Challenges and Joys

Home / Challenges and Joys - November 17, 2011 , by kimberly

Being a parent provides many moments of joy – unfortunately, those little buggers also have a way of showing us that “no, we are not in fact smarter than a fifth grader toddler.”

There are times when I am so proud of Mackenzie and can’t help but silently think to myself “wow, we’re such good parents”

And then there are other times when I need to put my own self in time out because that child can muster so much anger and frustration that I literally can’t think straight. Then I secretly think “shit, I’m a terrible parent – I am SOOO not cut out for this”

And yet, here I am a mother of TWO. Sure the little guy (five months old yesterday) isn’t giving me much trouble yet

– But Mackenzie (the 4 year old) can give me a run for my money any time the notion pops into his head.

Don’t get me wrong – he is a great kid. His teachers at preschool all love him and tell me how they’d love to just have him there all the time, that he is the best listener, super smart – yada yada. And, when he says things like “Mom, I really love you” or responds to my question of what he’ll dream about tonight with “loving you guys” – in those moments he can do no wrong. He’s a great big brother and I know he loves Spencer so much. He’s also so kind and gentle with our dogs – with which he has now started playing snowball catch with in the yard.

There is only one BIG ISSUE that causes tension in our home. And it is awful.

I actually don’t even like talking about it. I don’t discuss it with friends, or other mothers. I rarely discuss it with family. Yes, I am embarrassed. Embarrassed that at the ripe old age of 4 1/2, my son- to this day- does not want to go #2 in the potty. He refuses and it is a battle to the death every single time.

There it’s out. Judge me know.

For starters, it is not a matter of him “not being physically ready” or being “unaware of what is happening.” He knows he needs to go. But he will hide in the closet, in a corner, or simply stop in the middle of whatever activity he is doing (playing trains, riding his bike for god’s sake) and do the deed right there. In his pants.

“I wasn’t doing anything, promise”

It is vile. It is disgusting. Having to clean this up makes me want to vomit.

We started having a potty schedule where he would need to sit down and “try” once every hour. So once every hour he would kick and scream and cry and yell at us for a good forty minutes and finally go potty. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Our days were spent around either going potty, arguing about going potty, or cleaning up from not going potty. He has a little potty that he can set up anywhere “he feels comfortable” – he still refuses.

This was obviously not working.

We’ve done it all – be nice, be mean, be casual about it, reward him for going – stickers, a new bike, candy! Nothing has worked. Because we knew it was a “control issue” and not a “physical” issue we started telling him he’d get stuff taken away if he pooped in his pants. He lost everything. He earned them back one by one by going potty correctly – only to lose them all again. We told him to try going before we left the house for fun things – that if his pants were dirty when we got there, we’d have to come home. He refused to go before we left – his pants were always dirty by the time we got wherever it was we were going – and we’d go home.

As a parent, it really sucks to say things like “if you do this, we won’t go here.” And then your kid does “this” and you don’t get to go. Darn it, I WANTED TO GO THERE.

The fact of the matter is that he doesn’t care. He’s not embarrassed. A kid at preschool called him out in front of his class and his teacher “Big Mack pooped in his pants” – he didn’t care. I don’t get it.

This has been going on for two years. People keep saying “don’t worry, he won’t be doing this at three” – he was. “Don’t worry he won’t be doing this at four” – still is. “He won’t be doing this at 18″ – for the love of god, don’t jinx it!


As a parent it is extremely frustrating. I am embarrassed when this happens at a restaurant or at the store, or when he’s playing with other kids. I don’t want other parents or kids thinking that I’m neglecting him or that he’s the “stinky kid” (you know you had one in your class!). It just sucks. And the moment we either ask him if his pants are clean or ask him to try going potty – the battle is on. Yelling at us, crying, and screaming. I don’t know what to do.

It is the only aspect of parenting where I am utterly and completely baffled.

