Talking a Load of Crap

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holy crap.

That’s what I said after reading this horrible story of potty training gone awry. I realize that my words were a tad insensitive, given the subject of the story, but that’s what I said. Out loud. Actually, I was imagining what life would be like if my child not only refused to poop in the toilet, but also refused to relieve his bowels at all. For a full year.

Picture that. Now you’re probably saying it too: Holy crap.

Television producer and writer Josh Reims wrote the essay, Our Year of Toilet Training Hell, for Salon’s “Real Families,” a series that “celebrates the surprising and ever-shifting nature of domestic life” in these fast and often dizzying times. Reims talks, in frank terms, about his 6-year-old son’s awful experience — no, let’s call it what it is — his trauma with going to the bathroom. It involves Miralax laxatives, layers of Pull-Ups, more and stronger laxatives, constant pain, intense fear, and buckets of tears shed from everyone in the family.

And, as with anything involving parents, children and choices, Reims talks about the almighty “shoulds.” Other people — both parents and not — offering Reims and his wife advice on what they should be doing to help fix their son’s potty troubles. His reply to them is simple:

Stop it. Right now.

Just stop. We can’t take any more advice. The only advice I ever give to parents, unless asked about something specific, is to ignore everything everyone else tells you.

The thing about this story, in addition to the heartbreak of a family in such terrible crisis for a full year, is how something we generally assume is simple (pooping on the toilet) can be rife with control issues, fear, frustration, guilt, and sadness. I remember reading a post by Dr. Heather “The BabyShrink” about two years ago that addressed the withholding troubles of one toddler’s mom. I know … more advice? No thanks! But this was more like gentle tips and suggestions from a kind and wise woman. Definitely worth a read if you’re having any issues — small or Holy-crap-style — with your young during possibly the most important change/phase in their lives next to puberty. Yeah, it’s that big, this potty business.

Feel free to share any of your own tips or “from the other side of it” survivor stories right here in the comments section.

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