There are certain milestones in a child’s life that have an over abundance of advice available where it is perhaps not necessary. If the online deluge of tips were not enough. Well meaning friends and family like to chime in and tell you how you are going wrong and how you should be doing it (ie the way they did it.) For me, the worst part of child-rearing is the first few months where everyone needs to have their say like you are a complete imbecile incapable of having a single maternal instinct.
From the moment my son arrived I knew EXACTLY what to do and how to do it. I did not need someone telling me because I already had all the tools I needed to get by. I make no bones about the fact I read little, if anything about parenting. Before birth, I did worry but afterwards, it all just kind of fit. I may not have done everything right but I can bet the times I got it wrong was because I felt pressured to follow some advice. It was a constant battle of wills that needed not happen and made the whole experience more stressful than it should have been.
When the first few months had past, it didn’t subside, there was weaning (seriously, that is not stressful, stick food in front of child, stick food in front of self and eat. If they don’t eat, try something else next meal time). Then there was sleeping through. I wanted to scream at everyone who told me that my child should be sleeping through by x-months. My child shouldn’t do anything that is not where he naturally needs to be in his own damn time. Same with walking.
Now there is toilet training.
We are now into day 5. We had a plan, we stuck to it. My mother-in-law did not. The evidence is below:
This is his toilet training diary. He gets stickers for a pee in the potty, more special treats for a poo. He did a pee in the potty on day 2 when the plan was stuck to. The VERY SIMPLE PLAN. Then, my Mother-In-Law offered to have a couple of days with him. By the end of Sunday morning I was agitated by hearing ‘Sit on the potty and we’ll…’ or ‘Have a sit on the pot’, ‘let’s do this on the pot’ every 5 minutes. Then I was told that he was clearly too young to start because he didn’t want to sit on the potty. No he bloody doesn’t and I don’t blame him.
We said that we were not offering the potty to begin with but just getting him used to wee-ing in pants. If he used it, great. If not, no worries. I know my son, that whole ‘sit them on the potty every 15 minutes’ was never going to work with him.
It got worse. Aside from using my specially saved treats as just normal snacks after I’d spent time not giving him them as an ordinary event, she then told us how she used to train her children by sitting them on the potty at breakfast while they ate. I asked her to please not do this as I do not want the food/toilet events to be in any way connected. Aside from anything else, IT WAS NOT THE PLAN.
So guess what? She sat him on the potty with an ice cream and told us how long he sat there for and did not do anything but eat. We try so hard to not feed our son crap and allow treats to be fruit or things to do. It all goes to bedlam when we’re not supported. Aside from this on Tuesday morning my son decided to eat his toast in the bathroom. Just lovely.
And the greatest Mother-in-Law-ism of the weekend.
Me: “how was football?”
MiL: “oh good but he hasn’t had a wee since we left.”
“oh that’s only 2 hours so he should have one soon, he has only been having around 4 a day”
“That’s not good, he must be dehydrated. He needs more water”
“It means he isn’t peeing as he goes but waiting and if he wanted water he would ask”
(MiL promptly pulls out water bottle and asks again to sit on the pot).
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate her help. She does not normally go against our wishes however much she disagrees with it. But my poor son had 3 adults telling him 2 different things about having a wee when for the past 2 years he has been doing this quite happily in his pants. Our way is a more organic way, following his lead about what he needs to do, including the timing of the training. It’s stress-free, it’s fun in some parts when I see him picking out his own pants to wear. The joy on his face when he gets to put a sticker on the diary. I don’t really need to know how anyone else has trained their child, because that is not my child.
This weekend we are going to my Mother’s who has less respect for my wishes than anyone else and outwardly does what she wants anyway. I am trying not to put up battle front already but have come up with one big rule of toilet training that she must abide by: only one person can talk to the boy about the toilet and only when he shows signs of needing it. That one person is first and foremost my husband because he gets such a better response for going to the loo.
The proof that we’re right is in the toilet training diary. When I’ve been hanging out with my son (or our childminder who is complicit in the plan), then he does fewer wees and even got a hit today.
As a slight aside regarding the food thing. I keep getting told it is cruel to not allow him sweet and cake when everyone around him is eating that. I don’t think I should bring my child up to the values of others but to what I think it right and if that means he doesn’t eat sugary, processed foods then so be it. Other people around us disagree and feel we are doing him a disservice. So to counteract that, today my son sat opposite a child who I look after, both eating their lunch. The other child was saying he was having chocolate and yoghurt and why can’t B have some and asking him if he wants some. My son politely ignore this as he was so happy chowing down falafel, lentils, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli. I’m not saying this to show off, believe me it can be hard to get my son to eat anything some days, but to say that all the hard work fighting off the well-meaning advice givers paid off with a son who is now making the best (as I believe) food choices.