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July 21, 2002 - Sunday
Yesterday we bought Harry some underpants. We've been talking about it for a while and yesterday we remembered at the right time to actually do it. Harry's two and a half and that's the age that a lot of people think potty training begins. Of course, Harry's had some successes before peeing in the potty before his bath, but those really don't show a consistent pattern of either success or great interest. Really, Harry doesn't feel all that comfortable about it and flatly refuses the suggestion at any other time of day. It's more that we've been trying to use those pre-bath opportunities as a way to get him comfortable with the potty itself. On the other hand, he does understand when his body is ready for a bowel movement and always quietly runs off to another room, usually the dining room, to do his business in private. If I happen to notice he's gone and not come back and I go to look for him, he'll usually say something like "go away, dad," or "go back in the living room, dad." Right then I'll know what's happened and I'll usually ask if he needs to poop and if he wants to go to the potty. But, he'll flatly answer with a quick "no." He usually already has.

We think that that understand is an indication that maybe he's ready to take the next step, but then what the heck do we know about it. Harry's our guinea pig in this matter and we're just hoping not to traumatize him for life, while still helping him move forward. So, we put him in underwear yesterday after noon and this evening. On both occasions he went through a package of three pairs of underwear in less than two hours, and this evening after fluids with dinner it was more like one hour. He just didn't seem to get it.

Actually, that may no be entirely true. Yesterday he noticed immediately once it happened and we'd take him inside for fresh clothes. This evening when he peed in his pants he would run away and hide just like he does with the bowel movements. Is that the first step toward awareness? The trouble is that he seemed to have no sense of holding it in and rather let his body simply run it's course. This evening after the first time he "leaked," I thought he might have caught himself, so went to the potty. I actually let him stand in front of it thinking that might be fun for him (and cleaning up whatever missed would have been an acceptable trade), but nothing came. Then within ten minutes or so of going back outside he peed again. For a minute I didn't know where he was or what had happened. I had one of those, albeit mild, drop-stomach parent moments of feeling like I lost my child. He had gone all the way around the house and was hiding in a bush. As I took him back around to go inside for fresh clothes again, I asked why he hadn't peed in the potty, but I think the question was lost. He did, however, make a comment about peeing on the grass, so we went with it. I took off his wet pants and tried to have him pee on the lawn. He seemed to like the idea, but didn't have any to spare.

Since it was time for his bath, I just left him with his shirt sans pants thinking we'd go inside momentarily after I cleared away some weeds I had just pulled. Surprisingly, Harry didn't complain about having no pants on as he has before, so I let it go a little longer, then a little longer still. Then, after another 10-15 minutes and while playing away with a stick on the porch, Harry peed on the grass. I might have noticed it first, or maybe we did at the same time, but I excitedly pointed it out and he smiled. When his mother came out after putting Jeremy to bed, Harry immediately told her about this "success."

He talked about it again during our bedtime talk and I told him that if he told me when he was ready to pee again, we'd go outside and he could do it again. He liked the idea. Hmmm. Is that the first step? Is this kind of early awareness the signs of readiness, or is his seemingly complete lack of self-restraint an indication that he's really just not ready? We just don't know. Maybe we'll try again next weekend, or maybe not. I guess it depends on what we read and learn about it. We've never done this before, what do we know?

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