As it turns out, our days still pretty much revolve around going poop in the potty and I hate it. I just want to get through this stage and move on. An attitude I can deal with (and he’s got that too) but the nastiness I simply cannot comprehend.

And now, I’m sure I’ll get really awesome comments like “you’re doing it wrong” “It is your fault” etc. and that is the exact reason that I haven’t brought it up before. But there you have it. The biggest parenting challenge I have.

Today’s post was sparked by this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.


6 thoughts on “Challenges and Joys”

  1. Melissa says:

    Potty training is a nightmare! And my heart goes out to you that you’re dealing with this. You poor Mama. :( I baby sat a boy that did this exact thing and there was no reason why. He finally got the concept when I spent money on a toy he reallly wanted and he had to earn it by pooping on the toilet. Took him a month but he finally earned those stickers. Longest month of my life. . . lol. People told me this is “normal” for boys but I have yet to figure out WHY it is so!
    Here from Mama Kat

    1. Thanks Melissa! He filled out a whole sticker chart and earned his “big boy” bike – but then went right on back to this same old routine. I’ve heard its “normal” too and yet, he’s the only kid at preschool thats doing this… very frustrating

  2. Suzanne says:

    Oh you poor thing. What can you do? MAKE him poop?! My son didn’t like to poop in the potty either so finally I spent a “no pants” day with him at home. He pooped on his foot while he was playing with his trains and was so traumatized by it that he never went anywhere else but the potty again. “Poop goes in the potty, not on your foot.” I’m not sure that I’d write a parenting book about it, but the “Traumatic Poop Experience” seemed to work for us.

    Stopped by from Mama Kat’s

    1. Right?! I can’t force any of it. One of my friends had the same type of “traumatic poop experience” and I’m secretly hoping for it to happen!

  3. arnebya says:

    Holy shit (literally and figuratively). I have nothing to offer in the way of helping you figure out how to combat this other than things that came to the top of my head (and probably won’t work). I do have encouragement to keep on trying, keep on thinking, pay attention to the things he truly, absolutely wants and see if not getting/doing those things make a difference, though (I know, I know, it seems like you’ve tried everything and no one wants a continual punishment system). Does he have a step stool for when he sits on the toilet? Sometimes kids are uncomfortable not being able to touch the floor. Have you made certain he’s not afraid of the toilet itself? The sound maybe (sorry if my questions seem dumb)? How about dumping the poop in the toilet in front of him? It sounds like you’ve done so much already and he becomes immune to it — rewards, mean, nice, etc.

    Outside of these things (and duct taping him to the bowl), are you willing to just let it go a while? Take away the control he knows he has over you and just drop it. It’s no longer a cause for angst or tears or yelling or anything. Let him shit on himself, nasty as it is, even at school, but make him clean himself (how long do you usually let it stay on him? Maybe he needs the risk of a rash (if that sounds abusive, I didn’t type it). Don’t let him see you change the baby as much (b/c he’s probably still associating it as “ok” to go on himself). What about books for kids on going? And seriously, anyone who reads this and is judgmental rather than empathetic…screw ‘em. There is nothing akin to parenting, especially when faced with a dilemma. None of us is perfect. I know damn well I’m not (and sometimes I try really really hard). I’ll keep thinking and reply again if I come up with anything else I think might help.

    1. Yeah he has a step stool for the big potty but we also got him a little one that he can set up anywhere so that he is “comfortable”.
      I sometimes think of doing exactly what you’re saying and just let him do it his way until he’s ready. The only problem with that is that it is just so incredibly gross – in the car, at dinner, etc. It is so awful. He does have to clean himself up afterwards and even that he seems to be immune to – “wouldn’t it be easier if you just went in the potty?!” – doesn’t care.
      Thanks for all of your suggestions.

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I am a twenty-something working gal, a wife and mom to two young boys - a preschooler and a second grader.
I'm a strong believer in forging my own path and making my own rules.
My husband and I are both history majors trapped in the business world; our adventures tend to have a history lesson attached.
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