I do believe it’s time to revisit the potty stories! As I have mentioned before, potty has been a struggle for Cameron, but he gets better every day. In fact, just recently we had a full month with no accidents! This is something he’d been working on since the beginning of the summer, so it was a huge victory when he made the 30-day mark, after about six months of trying. My husband, Jon, told him that if he made it 30 days without an accident, we’d go to a water park. Although I thought this was a bit unattainable, he did it!
The potty issues have been a part of our lives for a long time now. To reiterate what I’ve said in past posts, this was one of the first missed clues that Cameron may have a sensory issue. He was having frequent accidents (like four or more poop and/or pee accidents per week) and had only one or two dry nights in his life at the age of six. On numerous occasions, I would see a giant wet spot on the front of his pants and would tell him he peed his pants. Always argumentative, he’d say, “No I didn’t!” look down, touch his pants, then say, “UUUGH!” I had told his gastroenterologist that I really didn’t think he knew when he had to go or when he went, but I felt a bit unheard. So, when we finally got the Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) diagnosis, I told Cameron that the therapist said he really can’t feel when he has to go to the bathroom, just as I’d suspected. Cameron’s response was, “Yeah! I know! Tell Dad that because he doesn’t believe me!”
Jon is not a dad who rules with an iron fist, but he was frustrated. Mother Theresa would be frustrated with our situation. It’s really hard to have a son who poops and pees his pants after being potty trained for years. There’s constant cleanup, non-stop stinky laundry, dozens of destroyed underwear thrown into the landfill (because sometimes, I am just not trying to wash that out!) There’s a lot of emotion that accompanies an “accident-prone” child too- guilt, empathy, anger, sadness, etc. It doesn’t seem like it’d be this big of a deal, but trust me, it is! It’s also difficult to believe that someone doesn’t feel when they have to go. Potty-ing just seems like a human function that doesn’t need teaching beyond a certain point. Like feeling hunger, for instance—no one has to tell you you’re hungry, you just are! No one should have to tell you that you need to use the bathroom either, but such is the nature of the SID beast.
When Cameron was almost four, Jon went away for the weekend. Our daughter, Amelia, was four months old, and Cameron, who doesn’t transition well, was still adjusting to having a baby in the house, and was now angry that his dad was gone. This was one of the worst weekends of my life. For real. Besides my grandma’s memorial being that weekend, Amelia could have suffered a traumatic brain injury if I wouldn’t have stopped Cameron from hitting her over the head with a folded up play baby stroller. I stopped him inches from her head; I am pretty sure it’s a miracle, because I’m still not sure why or how he was able to stop, or why or how I turned and looked at him at that exact moment.
The icing on the already despicable cake was when Cameron was supposed to be napping, but was instead fighting. When Amelia was a baby and Cameron was a preschooler, I occasionally tried to nap when they did; however, whenever I did this, Cameron refused to sleep. He’d say he didn’t want his blanket, then he wanted it, then he wanted to be covered, then he didn’t, then he wouldn’t stay in his room… Grrr. On this particular day, after making an encore presentation to my bedroom a half a dozen times, Cameron once again came into my room, where I was attempting sleep, and said, “Come look at this.” I begrudgingly got out of bed and let him lead me to his room.
On the floor, there was a wet spot. “What’s this?” I asked. I looked over at him, with his smug smile and devious eyes and asked a question I already knew the answer to. “Is this pee?”
Cameron, still smiling, pointed to another place on the carpet and said, “Look at this.” I should add that there was a distinct smell of poo, as well, but this exhausted, post-partum mother could not take any more at that moment. So, I did what any sensible person would do at times like this. I put myself in a time out while I cried, thinking, “What is wrong with my child?” Cameron came to watch me for a while, as if I was trying to win an Academy Award.
“What’s wrong?” he asked… As if he didn’t know. Honestly, I don’t really remember what happened after that. I think I may have post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m sure I did not get a nap; I know I cleaned up the pee, like my son was a dog who piddled on the floor because he was excited to see me… Or maybe he was marking his territory. I mean there’s that new sister thing—he may have wanted to make sure his room stayed his room in case she decided to come try to take it over. Anyway, I did eventually figure out that the smell of poop (which I really should be immune to now, but I’m not) was coming from Cameron’s WINDOWSILL. He smeared it. On the windowsill. It kind of blended in, so it was pretty hard to detect. Really. Do other parents have these stories?
Let’s return to the present, and celebrate how far we’ve come. No more trying to kill his sister–if he does, she can fight back now–no more marking his territory, no more smeared feces like a monkey in a cage, and, most importantly, no more surprise accidents. Cameron’s accidents are much less frequent—in fact, at the risk of jinxing us, I think his accidents are what could be considered “typical” for a seven-year-old. Frustration, empathy, sadness, and anger have been replaced-most of the time, anyway- with pride– Pride in Cameron, and pride in our family for persevering.