Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Curse of the Pull-Ups

For a long time, I thought pull-ups were a genius invention. The protection of a diaper, the independence of underwear. Brilliant! But now, I am cursing them. In fact, I'm cursing the whole pull-ups/daycare/potty training combo. Here's the deal:

A while back when Jacob was making good potty training progress, I bought a pack of pull-ups. I went the cheap route, just in case, and got the Wegmans brand.  Originally my plan was to put them on over the big boy underwear to give Jacob the chance to feel wetness without risking damage to our carpeting. Then I began to realize that either Jacob's bladder wasn't ready or the underwear didn't really mask the diaper's presence (or a bit of both), and I gave it up for a while.

We used the pull-ups here and there since, mostly when we were home for a while, for easy potty access, and Jacob showed enthusiasm about the whole thing. It was easier to pull the pull-up up and down than to constantly put his diaper back on if it was dry enough. But it was never consistent because the enthusiasm didn't last long.  Inevitably I would get frustrated when Jacob didn't want to use the potty and used his pull-up as nothing more than a more expensive diaper, and we'd go back to diapers until Jacob showed promise again. But even then, every time he begs to wear one, he doesn't use the potty and it gets wet. And because pull-ups are absorbent like diapers, he doesn't care. 

Admittedly, kids are suckers for consistency so this probably hasn't been a great environment for encouraging real potty training. I'll admit that some of this is my fault. I should be more diligent about reminding him to use the potty. I should set timers and I should force him to sit. But I don't, I get busy, and even when I do remember, the struggle to pull him away from his toys is enough to make me want to forget. At the same time, I don't want to make a big deal about it and have him rebel.  I know that it's as much a challenge to get me to stick with the program as it is him, but we're rapidly approaching his third birthday, which was my target for hardcore potty training, if necessary.

Of course, now that we're there, I'm not sure I want to burn a week's vacation just sitting at home trying to get him trained. I keep having this feeling that potty training has become a part of the power struggle, and it's not going to happen until Jacob values dry pants over getting his way. He knows he's not supposed to pee or poop in his pants--regardless of his underwear of choice--but he does. And he lies about it when we ask him if he's dry. I know now he can hold it, as he's done it before. So ultimately it's an issue with dragging himself away from his playtime and getting it done.

At daycare they use the potty at predictable intervals and there's peer pressure. The other day they asked me to send pull-ups in with him, since they're wasting a lot of diapers when he's dry at potty time. I sent in some of what I had, only to have them come back home because they were the "wrong ones"--meaning, they need the ones with velcro on the sides. I get that it's hard to use the ones without because it means you have to take off their pants and shoes to put on a new one, but still...The only ones with that feature are Huggies (though apparently Target has that too), which means that not only are the cheapest ones (Wegmans) not an option, but now I have to spend even more than the pull-ups were already costing. But last Thursday night we stopped at Target and I picked up a pack of Huggies Pull-Ups, just like the other kids wear. Jacob seemed very excited.

Well, this morning I came in and one of his teachers asked if he was wearing a pull-up. I said no, because we always just put a diaper on in the morning. Per what I said earlier, I generally only try the pull-ups when Jacob's home for a while and we have a shot at using the potty consistently. She said that he hadn't been as dry the last couple days with the pull-ups, so maybe the diapers were confusing him. Ugh. Maybe. Or, ummm, maybe he stopped trying because he got what he wanted. I don't think he's confused. I just think he doesn't care. Is that too negative of me?

So, tomorrow morning perhaps we'll put on a pull-up and see if he makes it through dry. If not...I don't know. When we were at Target on Thursday I also bought a couple pairs of plastic pants. I thought those were a thing of the past (or at least of old school cloth diapering), but no, they're still around. And they're cheap. My thinking is that we might be able to pull off big boy underwear and plastic pants. I have to go back and exchange the ones I got for a smaller size, because 1) they look huge; 2) Jacob is skinny; and 3) we're only putting them over underwear, not diapers. We may try that at home and see how it goes. I don't think daycare will be up for that, but you never know.

It's at this point that I'm cursing the whole daycare thing, though. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the opportunity to work, and I'm happy that he seems generally happy there. But I have to imagine potty training is a heck of a lot easier for stay-at-home moms. They have the time to be consistent all day at home, and don't have to worry about taking vacation days to make it happen.  Back in the day when stay-at-home moms ruled, they probably didn't need to invent pull-ups because everyone just did potty training "boot camp" style and got it done. Us working parents don't have ample access to time to devote to it, so we rely on crutches like pull-ups and hope it gets us through until our child decides they're ready.  I mean, what if I take off a whole week and work on it, only to fail?  I've just wasted a week of vacation AND I have that much less time to use later to try it again when things are really getting desperate.  I'd really like to do something with our vacation this summer besides potty training--though a few days at home would be fine since I have carpet to replace, carpet to clean and a fireplace and central air system that could probably use some inspecting. 

But when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure our stubborn yet adorable child is mentally ready to be a big boy (despite his protestations to the contrary).  If he's letting a silly thing like a power struggle, or even a two-minute break from playtime, come between him and his beloved sports-themed big boy underwear, that tells me there's a bigger underlying issue at hand and we may be (nearly) powerless to overcome it for now.  Not that we won't try.  In the meantime I'll work on overcoming my laziness about the whole thing and see if we can make the plastic pants work at all.  If some underwear needs to be sacrificed in the meantime, so be it. We need to make this happen soon, and apparently no potty prize, potty chart, fancy undies, guilt, peer pressure, or gentle encouragement is going to do the trick.  Back to the drawing board...

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