November 9, 2010
Ode de Toilet
One seven-year-old boy.
Three game cartridges.
Four hundred dollars in plumbing costs.
One irate husband.
Three more “flushable offence” attempts.
One hook installed on bathroom door.
Two years of facilitating independent toileting in one autistic child, now literally down the crapper.
One really pissed-off mother.
I am happy to admit that in this household when one door closes the proverbial window often opens, but this week I’d have to say it was more of a sliding glass door that yawned wide for this family. It seems after only three-and-a-half weeks of being convinced that relieving himself on the potty was inherently a terrorist plot conceived entirely by mean mommy, my youngest son, Zach, has changed his mind. Of course I should note that he ceased to have accidents in school a mere twenty-four hours after being introduced to underwear, yet decided to frequently torture his parents despite multiple potty seats and so many bribes for success that his college fund is in serious jeopardy.
Trust me, this boy knows how to work it.
To tell you the truth, although doing sixteen loads of wash a day for the better part of a month wasn’t really a part of my extravagant life plan to live large, I was able to deal with it because of that little voice in my head, the one that I’m certain is REAL. My loquacious friend was kind enough to inform me this particular child was going to “get it” quickly, that I just had to find the correct reinforcer, and all would be well. Unlike Justin, who ultimately needed to be yelled at to stop watering my carpet more than nine months after we started, I knew Zach would only respond to positive reinforcement and the precisely correct “prize”. If I wanted him to have success, it was up to me to figure out what would make him go.
For several weeks I tried pretzels, GF/CF Halloween cookies, the promise of trains, planes, and automobiles, additional tv time, etc., all to no avail. Hell, at one point I even promised him an extra visit with Pat, his favorite babysitter and the woman he’s pledged to marry someday. You know you’re desperate when you’re contemplating shelling out $30 just to see some yellow liquid in your potty.
Eventually I hit on the idea of trading Halloween books for urinary output, and I could tell the idea was enticing to him. He REALLY wanted those books, and as I paraded around the house with them, regaling him with titles including dinosaurs, ugly pumpkins, and confused ghosts, I could literally see him contemplating the cost of those reads, wondering if he could conquer his fear of our potty for the twenty consecutive seconds required to pee. He was tempted, and I knew I was reeling him in. Finally, one afternoon when he’d clearly transformed into a camel and held it in for no less than three solid hours, I was eventually witness to an extreme version of the “peepee dance”. I quickly whisked him off to our bathroom, told him he was staying there until he went, and dangled those books right in front of his little face.
He was mad. He was sad. There were tears and wringing of the hands. Since he has the memory of a young elephant I am certain down the road he will remind me of my treachery as often as humanly possible, and attempt to leverage it for something really expensive.
But eventually, he went. He joyfully, gloriously, christened our toilet, and it only took five minutes (and one month) of waiting to hear that melodious porcelain tinkle. He was proud. I was relieved, and eternally grateful that “the store is closed” and this is the last time and the last child whom I will ever have to train (I know you’ve all been dying to bequeath your offspring to me, but unless they’re bathroom savvy, don’t even think about it). His satisfaction was a thrill to behold, and I think these pictures say it all: