This was the cry heard throughout our house this morning, in a pitying wail from our 3-year-old, who is dealing with the difficult transition of potty-training, and wishing he could just go back to the simplicity of infancy. I don’t blame him – I can see the appeal.
He is so close.
He can do it, and he has felt the discomfort of forgetting, and having wet pants, and wet socks, and walking/waddling with legs spread wide…diapers/pullups are so easy. Yeah, there’s the downside of being “stinky”, but the upside is not having to think about it…not worrying about it. Who wouldn’t opt for babyhood?
So, we started this morning with a complete meltdown. Actually, several meltdowns. First, after coaxing him to brush his teeth, which, for some reason, he vigorously resists, he wanted to be carried downstairs. But, I’d just been reviewing my symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis with my colleague in clinic, who advised me to avoid picking up J, as that seemed the likely cause of my pain. So, I told J I couldn’t carry him downstairs.
This refusal led to him sitting down at the top of the stairs and screaming.
I went downstairs to get ready for work.
“Imma – why did you leave me?!?!?” in a blood-curdling and barely understandable wail, came from the top of the stairs.
Dad and I encouraged him to come downstairs, and he continued to fight with the routine of the morning, and then I caught a whiff of poop from his pull-ups (we had had a conversation with the preschool just the day before, and agreed that he would be coming to school in pull-ups rather than underpants, at least for awhile…pottying at school wasn’t working so well as it was at home). He tried denying the obvious, but finally acquiesced to going upstairs and getting changed.
Once upstairs, he refused to have pull-ups on again, and I was faced with the odd contrast of a child saying loudly and insistently “I want to be a baby!” and “I want to wear under pants!”
So, we went with the underpants.
Breakfast got eaten, more or less, and then another trigger (can’t remember what exactly) triggered another bout of wailing and “I want to be a baby”, which led to me holding him in my lap and saying soothingly, “Yes, I want to be a baby sometimes, too”. And, I do understand – it’s so hard to take on the notion of autonomy, responsibility, and the potential for consequences that growing up brings with it. Who wouldn’t want to be a baby?
I listed all the things that babies can’t do, and all the things that big boys can do – running, jumping, naming colors and numbers, playing with Legos, etc. He seemed to agree that there might be some advantages to growing up, but then remember that he “wanted to be a baby”!!
We finally managed to get out of the house, and go to school, where he finally relented, and let me change him into pull-ups, for the benefit of his teacher.
He has to grow up. There’s no stopping it. It makes him anxious. But it won’t stop. He will survive this transition, and so will we all.
I look forward to reaching the other side.