Photo: Oh hey, am I posting mad late because I was fighting with toddlers all day and then got flu shots in the middle of prime nap/writing time? Am I woefully unprepared for this post as I have no picture from my weekend because we were so damn busy? Shhhhh… everybody be cool. Look at the pretty pretty and be cool… Don’t worry that it’s got nothing to do with the words below… it’s pretty, dammit!
I got the boys up this morning a little late because I slept in and then found myself watching the Today Show a beat too long. Up the stairs I flew to get little boys: It’s a school morning, after all!
After a pretty social Sunday (with church, a birthday party and a BBQ with The Husband’s work friends), the boys were not about waking up this morning and being happy about it. I did my best to keep it moving, but with more moving parts for Ursa Major’s process, it’s a hard thing to do.
First things first: The potty.
Me: Baby, do you want to sit on the potty this morning?
Major: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. [He thrashes about in his bed, unhappy to be awake, certainly unhappy to be asked to perform a task]
Me: Baby, it’s a good habit to sit on the potty as soon as we get up. It’s just what big boys do!
Major: Nooooooooooooooo. I don’t want to use the potty!! [Continued thrashing and rolling]
Me, looking for patience and compassion as I wrestle Minor with his diaper: Please, baby, let’s get out of bed and sit on the potty. Are you empty already? (I don’t know why I offer him this out)
Major: Yes. Yes, I’m empty.
Me: Well, let’s sit on the potty anyway, just so we know that this is a good habit.
Wet overnight diaper off and such, I put the still whining child on the potty. He sits there and doesn’t perform for 10 minutes. Fine. We’re gonna sit on the potty again after breakfast anyway.
Me: Well, if you’re really empty after all, let’s go downstairs and eat breakfast.
He merrily gets off the potty. Puts on a fresh new potty diaper, and goes downstairs. I fight with Minor over breakfast and toys (Lordy. Another story for another time) while he is eating. Finally, he gets himself up from the table and goes to play for a few minutes. I give him a five minute warning for trying the potty again and getting dressed (he usually has a..uh… movement… within the first 10 minutes of getting up from breakfast). He consents. I continue to fight with his younger brother. My mental timer goes off and I get him up the stairs.
I go to help him with his seat and his potty diaper and
it’s wet. What?
Me: Baby? Why is your potty diaper wet? I thought you were empty? You told mommy you were empty.
The child looks down at his feet.
Me: Did you tell me that you were empty, [Major]? You told mommy you were empty, but now your potty diaper is wet. And we sat on the potty and everything!
The child looks at me. “But I didn’t want to sit on the potty!”
Smart baby. This child didn’t want to sit on the potty. So he told me he was “empty” so that I wouldn’t make him sit on it. When that didn’t work, he decided to sit there and hold it long enough that he knew I’d let him get down so he could go downstairs. Then, well… boom.
It’s not that Major has never lied to me before. You ask the child if he hit his brother or he took a toy and he either doesn’t answer (withholding of truth–natural) or shakes his head in denial. I think that this morning’s events are of particular interest because there was a level of forethought and manipulation involved. He knew enough about behaviors, patterns, and information that he could set it up right that he could still have his way. That’s… Lord… smart. Too smart.
So now I’ve got to talk to my almost 4 year-old about telling the truth all the time, no matter what.
Me: Baby, you have to choose to tell Mommy the truth every time she asks you something. It’s very important that Mommy believes you when you say something. If I don’t believe you, you might tell me something really important and I might miss it because I won’t think that you are telling the truth. It’s very, very important that you tell mommy the truth.
My son isn’t up for the lecture. He’s now pissed and doesn’t want to hear it. He looks away, wiggles a bit.
Me: Baby, I need you to focus on me. I’m telling you something important. It’s important that I believe you when you talk to me. Just like it’s important to me that you believe me when I tell you important things.
True to form, because he’s a toddler and my child, here is what Major says next: Well, I don’t believe you when you’re talking to me!
Me: Really? You don’t believe it when I tell you I love you?
Me: Or when I tell you that breakfast is ready?
Me: Or when I tell you that you are going to school?
Alrighty. I made him sit on the potty and I walked away. I knew that he wasn’t being truthful. He believes me when I speak to him. It’s fascinating, though, to watch him begin to understand that language can be a weapon. He speaks with power easily and freely. That’s going to be magnificent and devastating later on in life. I hope I can teach him how to control that (Lord knows, though, that I can’t even control it!). In the meantime, though, I’ve gotta continue to set the firm foundations, especially around truth telling.
I feel very unprepared to teach Major about “truth” and what it means and how it is used. It’s hard to explain the very large concept of “truth” in general, especially to such an inquisitive mind that already understands that the world is a little bit bendable and boundaries are quite movable.
It’s the simple things right now: My boy doesn’t feel like using the potty so he says anything to avoid it. Tomorrow it will be telling me he’s at an after-school club but instead he’s out with his girlfriend. I suppose that I’m surprise that a little bit of the purity is gone. Here is my son, a thinker, an observer of pattern and behavior, who is able to manipulate the world just a little bit. It’s wicked of me, but there is a little bit of satisfaction in my smile: I don’t have to doubt that boy’s intelligence for any reason. But then there is the worry: How do I make sure that he uses that intelligence for good, that he’ll always trust me with it, and that I’ll never have to doubt his goodness because I can trust him to do the right thing (the majority of the time)?
Big questions on a Monday. A seemingly small incident to incite it, but big questions nonetheless.
And, of course, the potty wars continue. Awesome.
Happy Monday, dear reader! It’s gonna be a busy week! Let’s make it count!! See you Wednesday!