Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Fall’s here. And with it comes the mostly melancholic realization that summer, as a byproduct of the arrival of sweater weather, lunch boxes, and the closing of the snack bars on the beach (and thereby access to some of the best cheeseburgers in town), is indeed over.

So when I write my annual back-to-school treatise in my mind about how I spent my summer vacation, it’s with a nostalgic giggle that I’m able to summarize the entire season by listing only three endeavors:

1. Breastfeeding an infant. Rinse and repeat.
2. Taking a whirlwind, 60-hour road trip to Northern California and back to attend a stunningly beautiful wedding.
3. Sitting in the bathroom with Finn, reflecting on how much fun #2 was while doing #1—and wishing that #3 would get it out, already.

You see, just before Finn’s third birthday in June, he got the hang of potty training and relieved me of the daunting chore of changing diapers on two kids daily. Or so we thought. The truth is, although he is fine with taking care of the other kind of #1 all day long on his own, he’s been locked in a fifth circle of hell when it comes to (insert scatological euphemism here).

The technical term is called withholding, I’ve learned from his pediatrician and parenting magazines, and it's quite common. But in plain mommy terms it translates to lots of quick-step dancing, loud protests, false alarms, more spirited dancing, then sprints to the bathroom and tears when it finally comes time to take out the trash. Not out of pain, mind you, but out of defeat. And despite our numerous attempts to get him past his resistance—encouragement, bribes, mineral oil, more bribes, Benefiber, phone calls from loved ones and superheroes alike—he, nearly three months later and after a few dramatic accidents, still subscribes to the idea that he is all-powerful and can hold it in forever, thank you very much. That, and I’m a meanie for making him go.

Ultimately, it's a control thing at its root. (I have no idea where he gets this from.) And once THE EVENT is over, of course, he’s as happy as a kitten and admits that it’s really no big deal and what a big boy I am and wow do I feel better and can I have a lollipop? Take this scenario and multiply it by once every three or four days since June. I’m not kidding. I've lost count of just how many days this summer we were, sweating and cranky from the summer heat, crammed together in the bathroom, unable to leave the house as we awaited his big moment.

I feel for the guy. It’s tough getting used to new equipment and even tougher still when you’re a living example of Freud’s definition of anal retentive. From my end, though, I am guessing that this is just one of the many trials of parenthood I hear about so often that are sure to come and go through the years--one of those it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon moments.

My mother tells me she potty trained her kids in a matter of days without issue, so there’s no turning to the Fountain of Maternal Wisdom on this one. I just have to continue to be patient and know that—sitting in the folding chair that now serves as stadium seating next to Finney’s potty, breastfeeding an ever-plumper infant—like summer, this too shall pass.

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