Congratulations are in order. My son has officially been accepted to the Potty Academy. I won’t go into the grueling process of getting accepted. Its not for the faint hearted. Lets just say it involves a lot of s@$t – both figuratively and literally.
Its somewhat of a bittersweet achievement. While I am relieved that we are finally getting help for this problem, I am somewhat saddened by the fact that has come to this.
If you haven’t been a member of the Fecal Fraternity, allow me to give you a little glimpse into this world. (At this point, you should grab a cup of joe and settle in somewhere comfy. This could take a while)
First step is complete the 350 page dissertation on every training method you have tried, every poop your child has taken, and every health issues you and your entire family including the dog has every had in life. You must also delve in the deepest corners of your child’s mind to figure out if your child is even motivated to try learning and what is the best motivator for your child.
Next comes the initial evaluation. Off to the hospital where they have an entire floor dedicated to children’s behavioral issues. There walls are covered with children’s drawings and colorful art pieces. The doors are painted in bright primary colors and there is a large fish tank in the reception area to mesmerize the kids into forgetting why they are here.
We meet with a friendly doctor, Dr. G, who looks like Santa Claus without the belly. He is very personable and is utterly enthusiastic about poop. We meet in his comfy office which is filled with lots of toys and plushy stuffed animals.
Dr. G: Lets start by going over your paperwork. Several of the behaviors you marked off are indicators of ADHD. Are you familiar with that?
Me: Oh yes. ADHD and I are old friends. My daughter has it. I’m pretty sure my husband and I have it as well. Our family history is one big bowl of alphabet soup. But we are wicked fun at parties!
Dr. G: It is common for children with ADHD to have toileting issues. They don’t want to stop what they are doing to go to the bathroom. Boys more comonly have ADHD so they tend to be the ones that have toileting issues as well. Not to say your son has it, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Me: Trust me, it’s on my radar.
After a brief explanation about my 4 year old’s immature brain, we moved on to the fun stuff…..The Poop Chart! Dr. G was very excited about this part of the program and genuinely thought the boy would be too. Apparently, the boy did not feel the same way because he barely looked up from the giant castle he was playing with to look at the chart. I, on the other hand, was very intrigued. How often does one get to view a poster of various poops, complete with pictures and descriptions? Not often, I tell ya.
Then the doctor got down to business and I learned more than any one human should know about stool (the polite name for poop). I learned words like ‘skid marks’, ‘pebbles’, ‘thumbprints’, and ‘leakage’. I learned what normal poop should look like (type 4) and that when you hold in your poop, your colon stretches and becomes desensitized. Fascinating stuff. Somewhere out there, a guy studied enough poop to be able to categorize it into 7 types, complete with pictures in order to help moms like me. Amazing and creepy.
Then came the slap in the face. Dr. G gave me a sly smile and said “here is your homework for the week”. Yay for Mom! Since the boy was probably full of poop up to his ribcage, we had to do a ‘clean out’ first. If you’ve ever had a colonoscopy then you are familiar with the process. It’s not pretty. Over the weekend, I was to pump my kid full of elax and miralax and brace myself for A LOT of poop! Dr G. said “you’ll be surprised at how much poop comes out of that little body.” Oh joy! Once the boy’s bowels are squeaky clean, I then get the pleasure of writing down every poop he takes – time, description, pain or no pain, and how big. On top of that, I get to do what I have fondly dubbed the “diaper dash” which consists of putting the boy in underwear for a set time and if he has to go, he must ask for a diaper, do his business, and get a treat. The goal is to get him to ask for the diaper and use it, then extend the time he spends in underwear. Sort of a Don’t Ask, Don’t Treat kind of program.
Dr. G: you see where we are going with this?
Me: Yes and I believe it would be less painful if you just stabbed me in the eye with a rusty nail right now.
The doctor didn’t take me up on that suggestion so the boy and I left the office, poop chart in hand, ready to start our new adventure.
The weekend of the “clean out” has been The Dark Period in our household. The exlax/mirlax cocktail we fed the boy twice a day did its job and yes, we were amazed at the amount of defecation that came out of a 38lb little boy. He was not too happy either. I actually ran out of space in the squares on the poop tracking chart. Once the pooping slowed, we went down to a daily dose of mirlax the keep the pipes in working order.
Time to move on to the “Diaper Dash”. We started with 30 minutes a day in undies and things seems to be going well. While the boy never asked for a diaper, he never had an acccident. So the time was extended and we actually got up to 2 hours with no accidents and he had started peeing in the toilet. Still no poop though.
Now there are several rules that one must follow in Diaper Dash
Rule #1: Don’t coerce your child. Don’t constantly ask if he has to go or ask him if he would like a diaper. Let the child take the lead. If he looks like he needs to go, you can remind him he can ask for a diaper, but that is about it.
Rule #2: Don’t make a big deal if he does ask for a diaper and uses it. Be non chalant about the whole thing. You can be jumping and cheering inside, but not outside.
Rule #3: Be Patient. This is a process, not a quick fix. It will take time and there will be setbacks.
Im good with rules #1 and #2 – not so much with #3. In a house full of ADHD people, patience is not one of our strong points. I have a limited supply of patience for the day and it’s usually used up by about 6:34am. So followiing rule #3 has an extreme challenge for me (and my husband).
Now my boy is no dummy. He figured this whole system out pretty quick. He teased us with little successes then played dumb the next 2 days. He caught on that he never has to ask for a diaper if he waits until bedtime. “They have to put me in a pull up for nighttime so I’ll just wait till then and let if fly. I’ll kill two birds with one stone – never ask for diaper and piss mommy off by using the more expensive pull ups to do my business. It’s the perfect plan!”
The boy has also figured out that if he pees his pants, he can just go up to his room and change, then stuff the urine soaked clothes deep in the laundry so mommy gets a surprise when she reaches into the laundry basket. Luckily, my keen observation skills helped me see that he had changed so I quickly regrouped and was not fooled again.
We go back next week and I am curious as to what Dr. G has in store for us. I am also curious to see what he thinks of my little alien’s antics. I’m sure he’s faced these issues before so maybe it will be no surprise. Or maybe, the little boy from Jupiter will give him a run for his money.