Is this what he’s thinking?
Actually, I am quite sure not. But I am so frustrated with the months that have gone by with this ‘regression’, at times (and I do feel guilty about this) I have thought he must be ‘deciding’ to do this. I really know he’s not though. It just feels like he is doing all this to make me crazy, but that is just because I have gone crazy because of it – it must be SOMEBODY’s fault. So when I am feeling worn out and I go to pick up my older son from nursery, and I am greeted with 5 little sacks full of clothes in his bag, I do feel angry. At him. My lovely, clever, charming, ever-so-little 3 year old boy. Then the guilt.
Which is terrible, to be angry with him. And totally wrong. And most of the time he would never know this at all, as most of the time I can control how frustrated I feel. I AM SO FRUSTRATED though! I have lost my cool a handful of occasions, I will admit, and end up asking him in an exasperated voice “Why did you wee in your pants!!!!!” “What do you need to stop weeing in your pants!” “ STOP WEEING IN YOUR PANTS!!!!” “Are you trying to make mummy crazy???!!!”. When I am of sound mind and situation I know these so-called questions are completely counter-productive, wrong to say, and likely make the situation worse. He just answers: “because I did.” (Fair enough, one point for him). Gladly, it is very seldom that happens, when I cannot keep my ‘I don’t care, no big deal’ façade. It takes a lot of effort to keep the façade up, when faced daily, for months, with the seemingly purposeful defiance in the form of dampened underwear.
Is he doing it on purpose? Does he really not notice anymore what it feels like to need to go? How did things change from being dry for almost a year, to a complete state of not caring at all anymore if he’s wet or not? Is it because he doesn’t care? Or because he really can’t tell anymore? I can ask ‘What happened?’ and ‘Why?’ til I am blue in the face, but I think we all know the answers to that – a child psychologist would need extra paper in their notebook to list all of the classic disruptions in his life this year. So classic and obvious I need not state them again. Fine, maybe that’s why. What can I DO about it then?
My company actually has this phone number for us to call, an Employee Assistance Program, that you use for counseling on stress, finances, family, whatever…and in the 4 years I have worked there I have never had the notion to call. I thought, though, perhaps they have some sort of child/family counselor I can ask for some useful advice on what I should do. Clearly my range of tactics was not really working. Positive reinforcement (Oooooh a wee and dry pants! Let’s put a stamp on your chart!!!). Negative consequences (I’ll have to take Thomas away tonight because you did wee in your pants all day…). Television bribery (if your pants are dry all day, you can watch a show on TV as a treat!). Food (a chocolate treat!). Etc. (you’ll have to wear a diaper if your pants keep getting wet!). All of which, when first implemented, worked for maybe a day or two. Then he just stopped caring again….didn’t mind being in a pull up after 3 pairs of underwear. Wasn’t bothered about getting a stamp or not.
So this lady calls me back from my counseling resource, a commissioned health visitor, and she has been booked for a 1 hour call with me. I was so hopeful at the start of the call. I thought, in my heart, ‘AHA! This lady will have the answers for me!’. Better answers than all of the message boards and internet sites and friends and any resource I have found so far – answers that solve where others have failed! This lady was a professional. This was IT.
After my one hour call, full of discussions of how it is very normal at his age, how it makes sense with his life right now, how I shouldn’t worry…it boiled down to one physiologically related, actual tip: Take Him For A Wee Half An Hour After He Drinks. Hmmmm. Thanks lady. Nearer the end of the call, I could tell she was winding down and making her final ‘reassuring’ comments, I had this overwhelming feeling of disappointment, and I couldn’t even speak anymore – the situation where if I opened my mouth, I might surely blubber and sniffle with my culminated frustration. There were to be no answers. There IS no solution. Her solution (another ‘tip’) was this: Be Patient. She is right I guess, about it all. But dammit HOW patient? Before I had kids, and I was pregnant with my first, people would always say “Being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever have!” ha ha and I would be like 'yes, ha ha ok, we’ll see…I’ll be fine…'. It’s not the being a parent that is so hard. It’s being patient, being able to be calm and patient, forever. There is no release from needing to be patient. There is a constant requirement to be in control all the time. When faced with constant MADDENING madness from your little treasures of children. Man, THAT’S hard. To be a good parent, it seems, that is just about what you need to problem solve any childhood issues. Ok. So I’ll be patient a bit longer, a lot longer. Forever.
I am thankful for what a joy he is, in every other way. It is difficult I think as a parent not to get obsessed over these little ‘problems’, which for every parent and every child there is always something – toilet training, speech development, walking, tantrums, even colic – all that seem too go on and on and on, designed to stress parents. Make us crazy. Make us doubt ourselves. Test our patience. In the grand scheme of things the issues go on and on and on, or seem to, because we care so much – but really, last such a short while. I keep reading about other exasperated parents with toilet training issues saying ‘I know he’ll be dry and going to the toilet when he’s 16….so I try not to worry…but…’ and it IS true. Mine will be going to the toilet once he is 16 as well. Maybe even 15. 14? How patient do I need to be again? Once mine is 16 there will be some other exasperating issue to make me crazy then, also. Crazy because the stakes are high. Because I care so much. I love my little guy, both of my little guys. So crazy I will be, forever.