Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Diaper Fairy Has Arrived

Parents have a license to discuss their children's bodily functions, especially when they are actively training them to go on the toilet. It's a dirty business, but...

The Diaper Fairy came this past Sunday morning and left Maya two gifts, a twelve-pack of Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear for toddlers and a toy. The night before, Verna and I had boxed up all but one or two of her cloth diapers and wraps and happily bade them adieu. We will happily ship them to a new home--for free.

Verna promised I wouldn't have to change diapers (other than my own) once I turned 50, and she was more than two months ahead of schedule. I will hit the milestone this April.

We were worried how Maya, who turned three less than two weeks ago, was going to react to having her diapers permanently swiped from her. She peed once while on her potty several months ago, but hasn't really been very interested in using it or the toilet.

We tried sweetening things by offering her Annie's gummy fruit, Trader Joe's oreo cookies, and even chocolate if she went either on the toilet or in her potty. That worked three or four times where we could hoist her up on the toilet, without a child's seat cover, and she would go and then immediately blurt out, "Gummies now?!"

We upped the ante last week when we started giving Miguel chewy calcium vitamins in addition to his regular multivitamins. Maya wanted some, so we said, "Once the diaper fairy comes and you are wearing big girl underwear, you will get the vitamins."

Verna had been showing Maya her new underwear (not the ones left by the diaper fairy) for a few weeks. Much like successful marketers, we were trying to create an early buzz and excitement for potty training by revealing to Maya the ultimate reward: big girl underwear.

And it worked.

She was so psyched to get into big girl underwear and earn the right to chomp on gummy vitamins, that she asked us to stop her diapers Saturday night.

So far, so good. She's had two pee-pee accidents, but has been amazingly controlled and cooperative about using the toilet. Sunday morning, while I was out at the Farmer's Market and Verna was upstairs with Miguel, Maya walked into the downstairs bathroom by herself, pulled down her pants and then her underwear, climbed onto the toilet and went #2.

Verna told me about it when I got home, and we were so excited that we high-fived each other, smiles beaming across our faces. You'd have thought David Ortiz had rocketed a homerun past the Green Monster for another dramatic Red Sox win.

When we were potty training Miguel, also at three years of age, he peed all over my hands as I tried to scoop him off the carpeted floor of Performance Bicycles, one of two stores that were part of our nightly walking ritual when we lived less than a mile away. He was also in the middle of training that same month when we visited my father and stepmother in Florida and journeyed with them to the other side of the state. We had to stop at least once an hour, so a normally three-hour ride took us more than four.

Verna and I are very focused now on asking Maya every 10 minutes or so, "Do you need to use the potty?"

The other ironic (or cosmically poetic) component to this story is we also have a puppy, Gigi, who is only eight months old, and is experiencing her own kind of bathroom issues that are giving us more headaches by far than Maya.

Gigi is the ultimate scaredy cat dog. Getting Gigi to urinate let alone anything more after dark is an often impossible chore. She bolts forward at every crunch of grass, car whooshing by, rustle of leaves. She whimpers loudly and yanks on her leash in the direction of home. If I yelled and yanked back at Maya as I do with Gigi, I'd be arrested for child abuse.

Maya we praise, while Gigi frustrates us, even though we reward her with treats as well. And she is the only one whose tummy I scratch morning, noon, and night.

Potty training, doggy training. It's a thankless job, but...

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