Saturday, April 08, 2006

Avarice and Greed

Sometimes, this is a Mommy-blog. Plus, I like the idea of writing something that may well embarass the shit out of my kids in, say, 5-10 years.

OK. Here's the deal. There are many paths of parenting. The one Charles and I have chosen is reasonably laid back with regard to some things. Things like potty-training. It'll happen in its own good time, we figure. Somewhere around the age of 2+1/2, we start telling ourselves that by the age of 3, surely, we'll be done with all diaperish things. As we pass the 3rd birthday, we start upping the praise for dry pants and using the little potty. As progress inches along, we start to gnash our teeth. "Please, please, oh-pretty-please-for-all-that's-good-in-the-world, use the potty, not your pants!!!"

Nothing doing.

When Colin passed the 3+1/2 year mark with no hope in sight, wondering if he would be wearing Sesame Street plastic pants to high school, we became desperate. (Many months pregnant with Sara at the time, I think it was the prospect of having 2 kids in diapers that did it.)

We made a stop at Toys-R-Us.

"Colin!" We enthused. "Every time you poop in the potty, you will get one of these!!!!!" We waved a shiny miniature car, with real working doors of the Hot Wheels ilk, in front of his eyes. Sure enough, within several more weeks, he was poop-trained and several cars richer, and we had graduated from plastic pants to cotton ones with Spiderman on them.

Oh, the joy! The glee! We nearly wet ourselves. No stocking up on Depends for him for college.

Sara, sadly, has followed suit. Yes, she's been pee-trained for months, but not so with the other variety. She's done it, maybe 2 times, total. In 4 months. Or more.

Today, I reached my limit and, in the middle of Borders Books, made my decision. "Pssst. Charles. I'm looking for a bribe for Sara to poop in the potty." (See what parenthood reduces you to? Take a warning.) Charles picks out a "magic" sponge paint book set thingie. (Don't ask me. Something about using the paints to uncover the hidden picture on each page. Whatever.) Perfect. While waiting in line, I grab a box of "Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans", which if you are familiar with Harry Potter come in all sorts of cool flavors and some downright wretched ones, too. Glancing at the back, I duly note that included in the flavors are, indeed, ones for "vomit, ear wax and pepper" Wisely, I put them back and choose a small box of fruit flavor Jelly Belly beans. Somehow I don't think a vomit flavored treat will go very far in enticing the lass to use the can and not her drawers.

After lunch, I decide to plant the seed.

"Sara! Look! A paint set! The next time you poop in the potty, you get the paint set!!! And EVERY TIME you poop in the potty, you get a jelly bean!!!!!"

"OK, Mommy."

She pees.

"Can you just try to poop in the potty? You'll get the paint set! And a jelly bean!''


She shuts the door.

Minutes later, I hear screeches of greed-laced glee.

Mission accomplished.

Why, oh why couldn't you do that months and months ago when we asked and asked until we were blue in the face?

I laughed maniacally. "I'm So Proud, honey. So PROUD!"

We giggled and praised all through her pre-nap story.

Yes, it's too soon to buy the Dora The Explorer cotton underpants, but with the jelly beans as a continued bribe, maybe before she's 4, we'll be out of the plastic for good. We've got 7 months till then.

You've gotta have your dreams.



Anonymous christie said...

Oh my God, the secret to potty training is out!!! And all it takes is jelly beans??? Bless you oh wise one, bless you. (I am, however, expecting that I'll have to purchase vomit and puked up hairball flavored jelly beans since I'm raising a boy)

5:17 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

How do you do this? How? I do not understand how you can take something like potty training and make it so damn amusing? And also sound like fun.

I tell you, if I start wandering around and asking random strangers to impregnate me, I'm going to blame you.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

So true! When in doubt, bribe. Hey, it works for the husband too. Not that he's having issues using the potty mind you...

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

I got nothin' for you on this one, but I will say that very few people (if any) in my colleges classes were unable to go poo in the potty. Or, at least, I never heard of them if there were.

So, you know, you've got at LEAST 14 more years until you truly need to worry about her reluctance. ;)

11:12 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I love the story. Great job getting Sara to use the potty and if I ever know anyone going through this, I'm going to suggest jelly beans.

