Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Toileting troubles

Is it our almost two year old with potty paranoia? No, no, no! Quite sadly, it is the almost five year old who has been reasonably happy peeing, pooping and flushing since she was 2 1/2 years old who has now decided she hates toilets. Kyra has had occasional panic about flushing--an overflowing toilet at her day care once set her to avoiding beverages and holding her pee long enough to make any camel mama quite proud (and her human mama quite concerned). She has never been a fan of public toilets and those awful automatic flushers that threaten the too-slow bum with a whirlpool bath. This hasn't been of great concern to me, however, because her father still doesn't use public toilets unless it is absolutely unavoidable. He seems relatively well-adjusted, this fact notwithstanding, so I have simply assumed a mild toilet aversion is genetic to his side of the family. What has been a mild aversion has become quite major, however, with shrieks, tears and cries heard around southeastern Massachusetts as we attempt to simply have Kyra try to pee. She has taken to waking us in the middle of the night when she needs to use the bathroom because "the water level is rising." Prophetic words from Noah, calling all the animals to the ark? Not quite--simply concern that the unflushed pee from one of her parents trying to quietly exit the bathroom without waking two light sleepers will suddenly wash over the side and....what? Wash away the lower part of her body? Slowly burn the skin off the soles of her feet like spilled acid in a lab? Turn her into the potty monster, haunting the dreams of similarly afflicted kids? We have no idea! Matt thought he had cured her of the fear through an evening of strategizing. He splashed some toilet water on the floor (his idea, not mine!) and showed her there was nothing there but water. He helped her to consider where she could climb to if the toilet did overflow--perhaps a stool, or in the tub, or run squealing from the bathroom. Toss a towel down if you're feeling extra brave! Information seems not to have been the cure, however, as the fretful tears continue when we ask the seemingly benign question, "Did you flush?"

My sister tells me that phobias are simply a random receptacle for all your fears, anxieties and worries. I considered this and shared this possibility with Kyra, asking, "Is there something else you are really afraid of? Are you worried about Mommy or Daddy or something scary happening?" Without hesitation she said, "No, I just hate toilets." Hmmm....any suggestions anyone?


Kristen said...

Wow. I feel the need to laugh, but I know it's not funny for you guys right now!

I don't know if you've tried this or if it would work, but have you tried *not* talking about it?? Meaning bathroom info in general - not asking if she's gone, not asking if she's flushed, not giving any attention to the shrieks over toilets...?? I know with Bryce, when we pay more attention and show more concern about his weird, quirky phobias and preferences (and believe me, there are A TON), they get worse. When we barely acknowledge them, or say things in a very matter-of-fact way, present him with choices (in this case, I might try, "you can either use the bathroom now or while we're out shopping - you choose"), he might get more intense in an effort to keep the attention on his "issue" - but then the novelty eventually wears off and he moves on to another issue. Just what you want, I'm sure!

Sue Sehulster said...

We must be riding some similar wave with a "topic of the day" -- personalities one day, potty issues the next. I too have a "camel child" - not out of fear, but rather that Aidan just can't be bothered. Our potty issue? Finding the APPROPRIATE place to pee. We live on 17 acres, and our adventuresome boy (who's convinced we live in a jungle) -- thanks to the prompting of his Tarzan Daddy -- has discovered the joy of being able to pee outside. Well, why not? We were walking in our said "jungle," he had to go, so he dropped his pants. End of story. Our issue? Not every outdoor place is your own private jungle. Yesterday: a visit to our park, loaded with children. As usual, Jack was the usual magnet, this time with 3 little girls running over, "oooh, can we pet your dog?" As soon as I said, "Sure, his name is Jack" I heard my boy pipe up, "And my name is Aidan." I turned to him, ready to encourage (as always) his friendliness and politeness, when to my surprise (shock?) I saw him standing there with his pants down around his ankles, and his arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross. I rushed over to him to pull up his pants as quickly as I could, but the little girls didn't miss the show. "Aidan, what are you doing?" And of course he replied, "I have to pee, Mommy, and we're outside." If it's not one issue with our children, it's another. An answer for Kyra's dilemma? Got a jungle anywhere nearby? :)

GrampaPeter said...

Just wondering - might be an unconscious anxiety about starting Kindergarden in September. One of my daughters wouldn't use the toilet there - change of clothes included... i would also suggest not talking about it.