After the toileting episode with Mark and Briar, I felt a superiority wash over me. I felt I was getting the hang of simplifying life’s little mysteries so Mark could understand the world, and we could understand his world.
In general, potty training Mark had been a contest of what we could do to just keep his bottom on the toilet seat. If the ass is not over the hole, making a poop does not count as successful potty training. Mark resisted any activity that required his body be still. So, like most parents, we sang potty songs, read books, did clapping games, hand puppet shows, performed toe ballets, practiced anything that needed practicing, pretended to be airplanes and motorcycles, made fart sounds for motor sounds, and planned our next meals. Oh. Don’t you remember doing so many things in your bathroom during potty training? Too bad you missed this quality time with your child.
Eventually, we heard the musical sound of “plunky dunk” and would celebrate long and loud,– repeating the rule, “ Yay, Poopie goes in the water!” Like most toddlers Mark could not wait to see his little turds whirling in circles into the toilet’s deep beyond. “See Markie, Poopie goes in the nice clean water!”
Go ahead! If you are thinking what I’m thinking now, you should have been Mark’s parent.
Alas, we again found ourselves in the spotlight of Mark’s divine interpretation of the rules as we gave them. He had learned “No hands in your poop,” so we launched confidently into, “Poop goes in the water.” Our blunder: it should have been, “Poop goes only in the TOILET water!!!”
A while after he committed his craps to the toilet, he again modified the game. In the toilet, the floaters vanished quickly. But in the plastic pool in the backyard, there was time to watch the “bob and swirl” behavior as he pushed a floater around the rim of the pool with his little scoop shovel.
Mark would be signing and saying his new rule: Poopie goes in the water! What kind of praise or reprimand would be appropriate? It was clear that prevention was part of the answer. I knew about the term Extinction, in that it related to training away poor behaviors by focusing on the good deeds and working to fade the poor behaviors into oblivion. This meant sharpening the skill sets of my maternal vigilant eye. The eye had not slept well in years, and now she had become demoralized with all this focus on feces. She cried. She called out to the heavens, “Why me? Why us?” She made promises: “ Please, name your price, and help Mark just learn the simple rules of life! I’ll sleep on my knees, on rice kernels; just get Mark potty trained like every one else’s kids!”