Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Potty Training Mommy

I was reminded by a friend recently of my escapades with my boys when they were young. We adopted our oldest from Western Africa at the same time my middle son was 3 years old.
Our oldest turned four years old the day after we brought him home from Sierra Leone. He is 10 and 1/2 months older than my middle son, which makes for good friendships and heated competitions. Both of these were not good environments for potty training.
Why was I potty training a three or four year old?
Well...here's the story.
My son Zack was mostly trained. He struggled with being able to poop and tell when he had to go. My Oldest was potty trained when he arrived from Africa. In the orphanage, he'd been trained to go in a pot along the wall of the building where they squatted. After the trauma of being taken from everything he'd known to a world where he saw more white people than anything else, he was a little freaked out. He spoke only broken English, had night terrors and didn't attach in any way with his new family. Hence, the attention he was getting, clashed with potty training efforts with the three year old and he regressed. My three year old was curious but timid of the new black kid. The fear and unease on both their parts made any kind of control over their bodies non existent. My oldest, having lived on garbage, gruel, french fries and coke also had digestive issues. Mango's were the only food we could get him to eat for a long time and he smelled horrible.
So, now there are two grown boys who can't use the potty, one blind mommy who can't find the problems until the stench takes over and not enough clean clothes or underwear to keep up.
Frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted, I read every potty training book or blog I could find. Use rewards, get a potty doll, give potty treats, have them teach each other. The list goes on and on. There is no list for a traumatized orphan, a displaced middle child and their blind mother to follow.
Weeks and months passed where I wrestled with poopy boys, fighting siblings along with traumatized kids while making no progress. Finally, at the end of my proverbial pampers, I took them both out to the front yard. It was November and a bit chilly in St. George Utah, but there was enough sunlight to ensure no one would freeze to death.
I stripped them both down, Had them hold their clothes and sprayed everybody down with the garden hose They of course screamed, ran from the water and chased each other and me around until the problem was solved. After two or three weeks of cleaning them up this way, bonding over the outdoor showers and laughing instead of pulling my hair out, My middle son figured it out. He still had problems while he was adjusting and still struggled but the outdoor showers stopped. My oldest, however wanted the attention, or the trials, its hard to tell with him, but he didn't stop.
Until one day when my husband looked him in the eye, shook him a little and said, "Stop It!" He did.
I had similar struggles with my youngest years later. I think there is something about boys. Or maybe just boys of blind moms. I don't know. The outdoor showers resumed for a while and my husband would call me on the phone from work to check on me.
"How are you doing?" he'd ask. "Are the kids potty training you?"
"Potty training me?" I was shocked. How did he even know about the potty problems."I had some trouble today. How do you know?"
"Two or three people called me at work to say they saw you in the yard hosing off naked boys."
Maybe the hosing off helped with the potty training? Who knows? I know it helped me and my kids to laugh, love and bond with each other and it kept me sane. Thanks boys! I love you!

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