Oliver has been asking to go to the zoo since we got back last weekend. We have a membership and get free parking, so other than a minor hassle of packing food and driving there, it’s totally free. We looked at our next two weekends and realized we weren’t going to make it again, so we made a plan to go when John got home from work at 2:30 today. We woke Ollie up from nap to get out before traffic. He wet his pull-up at nap and didn’t pee before we left. This is somewhat important.
Oliver was so excited and named a list of all the animals he wanted to see when we got there. He was and trooper when we made the first stop a bathroom, but didn’t pee again.
Fast forward an hour later, we arrive at his favorite, the sea lions, and he is dancing and holding himself. The sea lions at the zoo are exactly between two bathrooms. We tell him we have to go to the to the restroom but we can come back when we are done. This was our first mistake, we should have just let him pee himself.
He ran away as fast as his little feet would carry him. When John caught up to him and picked him up, the kid bit his father’s face. You can only imagine how successful that bathroom trip was after that incident. Still no pee.
Here’s the problem with potty training that no one tells you. The bad feelings associated with the potty training battle spread like hot urine staining every fiber of every other interaction.
We have to address the biting so I say, without thinking or consulting with my co-parent, “You may not bite. If you bite again while we are here, then we will go home.” (Mistake 2)
“I want to stay and find more animals.”
“Ok, then no more biting. We will go look at more animals, but if you bite again we will go home. What’s the rule?”
“Yes, we can go see the cheetah, but what’s the rule?” then prompting “Noooooo…”
Does he really understand the if/then happening here? Does he think we are mad about him not peeing? I didn’t think of addressing these possible concerns until later.
Moving on. We don’t go back to the sea lions because he now wants to see the cheetah. We stop at the pacyderm plaza on the way and he bogarts some popcorn from a kind lady with snacks. She keeps giving him more because he eats what he drops off the floor like some kind of starving boxcar child. She seems sure he would spontaneously combust from elephant pathogens; I’m willing to admit he might have an uncomfortable poop down the road.
All this to say that we decided to head toward the pandas and eat our packed dinner on the benches there. Sandwiches, grapes, and a juice box later we broach the toileting conversation again. “Ollie” we say cheerily “let’s go look at the pandas, and then after we are done we will go toward the bathroom.”
He’s off like a rocket again. John follows. I pack up dinner and head up to meet them. They meet me halfway, Oliver thrashing and John has that twitch in his eye. “We’re going home.” John has fresh teeth marks on his hand.
Oliver is devistated. I’m trying to think of ways to backpedal because I hate breaking his heart. Then again, I wasn’t bit twice. John wants to stand firm. I call my mom because I guess I need to be told twice what I don’t want to hear. We need to hold our ground, no excuses.
We still feel like we should get this kid to pee before we sit in the car for an hour, oh wait, it’s rush hour(s). We weren’t supposed to leave until 7. We are never getting home.
Other than the occasional request to see an animal followed by crying at the subsequent “no”, he handles it pretty well, which only makes it harder for me.
One more failed attempt to force him to pee before heading home. It’s been at least 4 hours. Everyone in the restroom thinks I am torturing my child. We wash our hands and he uses all 10 automatic hand dryers on the way out.
His mood quickly rebounds after every setback, making the disappointment fresh every time he asks to see the lions and we keep walking. Heart. Broken.
2 minutes down the road he floods his pants and his carseat.
Hindsight being what it is, I see we were doomed early on. We made toileting a power battle, which we know from 3 failed potty training attempts over a year doesn’t work for Oliver. He lost control and so he lost control. We all suffered. He learned about poor choices and we so did we. We’ll all do better next time.
*Posted from a parking lot in Tysons where we stopped to feed the screaming baby who wasn’t screaming when we left but was once we got onto a road where there were no stops. We are actually never getting home.