She just decided.

Last Friday my nearly four-year-old daughter decided she was going to be potty trained.  We had hoped this would happen months, maybe even a year or so, before.  We started with getting the little potty out.  Making it available.  Having her try it with clothes on, then with nothing but a good book.  We then moved on to a very casual rewards system – “If you go potty, you can have a piece of chocolate,” we said with a smile.  No pressure.  A just-so-you-know situation.  As we neared three and a half we started getting antsy and upped the ante bit by bit: a piece of gum (highly coveted as a big-kid treat), ice cream, a special date with Daddy.  We took a trip to Target and she picked out what we hoped might finally motivate her: a pack of Little People princesses.  She would get excited – regale everyone we saw with the growing list-o’-bribery, wide-eyed with anticipation.  Then the eyes would return to normal size, a satisfied smile would cross her face and she’d say “I’ll do it later.”  Later.

I thought “later” meant never, but clearly, if she had the wherewithal to know it, she meant: “When I decide.  That’s when it will be.  I desperately want to be in charge, and in this one case I actually am.  Ha!  You can’t make me go, I’m in a struggle between my desire to stay the baby and become a big girl and need to work this one out on my own.  Got it mom?  Later.”

Got it.

She just needed time.  Which is the same thing I need when I’m working something out.  From the days when I, myself, potty-trained, to high school when I was attempting to decipher boys, to college when I was pondering what I believed about the universe.  To last week when I was figuring out why I was grumpy.  It all takes time.  And perhaps this year of waiting for Mae to crack the code of her own psyche is a good warm-up.  Foreshadowing her years of working-it-out to come.  I need to remember this.  As the internal investigations mount, and are more complicated than “To pee or not to pee,” I should look back at her potty training days and remember that she’ll get there.  Sometimes with my help, and sometimes all on her own.  She may just do it later.   Got it, Jenea?

Got it.

One Reply to “Later”

  1. This is a brilliant piece of writing, Jenea, really brilliant! I don’t think I’m just saying that because I have a two-and-a-half year old who seems to also have decided that later is better. This not only hit me where I’m at, but I loved the subtle reference to Shakespeare (“to pee or not to pee”!!) and the repetition of “later” and “got it.” It is just so well written, and so true, and such a good reminder. Thank you, for all of those things! Keep posting!

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