Those other jelly beans - yuck!

4:45 PM  
Blogger listmaker said...

Aw, memories. I swore AdultSon would graduate from high school in cloth diapers. My mother toilet trained CollegeDaughter while I was in the hospital having RebelliousTeenager (I'm told it involved a pretty panty bribe). RT was just like his brother, disinclined to see the hurry in bodily function training.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

We are so on the same wavelength.

Did you read my "She Who Hath Mastered The Throne" post a week or so ago?

I hear ya. I totally hear ya.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

This is all news to me... I always thought most children were litterbox-trained from birth.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Christie- Hey, wait. Your precocious son, as I understand, took it on himself to launch into the wonderful world of continence. I was envious, to say the least. Feel free to generalize the bribe, though. Borders sells the, erm, unconventional flavors, should you need the information.

Dana- Now, see, I thought this was a cautionary tale: Beware the concieving of infants. See what it leads to.

Kate- Absolutely! I now understand the true power I wield. I will not forget.

Ariella- On a serious note, I know many people have "potty issues" and, for instance, can't go if they are in public or travelling or at someone else's house. So difficult, not fucking up your kids. You never know when your actions will have long-lasting effects, for better or worse.

Beth- For Colin, we had success with chocolate. Sara, while she adores it, couldn't give a rip if I offered her a bag of it. Jelly beans were the magic. They really need instruction books, this kids.

Listie- I'm eying pretty panties as a 'dry after a sleep' bribe. That's the last step.

Gerah- Tcha! Of course I read your Throne Mastering post. I read everything you write. Not that I'm a stalker. Nope. Just interested. Yes. Healthy. Not creepy. We won't mention how much younger Kyra is than Sara. She and Connor (Christie's son) won't be attending the prom in sequined Depends.

Leigh-Ann- *sigh* It's a travesty, isn't it. I think the diaper industry has a hand in it. Maybe they put subliminal messages in their commercials: 'Weeeeet your paaaaaants, kiddies. Weeeeeeet thoooooose paaaaaants.' And why wouldn't they. Damn things cost about $50 a month.

8:49 AM  
Blogger K said...

Thank god mom never got onboard the blog train, that's all I'm saying. I'm sure somewhere in that jaded four-kids brain is an unmined lode of embarrassing stories. On the other hand, as far as I'm concerned, "widda wewwa wowwa" is by far the cutest of all childhood stories. It deserves a forum, if only to remind us all of A before the slow depreciation of cuteness set in.

That said, I feel that 'bucks for grades' is the choicest of all bribe-based behavioral modification methods, both for parent and child. Just think -- a mere $100 or so per school year can get your child into a prestigious Canadian university!

10:03 AM  
Blogger amy said...

my youngest brother taught himself. mom and dad could never get him to go and they had been trying for at least a year. while we were moving into a new house, he calmly asked my dad where the bathroom was. my dad pointed up the stairs. my brother went up the stairs, pulled down his pants, and peed as if he had done it all his life. no candy required.

however, that was nothing compared to the rest of us I've heard.

I'll have to keep jelly beans in mind when it comes time to potty train mine.

12:40 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Hilarious. Boy, this brought me back. My bribe with Allie was M&Ms plus lavish praise. The lavish praise thing kind of backfired, because for about 6 months after she was potty trained she demanded that I come to the bathroom and look at her pee and pooh and praise her profusely before she would flush.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

Diana, you're right about people with "potty issues." I often wonder about child-rearing. How do you create polite, likeable little people? How do you make sure they respect authority, but still think for themselves? I like the way I turned out (for the most part), but when I see a lot of my peers, I can't help but wish they thought more independently.

I mean, all these questions are rhetorical, but it's hard to imagine having kids and setting boundaries and all that other fun stuff.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

After watching my step-mom potty train my younger brother and sister using good old-fashioned bribery with gum, I have decided that the Perks of Poop are worth it. :-)

1:35 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Cagey- Oh, they are. They are.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

K- As I recall, Stacy, when babysitting for brother Aaron, would ask him to say, "little, yellow bowl" over and over, resulting in the now famous, "Widda, wewwa wowwa".

