Thank God in Heaven above; 3-year-old Bug has put his tee-tee AND his doo-doo in the potty for the last three weeks. Plus, he wore his big boy Elmo underwear every day AND night. And was excited about it.
For weeks (maybe even months) I had been attempting to get him to try the underwear. “Look! There’s Elmo. And cookie monster.” I sang and danced in my best Elmo impersonation. “Potty time, potty time…” I cajoled in an attempt at positive peer pressure. “Big boys wear these.” Bug was totally unconvinced. He was WAY too smart (and independent minded) for that argument. I mean, this is a boy who is three, but insists he’s “pretending I’m four.” Alas, the typical Mommy-tactics were useless. So, I took comfort in the words of the Queen, my friend, mentor and mother of two fully potty-trained adults–“Nobody ever walked down the aisle in diapers”–and decided to wait it out. As with all things Bug, he usually has to make up his own mind before any efforts at convincing have a snowball’s chance of succeeding.
Then, it happened. Three weeks ago, the stars aligned with my overworked brain and dang if I didn’t forget to put 2T pull-ups on the grocery list. Yep, my oversight did not become apparent until AFTER bath time when we would normally pull on the pull-up. I searched the house and every conceivable traveling or school bag to no avail. There were no more pull-ups. Rather than letting Bug stand there in his shimmies while I scooted the minivan to the grocery store at 9:00pm, I thought we could just use one of the old diapers for the night. “Why don’t we just put this on tonight and Mommy can get you some tomorrow.” Yeah right.
The moment of truth. The tipping point. The straw that broke the pull-up’s Buzz Lightyear-clad back. Whatever you want to call it; for Bug, it was a literal defining moment. And I quote… “Babies wear diapers.”
I’m not sure at what point in his doo-doo journey he came to that conclusion, but clearly on this night he had arrived and there was no turning back. Where only a mere 12 hours before he had been content to be a “big boy” wearing pull-ups, before my eyes “big boy” took on a whole new meaning. The diaper differentiation was made and “big boy” was redefined. At one time being a “big boy” meant wearing pull-ups emblazoned with Buzz, or if you were really cool, Lightning McQueen. With pull-ups out of the equation, suddenly the parameters shifted. As they so often do.
It made me think. When staying the same isn’t an option, what do we do?
I haven’t written about my 2010 theme word in a while–the pursuit of COURAGE, learning it and living it. This episode with my 3-year-old brought it back to the forefront of my mind–a mind that perhaps needed a clear reminder of the courage required for growth.
We all reach that point at times in our lives when we realize that going back really means going backwards. It’s a defining moment just like the pull-up fiasco was for Bug. At that moment, when it’s apparent that staying where we are–staying the same–is simply out of the realm of what our own hearts can accept, things get redefined and repositioned pretty quickly. When faced with the choice of going back or moving forward, we often see ourselves in a whole new light, by a whole new definition. Our concepts of what we’re able to do and who we want to be transform. And facing those realities takes courage. Acting on them and stepping out into that new definition of ourselves takes even more.
When it comes right down to realities, what part of life ISN’T a choice of moving forward or going back? Nature teaches that the process of growing only includes a finite time period of hybernation before it becomes stagnation. To be alive is to grow and change, or to become toxic and begin the process of NOT living. In those moments, defining and differentiating progress becomes one of the greatest acts of courage.
Bug decided that very night that Elmo underwear was an acceptable option. In fact, it was a preferable alternative to the babyhood of diapers. He put them on and had no accidents during the night. “Big boy”-ness, the expanded edition, had been achieved. Beyond that, it only took one experience of having doo-doo in those sesame street numbers to convince Bug that was no longer the way to go. Presto. Surprisingly, he’s only had a handful of accidents at preschool, at home or in bed since that night. In his process of growing toward more maturity and independence, it took removing just one thing from the option box (by accident), and the game completely changed. Actually, for Bug, game over. His mind was made up and potty training was done.
I so admire this little guy–his courage, his determination, his gusto, and yes, even his “my way or the highway” attitude. In one fell swoop his definition of being a “big boy” grew beyond his comfort zone, and he embraced it without blinking an eye. I’m so inspired by that sheer resolve NOT to go backwards. A good lesson.