One of those moms

Yes, I am one of those mothers. I forget when it's picture day and I send my kids to school with bed head and a paisley-print shirt that clashes with the purple splash background. I leave the snacks by the door when we leave the house forcing my daughter to face complete humiliation and disappointment when she doesn't get to be snack leader that day. I neglect to read the "school spirit" day list correctly and send her to school in pajamas on a regular day.

And I didn't read the section of the handbook that clearly stated my son needs to be "bathroom independent" to attend pre-school.

It had crossed my mind that he might need to be (just as it had occurred to me that I should probably read the package of papers that came in the mail two weeks before school started), but I dismissed the thought because he is still so young (three in two weeks) and every mother has told me how much harder it is to potty-train boys. So as I sat with my 36-year old butt overlapping the sides of the tiny chair listening to the teacher at the parent meeting, I felt the sweat pooling under my arms.

... and at 9:30 we will potty them. They will go into a stall and do it all themselves... of course, we'll talk them through it for as long as they need, but we teach independence here...

I'm picturing my baby boy behind a closed stall door crying that he "can't do it" as the pee-pee collects in his pull-up.

A mother asks what happens if there is an accident. If they are just wet they will get themselves changed, including putting their wet clothes in a bag. But anything more solid will warrant a call home and the offending matter and its owner will have to cleaned up by the parent who apparently can just leave work or the grocery store to attend to her incontinent child. The blood rushes to my ears. As I will be teaching in town 40 miles away while Tator is in school, a full diaper would have to wait a very long time to be taken care of. And so it means that my mother, who is scheduled to pick him up after school, will now have to come into town early in case her grandson lets loose his bowels.

OK, I realize it is my fault that I didn't clarify this requirement and work on it over the summer, but I am now stuck. The teacher assured me they would work with me, but it might be that... he's not quite ready.

All my mother-pride comes flying to the surface. I'm imagining the shame of hearing my child is not "getting it" and needs to learn this skill before he will be accepted. I have failed my child. While I was trying to be a good mother not pushing the bathroom issue and making sure he was ready to want to do it himself, I have inadvertently kept him back in another way.

He is socially ready for pre-school. He is good with other children and his teachers are always surprised when he has a rare bad day at daycare. He can count to 10, his speech is clear, and the connections he makes sometimes astound us. But maybe I have babied him. He is my boy, my baby, my last-born. Compared to his big sister, I knew he wasn't capable of certain things, whereas when she was the same age I had nothing by which to judge her skills so I probably set my expectations higher. She was fully potty-trained by two and a half.

The first day of pre-school is two days away and I'm so nervous. We have been working on the issue and Tator is excited when he goes by himself. He knows that is how he will be able to go to what he calls Crystal School. But the idea of getting him to "go" as on demand before school so he can then wait until they are all "pottied" strikes fear in me. You cannot make a child poop, you just can't! (Not without risking some psychological scarring... thanks, Mum).

So, while I should be excitedly anticipating my son's big day I am instead wringing my hands waiting for him to come tell me he needs to go as I have asked (implored) him to do. When I ask him if he wants to go his answer depends on what is going on at that moment. There's no way the potty trumps Elmo or his bike. He gets stickers and lots of yahoos when he does, but he's still got a long way to go.

On Wednesday, I will hand over my son to Mrs. H and pray with all my might that my smart little man will understand that in those rooms he is no longer a baby. I hope he also understands that when he comes home he will always be my baby, no matter how big he is or what big boy things he learns to do.

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Noble Savage said...

I'm shocked that they would expect children who are not even 3 yet to be fully potty trained and even MORE shocked that they would leave a child in soiled clothes until someone related to him or her could come clean them up. It sounds like they are more concerned with how smoothly their day runs than with the children's well-being and development patterns. That would concern me.

At any rate, I hope the potty learning goes well for Tator and that there aren't any (or at least many!) accidents at school.

joanna said...

Most caretakers are right in town (and it's a small one), but still I will need to clarify. And I have to come to terms (i.e. get over my OWN pride) that he may not be ready. I don't want it to become a stressful thing for either of us.

Stuff On My Blog said...

wow that rather sucks! My little guy is 3yrs 3mos and we are excited to get a dribble of wee in the toilet from him. I agree with Noble, It sounds like they're more worried about being inconvenienced :(

He may *not* be ready though, and that's ok, he'll get there when he is. Possibly peer influence may help as well, my little dude only got interested AT ALL after being at kindy & seeing the other kids go into the toilets. Good luck!