Saturday, January 25, 2014

wee ones and wee wee

Well would you look at this: lil' miss on a little potty. With a book. Because for some reason, peeing is assisted by reading. (I though that was cultural, but apparently its biological?)

We’ve always sort of wondered ourselves what potty training would look like in a place without traditional potties. I would joke with Jeremy that I was not going to send Bronwyn into the pit latrine to do her business for fear that she might fall in. But I had no ideas in mind as to how she was supposed to learn the skill of personal waste elimination.

I didn’t receive much help from the ladies around me either. Kids here just sort of pee. Anytime. Anywhere. Whatev. I’ve watched pee leak out of the chitenge while a baby stays strapped to moms back. Mom acknowledges the wet but keeps on clicking. Little kids who are self-mobile usually just pee all over themselves until they realize that they can pull their pants down and squat and they start doing that. For little ones, peeing (and most pooping) happens right on the ground at the location where the urge is first felt. (Our neighbor boy Michael had a big thing about peeing in our living room. Maybe it’s the soothing color scheme…) Slightly older kids will go off to the side so that they aren’t peeing in the same place they are playing. Older kids will go behind the house or into the bush a bit to find some privacy. And eventually, fear of public exposure does ultimately drive every person into the pit latrine. But all of this is child-driven, without any intentional “potty training” from mom and dad.

I remember before we had Bronwyn, Michael's mom stopped by on an afternoon when Michael had peed himself, and our floor, for about the third time that week. I thought I was being helpful by giving her a few pointers. “When you see Michael get that look on his face like he might need to go, why don’t you encourage him to recognize the urge and hold it till he can go outside and you can take his pants off? And then praise him for doing a good job!” She just sort of got this quizzical look on her face as if to say, “I cannot process why you are so high strung, Bethany.”

So clearly we’ve been winging it since day one in terms of potty training. Some time back, she started saying this word that sounded something like potty and we got excited. We went out and bought her a cute little potty chair and it just sat in our bedroom getting absolutely no action. But every once in a while, she’d insist we take her diaper off and she’d go and sit on that seat. More often than not, she’d just sit and do nothing, but then one time she actually tinkled and was so pleased with herself! For the rest of the day, she wouldn’t put a diaper on, and just went all over peeing in different places. We were so proud of our little puppy dog. And up till now, we just follow her cues. When she says “potty” we take her diaper off and let her do what she thinks she needs to do. As her awareness of her bodily functions grows, we hear “potty” more and more. But we don’t stress it, because, Michael eventually stopped peeing in our living room, and we don’t know a single teenager who doesn’t know how to use the pit latrine, and that gives us hope that Bronwyn too will grow to be a normal functioning person.

As I’ve tried to read up a little on this developmental milestone, I’m still taken aback by the American potty training intensity. I think it is much less about a child’s natural development and much more about PROTECTING OUR BELOVED FLOORS. It’s for the love of the carpet and the hardwood that we don’t strip that diaper and say “just be free, nature baby,” letting kids figure out that wetting their pants is less than ideal.

But no worries. Bribery with M&M’s has its merits, and ya’ll can laugh when I tell you Bronwyn is terrified of falling into the foreign porcelain toilet bowl. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

What’s the funniest/most inappropriate place your child has ever peed?

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