I will apologize in advance

Because today, we’re going to talk about poo.

Okay, and wee too.

Yes, I said “wee” – they taught Maura “wee” in Ireland, and honestly, her raising her hand and saying “Wee-Wee” to tell me she has to use the toilet is too cute.

Yes, I said “toilet” too.  I thought the word “toilet” was so crass, with my delicate Puritanical American values.  I did get over it about a year into my time in Ireland, as you do.

Anyway, this post is inspired by a cry for help from another blogger, where a parent is lamenting about their child not potty training by age seven.  I felt her pain and frustration in so many ways.

So. Many. Ways.

See, Maura is ten and isn’t quite fully potty trained.  She wasn’t even near being potty trained at the start of this year.  She was still in pull ups (because at her size, there aren’t any diapers you could buy, except for medical grade ones.  And those…well, they kind of suck.)  And then, one day in July, that was it, we had made it over the biggest hurdle and suddenly I could put my daughter in underwear and take her out without a worry.

I wasn’t sure we’d make it this far.

Now, let me back up a few years…

Most kids learn how to use the toilet between the ages of 2 and 4.  I always waited until my kids were ready, which meant they all trained around the age of three.  The advantage was that since they were a bit older, they got it all together within two weeks and we were golden.

At age three, Maura had the mental age of a 1 year old.  The idea of potty training her was a bit laughable.

This didn’t stop people from offering advice.

“Just be consistent!”

um.  yeah.  duh.

“You need to spend the time with her and be consistent!”

Yes, I understand.

“Seriously, if you just put her on a schedule, and be consistent about it, she’ll get it!”

Okay, great, whenever you want to come over and help me toilet train her, come on by!

(I did say that to a person – she never came over.)

Age three turned into age four, which turned into age five.  Maura showed absolutely no interest in the toilet.  She would not even accidentally use the toilet when we tried sitting her on it.  The preschool tried to no avail as well.

So my daughter started kindergarten at age six, in diapers.  Size 7 Pampers.

There was this funny moment at the IEP where the special ed director kept saying “So IF Maura is still in diapers when she starts school here…”  Finally I stopped her and said “Let’s just cut to the chase – Maura will NOT be potty trained by the time school starts, let’s just embrace that fact and move on.”  See, I was asking where Maura would be changed, where diapering supplies would be stored, and I guess that’s a hassle for some schools.

When you have a child starting elementary school in diapers still, well, you end up having a whole crew of people discussing your child’s toileting habits.  Her teachers and aide were very enthusiastic about possible getting her trained – I wasn’t as sure she was ready, but I was so over diapers, not to mention we were squeezing Maura into those size 7 Pampers, that I joined the bandwagon.

We all got The Book on how to train a special needs child.  They made up a chart to track her toileting actions, so we could devise some pattern.  What we learned was that Maura had no pattern, no rhyme or reason.

Then we all got together and tried toilet training.  Taking her every X amount of time to sit on the toilet for X amount of time.

Nothing happened.

We kept trying.

More nothing happened.

We kept trying.

Something did happen.  We cheered wildly.

It was a fluke.

They even tried doing a full morning where they took turns just sitting in the bathroom of the resource room with her on the toilet.

My child has a bladder of steel and an amazing ability to hold her water.

We decided to back off on toilet training.  Her aide said “I don’t think she gets the concept.”

YES!  FINALLY!  Someone else gets it!

See, physically, Maura was ready.  Mentally, Maura could care less.  She didn’t care about being wet, or smelly, or soiled.  I had one school staff member at one point ask if Maura had a problem with smelling, because she didn’t seem to notice when she was poopy.

Maura didn’t care about potty training.  Therefore, Maura wasn’t going to do it.

Kindergarten turned into 1st grade, and toilet training went along its merry if half-hearted way.  We moved to Ireland, started at a new school, and I sent in pull ups and wipes when needed.

Then one day, the Irish school asked about potty training.  I stated how utterly grateful I would be if they got Maura trained.  I would do whatever.

They  handed me a chart, to track her toileting habits.

I explained how we had done that, there is no rhyme or reason to her ways.

I bought underwear – lots and lots of underwear.  I sent in one pair of extra bottoms.  Then two.  After a few weeks, the school said that we needed to take a break.  Maura wasn’t getting it.

This time, I was a bit upset by our failure.  I had been told by other parents how the staff at the school were miracle workers when it came to toilet training.  All the other kids in Maura’s class were toilet trained.  My kid was the hold out.  The stubborn hold out.

She was now 9 years old.

A new school year began.  Right before Christmas, they mentioned potty training, however, it wasn’t until spring when they started again.  I bought more underwear, sent in several changes of clothing, and prepared myself mentally.  Because at this point, it was a mental game, for myself and for Maura.

She wet herself.  Constantly, for the first few days.

Then one day, she got off the bus upset.  No one knew why.  My new habit with her, since they were sending her home in underwear, was to put her straight on the toilet.  So that day, I took her straight to the toilet, and I found out why she was upset – because she had to pee really really badly!

See, she had held it ALL day at school.  ALL day.  And she was bursting.  That would make anyone cry.

A new routine hit us – she’d hold it all day at school, come home, use the toilet instantly, and then manage to stay dry the rest of the day and use the toilet all the time.  The school was frustrated, but I was ecstatic.  She was actually getting it this time!

Even better – she now hated being wet.  So if she did have an accident, she didn’t wallow in her own filth, she wanted to be changed.

One day, a school therapist called and asked if they could increase Maura’s fluid’s at school to sort of force the issue there.  I gave them my full blessing.

It worked.

She started using the toilet at school.

I still didn’t trust her out in just underwear, though I accidentally took her out with them on a couple times and she did fine.

And then, we were moving.  And we had two days worth of travel ahead of us basically.  We eyed Maura and decided to put her in pull ups for the flights.  Better safe than soaking wet, right?

Maura never does anything in a normal fashion – toilet training was added to this list.  Because that girl kept her pull up dry on the plane.  She used the toilet on the plane.  She used the toilet at the airport.  She used the toilet on the next plane.

Josh and I kept staring at each other with matching expressions of wonderment.  We couldn’t believe this was happening.

We stepped off that plane with a pretty darn potty trained child.

At age ten, my daughter was finally somewhat potty trained.

We’re not completely out of the woods.  She still doesn’t poo normally – she has sensory issues and constipation.  We’re still working on sorting those out, and have bought a plunger in the meantime.  She can stay dry at nights but I will still put her in a pull up at night to be safe.

But the fact that we’ve made it this far gives me hope that we’ll overcome the rest of the hurdles.

We WILL get there.

Yes, she earned that award!
Yes, she earned that award!