I also want to go on the record saying that I was never the recipient of bribery. My record is clean. Obviously parental mores softened in the 20+ years that separate our childhoods, sister dear. That and winters were colder, hills were steeper, and school much, much harder, of course. (kiss, kiss)

Amy- That is priceless! Way to 'in your face' your parents. Sara is a similar soul. She will do things in her own sweet time, thankyouverymuch. Stinker.

Stacy- Now why am I not surprised that a child of yours would be bribed by chocolate. I only wonder why a child of mine wouldn't be. Oh, and I seem to have created a monster. I had to physically pull her of the can last night after 20 minutes, her screaming, "I WANT TO STILL TRYING!!!" Her face and butt all red with the effort. I'm a little afraid, now.

Ariella- Man, you are so right. I fear that I am messing them up on a daily basis. But they are politely messed up.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous christie said...

Oh yes, my precocious son took it upon himself to begin the potty training experiment...then quickly QUICKLY got annoyed with having to stop to potty and tries his best to avoid it. If you put him on, he'll pee everytime but he will not, ever, under any circumstances admit he's gotta go....And poop...well, I think it's just a nasty rumor started by other mom's that kids actually poop in the potty of their own free will.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

och! 'Tis a brave battle you wage, m'dear.
At our house:
Me: Time to go potty.
Squaekr: No. Don't hafta go now.
Me: You sure.
Squeaker: yes. I'm playing

10 minutes later:
Squeaker: I'm wet.

Me: (screams silently)

3:46 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Hey, I got gypped!!! I don't think there were any bribes handed out to me or my siblings.

Of course, I really don't remember the ordeal at all, but I'm fairly certain not jelly beans, M&Ms, Hershey bars, or marshmallow Peeps were offered.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to set the "widda wewwa wowwa" story straight: It was your sister G who noticed her 3 year old brother playing with a Matchbox steam roller painted yellow. "A, look, it's a roller!"
"Wowwa!" A replied.
"And it's yellow!" G gushed.
"Wewwow!" A gushed back.
"And it's little!" G giggled. "A little, yellow roller!!!!"
"Yiddle, wewwow wowwa!!!" A cried!
I cried too, I laughed so hard. Now, not even Alzheimer's will free A from the burden of this story.

D, want to tell the deck railing balance beam story? Hmmm?


9:19 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

Congrats on the potty successes! PT is (so far) one of my least favorite parenting chores. The process has gone on way too long and we still have another kid to go! OUCH! Anyway, I must say you were wise to keep the bribe simple. I came up with this "Rachel's Potty Rewards Jar", filled with all kinds of candy. Stupid rookie mistake! Toddlers don't do well with choices! DUMB! She would hem and haw and finally decide---a sucker! How moronic was I to include suckers? They take forever at that age! To sum up, Diana=WISE ONE; Colleen=DUMB ONE

12:14 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Christie- Oh, how you make me feel better! Precocious, indeed, for advanced skills in 'messing with mom's head'. He's still ahead of the continence curve.

Teri- Hahahahaaaaaa! Oh. Wait. That's the conversation we have in our house. So not only are we twins, but our youngest progeny are as well? Figures.

Rozanne- You WERE gypped! That means you have free reign to make it up to your inner child and procure yourself a bag of M&Ms and some of those nasty Peeps STAT.

MG- Shows what happens with time and telling. I got my version from either Stacy or Gail or both. Could have been a different incident, though. The 'wowwas' and the 'wawwas' are easy to confuse.

Colleen- Nope. Not wise. Just serendipitous. Not sure why I thought jelly beans would work when the holy grail of chocolate failed so utterly. You are soooo right about not presenting small children with choices. That way lies madness, unless you have hours to devote. Why, oh why must dentist offices offer a choice of one toy from the bin of cheap plastic treasures? Takes longer to choose the toy than it takes to have the teeth attended to.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

oh dear God. I hate, HATE the dentist office bin. My kids choose quickly, but the accumulation of cheap, plastic junk at our house.


2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High school and diapers you say? Oh yes, and how I remember those days too. I made regular pilgrimages to Kmart, Zellers, and Woolworth's department stores to buy "super-size" rubber pants for our kids, because the night-time cloth diapers went on, and on, and on. I thought there would be "no" end.

4:56 PM  

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