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Privacy, Please

This is going to be one of those blogs
Maddie hates when she becomes a teenager. I can almost hear the
cries – “Mo-om! Did you have to write about
that?” It’s also going to be a TMI blog if you’re
not into talking about body functions.

Since you’re a parent, I’m assuming you’re way
past that and this is fine.

My daughter started off her solid food
pooping life with an incredibly long bout of constipation; about
two weeks of no pooping whatsoever, which I of course captured in
cyberspace for permanence. (“Mo-om!”)

Since then, though, she’s developed into a regular little
clockwork pooper, for which I’m profoundly grateful. Unless
her eating schedule is off, she’s a two-a-day potty-goer:
once after lunch, and once before bed. In fact, waiting for her to
poop after lunch is actually built into her routine: “Give
Maddie lunch. Let her run around to play and poop for 15 minutes.
Change her and begin nap routine.”

I attribute some of this regularity to the prodigious amount of
fresh fruit she eats, and some of it simply to luck of the draw. I
certainly don’t look a gift horse, etc. But recently
she’s developed this, um, idiosyncrasy about her pooping that
is causing her parents to scramble for the appropriate way to

My child, in a nutshell, needs her privacy.

When the urge strikes, Maddie wanders off somewhere by herself: the
far side of the living room, hidden behind the coffee table, even
the empty kitchen. We’ve been trying to teach her to
recognize when she is pooping by pointing it out to her;
we’ll say, “Are you going potty?” and make the
potty sign. She clearly understands and puts two and two together,
which made us hope that potty training would be relatively easy.

What we failed to realize is that our kid has her own agenda.
Apparently, if she said “yes” to our question,
we’d usually walk over and feel her pants to confirm they
needed changing. Now that she needs her privacy she’ll say,
“No no no!” to prevent anyone from, um, coming in the
“bathroom” while she’s “working”.
It’s gotten to where we don’t even need to ask her the
question; if anyone takes a step in her general direction while
she’s doing her business, she’ll say a firm and frantic
“No no no!” and wave her hands to ward us off. Not
until she’s running around, happily screaming and clearly
lower in the pants, can we approach her.

Her grandparents were privy to this phenomenon while we visited
over Thanksgiving. One minute Maddie was playing chase with Nana;
the next, she was going into her tell-tale “zone”, not
understanding why Nana was continuing the chase. Brian had to run
over and explain quietly in her ear, and Nana changed the game to a
“Where’s Maddie?” game, pretending to hunt for
kiddo while she “worked” behind a slender tree.

Maddie’s learned that we give her space during this private
time; we figure we don’t want our kid to have some neurosis
about pooping, and so tell her it’s ok to poop and
we’ll give her the space she wants. Unfortunately, we have a
very smart kid, and she’s learned to fake pooping if she
wants a few minutes doing something she shouldn’t; say,
playing with the stereo equipment.

That’s right, my child’s already learned to lie to get
her way. I’ll be coming around the corner, peering at what
looks suspiciously like my daughter in the stereo “no-fly
zone”, when she’ll guiltily catch sight of me, then
issue a poop-like “No no no!” As in, “Um, yeah,
I’m uh, pooping, yeah, that’s the ticket! Privacy,

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of parenting books, and none of
them cover this particular aspect of the pooping thing. I’ve
raised a faker.

And the worst part about all this? I used to do something very
similar. See, I’ve loved to read my whole life, and I noticed
that when grownups went to the bathroom, they often took a book
with them. So I started getting up in the middle of the night,
going into the bathroom with a book, and reading for, oh, say, half
an hour at a time. A few worried knocks on the door, and I’d
be left in peace.

What goes around . . .


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