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Trying To Earn That Popsicle

We are still in the throes of nudging a
resistant Maddie into using the big-girl potty, and I’m
beginning to fear that my jokes about Maddie still wearing diapers
in kindergarten may well have a whiff of reality about them.

And on the heels of that statement, let me thoroughly confuse you
and say that my daughter is completely potty trained; she simply
refuses to use the toilet.

Madeleine’s been aware of when she
uses her diaper for over a year now. For the past several months,
she has woken up with a dry diaper and not peed until I asked her
to. When she needs to poop, she notifies everyone and heads off
somewhere for privacy. There is no toddler in this state, I dare
say, who has better control of her bladder and bowels than
Madeleine does.

So good is her control that I can place her on the grown-up toilet
in the morning, before she’s gone pee, AFTER she’s
eaten breakfast, and she can hold it in while sitting there for,
oh, twenty minutes or so. “I guess I just don’t have to
go pee,” she’ll state, after staring intently in the
potty the whole time. After which pronouncement she’ll hop
down, get diapered up, and announce her intention to pee. And then
remind me that I’ll need to change that diaper.

The issue, then, is clearly psychological, and our
pediatrician’s encouraged us not to push the issue. We spent
an entire day buck naked and at the end of ten hours Maddie still
had no need to go pee, though the look of bliss on her face when
she finally did – fully dressed – spoke otherwise.
We’ve been reduced to bribery, and even that’s not
panning out well: I’ve got a freezer full of
chocolate-covered cheerios, and have told Maddie she can have a
handful of them or a popsicle when she pees in the big potty.
Several times a day, Maddie will declare she needs to pee, then
march into her bathroom, take her diaper off herself, get up on the
chair and sit there quite comfortably for quite a while. After ten
to twenty minutes, she’ll ruefully allow as how it’s
not going to happen, get dressed, and continue on her day.

I know this thing is completely unconscious, and that she really
wants to get past this barrier and move on. Maddie sees using the
big-girl potty as a very grown-up thing to do and knows she has to
before she can go to some schools, so she’s anxious to get
this skill under her belt. But for whatever reason, she can’t
let go and let it, um, out.

The other day we were at a pool party and Maddie saw kids getting
popsicles out of a cooler. “Mommy! Can I have one of
those?” she asked excitedly. Not a big fan of lots of sweets,
I declined. “Why not?”

“Well, first of all, other families have different rules, and
our family’s rule is that we don’t eat sweets a lot.
Secondly, we’ve said you can have a popsicle when you pee on
the big-girl potty, remember?”

There’s a pause, while Maddie thinks. Then –
“Mommy, I need to use the potty.”


“Yes,” she said firmly.

So we found a fellow mom to watch Cora, stripped off the swim suit
and swim diaper, and sat Maddie on that public toilet in the
cement-floored pool bathroom, where she stayed for fifteen minutes
trying to win that popsicle. Chagrined, Maddie finally admitted
defeat, and I could see the tears in her eyes.

“Tell you what,” I said. “Let’s get a
popsicle to take home with us, and when you do use the big potty,
it’ll be waiting for you. Ok?”

We’ve got the popsicle in our freezer drawer, and Maddie
opens that drawer and looks tenderly at it a couple times a day,
anticipating the taste and texture, debating whether the pink
popsicle will be watermelon or strawberry or pink lemonade.

One of these days she’ll find out first-hand, and I can only
hope the popsicle is still good then. I think they’ve only
got a shelf life of two years.


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