Rowan has a bit of a pooping problem.* The little guy holds it in too long. Then, because he’s afraid to release the monster his poop has become, he fights it even more. It’s a vicious cycle, really.
Although our doctor said that constipation is common in toddlers — especially during potty learning — I decided to take action. We’ve been trying the usual remedies (water, fruit, oatmeal) with some success. But none of that’s very interesting.
So instead, I give you the three stupidest ways I’ve convinced Rowan to poop in the toilet:
- Offering Bribes
Officially, I’m against bribery. Unofficially, I kind of like it because it works. Well…it sort of works.
My experiment began innocently enough. Rowan was refusing to poop, so I threw him a little incentive. If he pooped in the toilet, he could have a freezie pop. It worked! The lure of an artificially flavored, plastic-encased concoction of corn syrup slush convinced him to set the fighter free!
But it didn’t take long for Rowan to get smart. "If I don't poop, can I have blueberries instead?” Um... What do I say to that? I mean, I’d rather feed him the blueberries, but the kid’s gotta poop. And for that matter, what are we now negotiating? Treats for pushing it or fruits for holding it? Huh?
And then he got really smart. He attempted to score treats for burping, farting and spitting on the couch. I explained that pooping in the toilet isn’t the same as performing rude bodily functions on our furniture. His reply? “Well, if I spit in the sink can I have a treat?”
My current take on bribery is that it only works if you have short-term goals in mind — very short-term goals.
- Applying Poop Potion
I’m not referring to some herbal remedy or traditional cure. Nope, our poop potion is simply a jar of expensive organic moisturizer that I dab on Rowan’s cheek (face, not butt) when he has to poop. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t choose a cheaper placebo like tap water or something.)
Rowan is as convinced that the potion softens his poop as I am that it softens my skin. I doubt it works in either case, but it makes us feel better. I guess that’s all that matters. Kyle just shakes his head.
- "Talking the Poop"
Super embarrassing and highly effective, “talking the poop” is the practice of giving Rowan’s poop a voice — letting it express its own needs, if you will. (No, I'm not kidding.)
It all started one evening during a luxurious bubble bath. I had just settled into the tub with a magazine, when Kyle burst through the doorway, holding Rowan at arms-length.
“Rowan’s gotta poop, and it’s a hard one,” he said, plopping the already grimacing toddler onto his Elmo potty seat. (I know what you’re thinking: “This girl’s life is like a day at the spa!”)
As soon as Rowan’s butt hit the seat, he began fighting the inevitable. Kyle’s coaching didn’t help. “C’mon, Ro. You’ve got to get that thing out, or it'll just get harder. You can do this!”
Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea! (Did I mention that I was enjoying a glass of wine during my bath?) We had to make our case in a more child-friendly way!
To Rowan’s delight and Kyle’s horror, I began talking as though I were Rowan’s poop. (Imagine a cartoonish voice to get the full effect.) “Well, hey there, Rowan! It’s me, your poop. You've gotta push me out, so I can go for a swim!”
Rowan’s imagination didn’t miss a beat in this little improvisation. “But you’re too hard, poop,” he replied. “And I don’t like the toilet. I want my diaper.”
“Oh, I don’t want to be all squished up in some stinky diaper,” I said (as the cartoonish poop, in case you’re not getting this). “I want you to set me free!”
I won’t pain you with further details (this has been painful enough already), but Rowan's poop eventually took a happy trip down the waterslide. “Have a nice swim,” Rowan said as he flushed. “Woo hoo!”
Then he asked for a freezie pop...
There you go. You now know the three stupidest ways I’ve convinced Rowan to poop in the toilet. So if you’re ever in a Target restroom and hear a well-intentioned young mother talking like a disgruntled poop, cut her some slack. She’s doing the best that she can.
*Rowan: If you're now 16 and reading this, I’m truly sorry for embarrassing you. You have no idea how wrapped up a parent can become in a child’s bodily functions. I promise you’ll understand someday. Love you!