Cordy is nearly four and half years old, and is still not potty trained. Yes, throw all your tsk-tsks at me, I’ve heard them a hundred times already. We’re not committed enough, we’re not doing it right, we’re letting her control the situation, we’re lazy – those are the primary reasons stated by complete strangers for why our daughter insists on remaining in diapers. As if it really impacts their lives if my kid is wearing a diaper.
But we have been trying, ever since she turned three years old. Many adjectives can be used to describe Cordy, but “compliant” is not one of them. Our long journey through potty training has included several types of potty chairs and seats, pull-ups, plastic pants, training underwear, reward stickers and candy, schedules, potty DVDs and books, potty songs, and many wet spots to clean up. By Christmas I was resigned to the fact that Cordy was likely to be in pull-ups for Pre-K next year.
Part of the problem at first was her fear of the bathroom. It was too noisy, it echoed too much. The toilet and faucet had running water, and she was always scared of getting wet. She didn’t like the feel of her bare bottom on cold plastic, and we’re not wealthy enough for heated toilet seats. Her sensory issues are not nearly as severe now, though – one hurdle down.
However, she also has a hard time knowing when she has to go. Of course, many kids often do this – how often have you seen a kid wet themselves because they were playing too intensely to notice? But she could be doing nothing and still pee without understanding what happened.
They have been working with her at school, and I’m incredibly grateful to her teacher for helping her get over her fear of the bathroom. At first she had to stand by the entrance, then she had to stand inside while other kids were using the bathroom. Then eventually they made her try sitting on the potty. We’d do the same thing at home, and it slowly started to sink in little by little, but she wasn’t consistent enough to try underwear, and she would scream and cry at the mere suggestion of underwear.
Over the past two months, she’s made a lot of progress. And then, a few weeks ago, everything clicked. She suddenly wanted to wear underwear instead of insisting on a pullup, and she made every effort to keep her underwear dry for an entire day.
What’s our secret? We finally found a reward that means enough to her to guarantee her effort in this task:
Turns out, Cordy was switched at birth. Or at least she forgot to pick up the part of my DNA having to do with my lack of domestic skill. While I avoid the kitchen at the request of the Columbus Division of Fire, she wants nothing more than to pour, mix, and stir. She even likes cracking eggs! Given the choice of any reward, she would choose baking over anything else.
So our new deal with Cordy is that if she can keep her underwear dry until dinnertime each day, she’s allowed to bake something for dessert.
We’ve Daddy and Cordy have made cookies, brownies, muffins and cupcakes in celebration of dry underwear days. Cordy says she’s the “Little Chef” and Aaron is the “Big Chef.”
Mira, when she’s allowed to participate, is the “Littlest Chef of All” but most of the time Mira is serving in the role of “Biggest Pain in the Ass Who Tries to Wreck Everything.” That one is my kid for sure.
I can’t explain why it is suddenly working, but Cordy has more dry days than wet days in just two short weeks. She still needs an overnight diaper for bedtime, she still has to be prompted to go to the bathroom, and any chance of #2 in the potty is still far off, but I’m no longer as concerned that Mira would be out of diapers before Cordy.
Baking – who knew? It’s a good thing Aaron suggested baking cookies, because I never would have thought of it. And then Cordy might have remained in diapers until her first home ec class. Of course, I’d probably be skinnier, too – if she keeps baking, I’ll keep gaining weight.