Redefining “School Readiness” (A Cautionary Tale of Manipulating your Child)

14 Dec

My two and a half year old appears to finally be potty trained, just in time to give me a couple months more or less diaper-free before we start all over again. Really, though, “trained” is quite a stretch; it would be more appropriate to say she’s decided that she does not need diapers anymore, thank you very much. There was really no training involved, because my stubborn, determined child refuses to be trained on anything.

First, of course, we got her a potty, and started talking to her about it. We talked about all the other kids she likes that use a potty, how Mommy and Papi use the potty, etc. etc. She started repeating back to us all kinds of useful information about the potty, but she definitely was not going to use it. Not for a sticker. Not even for sweet bread. So we waited. And waited.

Around here it seems like everyone has their kids out of diapers well before they turn two, but I’m not really sure how they manage that. Conan was potty-trained by his grandmother by the time he was 8 months old, but since it was his (now deceased) grandmother who pulled that off, his mom had no major insights for me. I knew that lots of people just sort of took away the diapers and let things run their course. I had witnessed moms walking around wiping up their kids pee all over the floor, all day long. It did not look like the way I wanted to do things.

But eventually I tried that whole “just take her diaper off” tactic, too. And by then she was at a good stage for it. She did great with not peeing on herself, except she also wouldn’t pee in the potty. She just insisted on having a diaper when she needed to go. I tried “rewarding” her with stickers and all kinds of other treats, but she was having none of it. Until she suddenly decided that it was time, and that was that. At least for pee pee. 

It’s been a similar situation for #2, with her recognizing when she needs to go, but insisting that she needs a diaper, no matter how much I try to cajole her out of it. To try to talk her into it, among other things I’ve used, I remind her that she can’t go to school until she learns to poop on the potty. Kids here start school at age 3- there’s mandatory Pre-kindergarten, and Lucia is already dying to go. She wants to go play with all the kids, and she wants her backpack, please and thank you. “Kids that go to school don’t use diapers,” I tell her from time to time before I reluctantly put her diaper on her. She was interested in this fact, but not at all concerned, and it definitely did not motivate her to retire her diapers. Welcome to life with a strong-willed child.

Her Nonna just brought her the book “Everyone Poops,” which I was hoping would make a difference in the situation. She loves the book, but when we get to the part with kids pooping she’s like, “He goes poopy in the potty, and he goes poopy in a diaper, like Lucia” and that’s that. Alas. But perhaps just talking more about poop without talking about how or why she should poop on the potty was helpful. Or maybe it was just time, finally. But suddenly, last Sunday, she decided to go on the potty. (Maybe it helped that I gave her a book to read while she was sitting there, too?)

She was ecstatic. She wanted to call her Papi, who was out on an errand. “Papi, Lucia went poop in the potty!” she shouted into the phone. “I ready go to school!” Then we called her Abuela. She told her Nonna when she called later. She talked about it all day long. But the next day, home with Papi, she insisted on her diaper again. “Oh, well,” I thought, “sooner or later.”

But the day after that she used the potty again. “Lucia go to school now,” she told her Papi triumphantly. And she used the potty again the next day, and the next. But now every time she goes to the potty she reminds us that she is now ready to go to school, and can she go to school today? No? How about tomorrow?

What have a gotten myself into? I mean, it’s not like I told her that she could go to school as soon as she used the potty. I mostly told her she couldn’t go to school if she didn’t use the potty. I told her that kids who go to school don’t use diapers. I didn’t mean that she could go to school the second she started using the potty. Unfortunately, two year olds are not famous for their comprehension of subtle grammatical differences and the implications of such. She can’t actually start school until next August or September, unless we send her to some private school or day care center which hopefully would convince her that it’s school-like enough. All of this was definitely not in the budget, for the record. Ooops. Every day I learn more things not to do with baby #2. 

3 Responses to “Redefining “School Readiness” (A Cautionary Tale of Manipulating your Child)”

  1. blueskywoman December 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    You learn more with every single kiddo…! I remember that KC was 9% potty trained before Lissa came (her birthday is tomorrow; now 8 years later this all feels a bit like ancient history!)…but there was significant regression on his end of things (no pun intended there!). So for about 4 months or so, I had two kids in diapers…(cloth, washed every danged day…). He was, btw, 2.5 when she came home. You have a different situation by needing to have her ready, but I remember just saying, whatever…no one ever graduated college in a diaper. (same with his bobo)…I was a diaper-washing mom for 5 full years. Haven’t missed it once, either. 😀


    • exiletomexico December 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

      5 years, huh? Yeah, better to get it all over with at once, right? Someday I will sleep through the night again, too, right?

      • blueskywoman December 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

        Ha…I wouldn’t count on that one…. LOL!

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