Friday, 5 September 2014

ode to a toddler's diaper

He pulls the diaper straps really tight. His little belly is bulging out over the top of it. He wants them to cross or touch at the very least. He succeeds.  We inspect his handy work. 

'Are you sure that's not too tight?' I ask 'It looks kinda tight.'

'Sure. Nice and cozee'. He answers.

We look up. Our eyes meet and we smile. 

Digger has been sort of potty training for months. Potty, loo or standing. Whatever. It comes and goes. I don't mind. I've been trying to be gentle about this whole thing, and to follow his lead. It's his body after all. I've learned Digger can get quite narked if I press the issue. 'No pee now!' 'Okay. Just let me know if you need help when you need to go.'

I heard a good trick to get little (and big) people to aim better: put a Ping Pong ball in the bowl. So I've popped in a bright yellow one. Thinking Digger might be intrigued and that he might be encouraged by it. He's not. He's mostly concerned that it may get flushed out. I think it might well be. I probably tried this trick too early. Like so many other things in parenthood. 

I'm not sure how much to press potty training. I even worry I am keeping him in diapers. So this week I've begun to offer underpants or diaper to him when I change him. He can go either way. Although truth be told:

Digger prefers naked. Anywhere. Anytime. He loves weeing in the garden. With his little arched back he looks like Mannickenpiss. Summer has been great for this. Naked gives him so much more feel for his body and what goes on inside. 

'Exiciting!' He exclaims when he sees what he has produced. A new and favourite word. 

His little bum soon get wrapped in a diaper again. Certainly for naps and nighttime. 

Getting it on can be a struggle. He's quick. It can be difficult to catch him. And catch him is what he wants me to do. It's a game. Currently I have most success asking him which animal he would prefer me or us to be while changing him. Miaow is his favourite.  

Respectful diaper changing and potty training takes on another level of signifance in the context of adoption I think. Few things are more intimate than wiping poo of another person - whatever age. It's private. And about personal boundaries to be acknowledged and respected. It's key for bonding too. I'll admit we hardly knew which side was up at first. Digger got hold off the bum cream at an early diaper change and ate some! In fact it was during introduction. The first day we had him alone in our house. We thought we'd killed him. Confessing guilty to Rosa his foster mum when we returned with him. She laughed in the kindest most understanding way. 

Some of our earliest and most precious bonding moments were during changing. Exchanging all important touch, eye contact and smiles in this preverbal world of his. Perfect to show attunement to use a technical term of something that can be quite magic. Now we sing and chat and take turns. He's quite involved and often pops the diaper in the bin himself. Yeah. 

But is he getting to big for diapers? 

There is a lot of external pressure - prestige even - about early potty training. Am I holding him back? Should I be pressing the issue more?

Thankfully a friend remindeded me that in Scandinavia the question isn't 'Is he potty trained yet?' But 'Has he dropped the diaper?' Much more empowering. And the power-to-the-kid isn't just linguistic. It's an approach. The believe is that it will happen in its own sweet time. On average in these northern parts of the world is 3+ for boys, notoriously later than girls. Digger is a few months short of this. I exhale. This approach sits so much better with me. 

We have become much better at changing diaper. All of us. From fumbling begins of  'sorry darling. Is that too tight?' we now manage quite quickly. At night I can even do it without waking him. Or rather - without him letting me wake him.  Yet diapers are often dry in the morning. Like this morning. Bone dry. Despite the full bottle of milk we still pour into him when we snuggle for milk and stories every night. 

Potty training is about psysiogomy. Maturity of body and mind. And Digger is definitely heading that way. With or without me rushing him. 

Days of diaper changing with Digger are numbered. 

I will miss them. 


  1. What a tender and affectionate piece of writing. A proper ode!

  2. Thank you. That is very kind. :) and much appreciated.

  3. Sqk is still in nappies and starts school nursery on Monday - then again he is only just 3. He does know what potty & toilet are for and will use them sometimes but has no recognition yet of when he is about to go. Plus he doesn't get distressed at being wet. All in all makes it ahrd to potty train.

    Wonderful piece of writing that echoes a lot of what I feel.

  4. So very sweet :-)
    Your don't-sweat-it attitude is spot on! Potty-training competitions just aren't the way forward.

  5. Ontheroadtoadopt, Good point about not minding being wet.
    And thanks, Suddenly Mummy, no sweating it seems the best approach for most things, if not all. :) Not always easy though...
    I find it amazing how Dig gets better at it day by day, without much involvement. Yesterday suddenly he was gone, I looked around only to find him in the loo, doing a nicely aimed pee standing. All by himself. He's naked/diaper free most days at home now.

  6. ontheroadtoadopt - good luck for you both on Monday. :)

  7. I'm so with you on this - getting too stressed out about it just makes the children stressed too.

    Thanks for linking to #WASO x

  8. Thanks, Stix, and you are welcome. :)

  9. I like your approach and attitude to this subject. I am currently struggling with my 3 (soon to be 4) year old who was potty trained and has now regressed. We are working with professionals and think it maybe because she is anxious. I am finding the situation exhausting and very frustrating. I haven't always handled it in the best manner, but I am now trying to be relaxed about it all and just gently encourage her throughout the day to use the toilet. Any other advice would be appreciated or if anyone else has been in my shoes and has come through it I would love to know how?! - thank you for writing this post.

  10. Yes wld be great w a diaper discussion here! I'll try to add a few nice articles I've read about it. I like Janet lansbury's approach. She goes as far as saying don't even mention the toilet. If I understand it correctly.