Friday, August 07, 2009

maybe the Taoists have something here...

I'm starting to think that a certain amount of laziness in our approach to parenting is really paying off. Don't get me wrong - I work my ass off, as does Thom, and neither of us feel like inattentiveness with River gets us anything but more work down the road. So when I say lazy, I guess what I mean is "selectively non-proactive."

Earlier this year we began thinking about how to get River to move to his toddler bed downstairs with enough time before the new baby arrived that he wouldn't feel like he'd been evicted from the nursery by his snotty little sibling. We had a lot of time, and since we didn't have any great ideas about how to make the transition without a lot of drama, we just sort of let it be. The only thing we did was plant the idea in River's head that when he was ready he could try to sleep in his "big boy bed." Every now and then we would play downstairs and remind him that it would eventually be his "big boy room" instead of just his playroom. At bedtime one night, a couple months after we'd started plugging his new room, he told us, "River want sleep downstairs." I'm sure it was just a ploy to extend bedtime, and it actually didn't work out that night, but a few nights later he asked again and it was a success. For a week we had a slow transition to the downstairs room with very minimal drama and by the end of the month he was completely moved.

I just imagine if we'd taken a more aggressive approach we would have had a huge battle and not enjoyed the nearly seamless transition we did because River made the choice to move on his own. Our laziness really paid off in this case.

I look at when River stopped nursing at about 20 months and though I needed to stop for my own sanity, I know River was definitely not ready. He drew great emotional comfort from nursing - much more, it seems, than other children who ween themselves by their first year. The decision was not his own, and while weening took a short time, I think taking the choice away from him has had repercussions that last to this day. After all, the reasons he needed to nurse didn't just disappear when the boobies went into confinement. So he took the next best thing and started holding my boobs when he was sad or hurt or just needed love. At first I thought it was part of the transition and didn't want to take that source of comfort away from him too. But it's been nearly 10 months and there are no signs that he's ready to, uh-hum, let go just yet.

So yes, it's uncomfortable when I walk into a store and my 2 1/2 year old is gripping mommy's girls, but I can't let my anxiety about social acceptance affect me the way it did with weening. It's not fair to River, and I have to accept that the time will come when he is ready to pull away on his own. Making that decision himself will make all the difference for both of us. I'm taking the lazy route on this one and trusting River won't still be clutching at my boobs as he heads off to school.

Last night, as we were getting ready to plop River in the bath, he looked down at his peeper and kind of wiggled his bottom. This is usually a sign that he's ready to pee, so we asked him if he had to go and he said yes. Normally, we would follow this by an offer to go on the potty (a question he responds to as though we'd asked if he'd like some hot pokers in his eyes). We've had a couple rough days lately and I didn't want to push any buttons, so we offered to let him go in the bathtub. Imagine our heads nearly flying off when he told us he wanted to go on the potty.

Really, we were woefully unprepared. Because of his typical reaction (see: hot pokers, above) I haven't pulled out his potty chair in months. We've taken the anti-proactive approach to potty training, ignoring the issue (aside from the occasional suggestion to River) and assuring ourselves that changing diapers on a four year old wouldn't be that bad. Every now and then I think about how my grandmother potty trained me over one weekend when I was one, or I hear one of my mommy friends has started with her child. And then I happily ignore the urge to rush, and I enjoy my laziness.

Since there was no potty chair in sight, we stood him on top of the toilet seat, strattling the bowl, and hoped for the best. He stood there a while, holding his peeper, wiggling his bottom and seeming generally pleased to be doing something new. Well, a while went on for even longer and I realized that the cats hadn't been fed, and hell, preggers wanted some cookies when bathtime was done, so I went upstairs to attend to those things for a few minutes. When I came back down River was now sitting on the way too big seat and boasting of having GONE PEE! IN THE POTTY! I couldn't believe I missed it. I am so proud. And so happy we didn't try to force him onto that stupid seat before he was ready. I know it's just the first step, but because he's started on his own, all of my (repressed) anxiety about getting him out of diapers is gone. I know he will do it in his own time. And maybe even before he's four.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Hurrah for River!