another “holding it in” technique.) Us: Ok. Ok, ok, ok, ok. Everything is ok. And in conjunction, we’re trying to give him more overall autonomy to encourage his self-sufficiency, which is actually a perk of this whole business. It’s amazing how coddled and cared for first and only children are. I can totally see where a second child would be doing way more on his own than The Who is, but now that it’s come to our attention, we’re changing it up. Just over the past two days, The Who has (for the first time ever ): put on his own underwear with no help; rinsed himself off with the handheld shower after his bath; unbuttoned his own jammie shirt (with minimal help); got out all the ingredients for his grilled cheese, including opening the fridge, opening the deli drawer, and finding the cheese; and lit the Hanukkah candles independently (well, I lit the shamash, but he used it to light the rest with no assistance.)
And there were probably more things, too, that were just as [in]significant, but that I didn’t necessarily take note of. He’s our first. Our only. How were we supposed to know he could put his own underwear on? He couldn’t always. Hell, maybe he couldn’t yesterday.
I’ll tell you what all this power struggling and control and burgeoning independence does. It shines the brightest, most glaring, most unattractive and uncomfortable light ever on us. We keep having to look at parts of our own childhoods that we’d just as soon walk away from. I have also been reminded, more times than I care to remember over the past two days, about my own control and power issues.
Oh, man. I so don’t want to screw up my kid. I want him to be happy and well-adjusted and self-possessed. I don’t want to kill his spirit. It’s just so exhausting. For all of us.