Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Potty Wars, Part Deux

LR has somehow managed to make himself afraid of camp. It seems to have started about two weeks ago, during his first week of camp. That was also his second week of intensive potty training; we had kept him out of camp the week before for the specific purpose of helping him get adjusted to this new skill.

During that first week, he categorically refused to use the potty at school. At first, we thought it was largely a result of the fact that we had tried to play it safe by sending him in pull-ups; we had figured that if he was wearing pull-ups he wouldn't have to be embarrassed about wetting his pants in front of his friends. When he refused to use the potty there, after having such a good week using it here, we reached the conclusion that giving him this safety-net was simply giving him a good excuse to not bother using the potty. After all, camp is fun and who wants to stop having fun in order to go inside and use the potty if there's no negative consequences? (Remember, he's been in diapers and/or pull-ups his whole life; he's used to running around in a wet pull-up for a little while). But sending him in "big boy underwear" and forcing him to either use the potty or have an accident didn't help.

He was off from camp again last week (it was closed for The Fourth) and he made it very clear several times that while he was using the potty perfectly well at home and at Nana's (he's managed to stay dry every night for at least ten days, and he's only had one or two accidents during the day in the last three weeks) he wasn't going to use the potty at camp. In fact, he wasn't going to camp at all. Now, he loves camp. In point of fact, he's very comfortable there because "camp" is exactly the same as "school." The primary differences are it's in a different classroom, and the fact that much less of the time is "structured;" i.e., camp is more fun. Camp also features a younger, prettier teacher but I suspect that's mainly a drawing point for me. The main point is that camp is fun; he tells me so every day on the way home.

After many hours of arduous questioning, it finally came out that he didn't like the potties at school because they flushed by themselves. But this didn't make too much sense; in the past, whenever he'd gone to the bathroom with me and the potty had flushed by itself he'd thought it was pretty keen. My wife finally teased out the information that one of the potties at school had flushed while he was using it.

Aha! Success! This should be easy to fix. I simply reminded him about the potty up by the front door which was "just like the one at home," and told him that he didn't have to use the self-flushing ones; he could just use that one for right now. After much cajoling, he agreed to look at it. (I knew this was the best I was going to get, so I wisely shut up at this point).

Monday morning rolled around and, of course, I had to go through the cajoling all over again. I managed to get him into the car, into the building, into the "good potty," and - wonder of wonders! - I got him to agree that it was, in fact, "good." We went the last fifty feet to his room and he started all over again that he wasn't going to camp. At this point, I took the tack that I used when he first started preschool: I gave him to the teacher (sorry, counselor) and promptly left, secure in the knowledge that he was in good hands and that this too shall pass. Except, of course, that unlike preschool, it didn't. Pass, that is. It got worse.

Each day has been a bit worse than the last. This is despite the fact that he's used the "good potty" there at least once this week, he's had no potty accidents for his friends to see, he's admitted having a blast every day. The only reason the teacher was able to inveigle him into the class today was by having him help her get a Chihuahua puppy to show to the class. And he knew that today was a field trip where he got to ride on a train and on a carousel.

I have no clue if I'll be able to convince him to get into the car tomorrow, let alone into the classroom. And I have little stomach for coercing him into either one. I no longer have any idea if the alleged potty problem is, or ever was, the real problem and I certainly have no good ideas about what the problem might be if it isn't the potty. Frankly, I was half-hoping that writing everything out might help me better order my thoughts and perhaps give me some insight into the problem. No such luck.

Sigh. I guess I'll just have to settle for everyone collectively wishing me "Good luck!" Please wish me luck. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be needing it.


  1. Good luck! Would he tell you if he just didn't want to leave you?

  2. Any time my son with Autism gets startled by a sudden noise, he becomes terrified of whatever it was he was doing or watching at the time. One time he got surprised by the noise our Tivo makes when it first starts out. Now anytime the power goes out or we accidently unplug the Tivo, he becomes petrified, frozen with fear, hands over his ears, until we can restart the Tivo again and get past that sound.

    A lifesaver for us - carry post-its with you. If you put a post-it over the sensor on those automatic toilets, it won't flush unexpectedly.

  3. Jeese, staying at home with the kids all days sounds like enough to put me in drug rehab for all the xanax I would have to use to cope with it.