This post is delayed, because it's been hard for me to write. Last week Friday, I woke up with the determination to give Audrey one more day. So many encouraging sentiments on Facebook kept me going and hopeful, although still apprehensive. I knew that in so many ways, Audrey was READY to do this - she could hold her pee for long periods of time, she frequently woke up dry in the morning, and she is stubborn and determined to do everything 'by self'. I even struggled to get her to allow me to help her get herself up on the toilet - she didn't want help. She is so independent and determined in so many areas.
Peeing in the toilet, though? She wouldn't do it.
Anyway, here is basically how our 'Day 4' went:
I hired a babysitter for the day because I was scheduled to babysit my friends' daughters, and I wanted to be able to spend the day entirely one-on-one with Audrey, so the babysitter came and did her best to keep all three girls entertained while I spent my day next to Audrey.
8:10am - Audrey wakes up in a dry bed, but refuses to pee in the toilet. We keep trying, but she doesn't really even try.
9:30am - I notice a small wet spot on her panties and take her immediately to the toilet. She pees!!! I was so excited, I probably did a happy dance. I was hopeful for the rest of the day.
10:45am - Huge accident on the living room floor. She doesn't hold back - just lets it all out.
11:30am - Audrey decides she wants to have a bath, and I don't really want her to have the opportunity to pee in the water where I can't really see it, but I like the idea of containing a mess. I fill the tub with shaving cream and cover it in glitter. She's not overly impressed, but after awhile she plays in it a bit. Eventually - to clean both her and the tub - I fill the tub with water and she has a short bath.
At one point during the bath, I think I understand her telling me that she has to go pee. I pick her up and put her on the toilet, and hear water dribbling. I get excited - thinking she's peed, and congratulate her and give her chocolate while she's still on the toilet - but when I pick her up, the water is perfectly clear and so I wonder if she really peed, or if I was just hearing the bath water trickling off her and into the toilet. I guess I'll never know. I may have just confused her completely...
12:30pm - She says she has to pee, sits on the potty, but does nothing.
12:40pm - Giant puddle in the living room. She doesn't seem concerned at all about holding it in, and only the last bit lands in the toilet - because I've picked her up and put her there.
This is where I stopped tracking - I had given up on panties at some point, and for a few minutes in the afternoon we went out to the backyard to say goodbye to the other girls who were heading off to the park. Audrey was disappointed about not going, and so I tried to explain to her that she needed to learn to pee in the potty first. A few minutes later - she lets out a big pee on the cement next to her playhouse. Again, she doesn't even seem to be trying to hold it in.
I'm pretty much a nervous wreck, panicking about the weekend, and trying to decide the pros and cons of giving up, keeping on as we were, or finding some middle ground like continuing at home and putting her in diapers to go out (so we could go on with life!). Brian came upstairs at around 2:30, and after a short discussion, we both agree that the best plan - for now - is to give up entirely and try again later.
It took me a number of hours to get over my failure, and I was really reluctant to admit this to anyone for awhile, but now I'm glad for the decision, and I've had to change my outlook on a few things.
This girl is wearing shorts - because she's in a diaper - and she's doing a happy dance.
Firstly, I was reminded that Clara and Audrey are not the same. When we tackled this with Clara, she was younger than Audrey is now - Clara was under 22 months. Clara was completely on board from the start, and from Day 1, she personally refused to put on another diaper ever again. Audrey hasn't seemed interested one way or another in this whole diaper/panties situation. She likes to do what her sister is doing, but she obviously didn't enjoy peeing on the toilet, and it didn't offend her to be put back in a diaper. In fact, she seemed happy to do it. We chose our timing with both girls for the same reasons - in both girls' cases, something was coming up on the calendar that would make it nearly impossible to put the time into training until quite a few months into the future - and so we chose to get training done first. In Clara's case, Audrey was due in a few weeks, and in Audrey's case, Piano and homeschooling was about to begin, and I knew (and still know) that it would be 6 months or more before we could devote any time to this again. When I planned the time for Clara, I knew she would want to do it soon, and that waiting for 6 or more months wouldn't work out for her. I thought Audrey would be the same, but now I realize that she'll be fine waiting another 6 months. Or 8 months. Or 12...
I also realized that not potty training Audrey now will not have anything to do with whether or not she becomes a lazy adult. This is a great fear of mine, that I intend to combat with everything I am, but I think I've come to terms with the probability that waiting another 6 months or a year for Audrey to potty train will not have much of an effect on her in the long run. I'm ok with that now.
In general, I've relaxed a bit on some of my parental expectations. I still want to be pretty strict about obedience - I think that's important for so many reasons - but when it comes to milestones, I'm softening. My Dad raised me with the mentality that 'if you're capable of something - you need to acheive that something'. I still agree that if a child seeks to perform a certain task, is capable of excellence in that task, a parent or teacher should be disappointed with anything but excellence from that child. However, that doesn't mean that everything a child is capable of doing is necessarily the right thing for them to do 'right now'.
For Audrey - potty training just isn't the 'right thing' 'right now'.
I intended to end my post right there, but I wanted to add a few notes about the things I learned about both of my girls in this whole process. Things I may have seen glimpses of before, but didn't really know until this week. Things I'm really glad to know.
Without Clara at her side constantly, Audrey has a longer attention span. She has a determination to succeed, and an ability to repeat processes that allows her to systematically complete tasks - like doing up a buckle, or completing a puzzle - over, and over, and over, and over...
Audrey is not socially driven. Although she is intrigued by things that other people do, and even copies actions and words frequently, she doesn't seem to have the desire to impress others that Clara did. Audrey wants to do that thing you're doing - but she doesn't care if you want her to, or what you'll think about her if she does it.
She is desperately concerned about getting approval from us. While we were praising Audrey about peeing in the toilet, Clara wanted the same praise - despite the fact that she has been peeing in the toilet for almost 2 years. She seemed threatened by Audrey's extra attention and although she didn't take it out on Audrey, she seemed completely insecure - I heard her say 'Look what I did, Mommy!' more in those three days than I think I ever had before.
She is deeply connected to her sister. On Friday afternoon, after we had given up - and I released Audrey back into 'normal life' - the girls played, and played, and played. And Clara relaxed, because Audrey was free! Clara stopped demanding my approval, and for a few days Audrey was the only person who mattered. "Come here, Audrey!" "Look at this, Audrey!" "Come play with me, Audrey!". She had her sister back, and all was well.