Thursday, April 19, 2012

Training Games

For the past few weeks, I have made a sad attempt to begin potty-training my son...

The odds were not in my favor.

I would like to say that it's not working out because he is not ready yet. At least, that is the official reason I will give when prompted to answer why I am calling it quits. But the truth is, I am not sure if he is the one who's not ready or if I am the one who's not ready.

Cognitively, my boy is ready. He can tell me what is supposed to go in the potty and what is not supposed to go in the diaper (or on the couch, or on the floor, or in sister's bed...) He loves to make "potty noises" while he is practicing (and realistic ones, I might add!) and then flush the toilet and sing, "Whoosh! Down goes the water!" He has memorized the potty book that I checked out for him at the library, and recites it in full while sitting on his training toilet.
I have even channeled my "inner-teacher" and created a potty activity box to keep him entertained while he is on the job and developed a reward system that I thought was sure to bring down the house: a star sticker placed on the lid of the training toilet for every successful attempt. And while my son has learned letter recognition (both capital and lowercase letters!) from the flash cards I left for him in his potty box, the boy has only put two stickers on his lid in two weeks :(
He's smart enough, but he's just not doing it.

Unfortunately, I cannot help but feeling totally responsible for our failed first attempt. If I learned ANYTHING from potty-training my daughter, it is that potty training is more a battle of wills than a development of skills. Your kids know what to do---you just have to be the one that makes them do it. Frankly, I am just too darn lazy right now to stop what I'm doing every thirty minutes to tell him to go to the bathroom. I like being able to go to store without having to head to the bathroom on the way in AND out. I like being able to go to the park for two hours and let the kids play uninterrupted. I like being able to drop my kids off for a couple hours at childcare and not worry if my child will regress because they are not being held to my highly-regimented potty schedule. I like the freedom that comes with just letting a kid do their business when and where they want to. (And if that makes me a bad mother, then so be it!)

But all this back and forth thinking I've been doing about whether or not Jack is ready for the toilet has got me thinking about how I have been playing the same game with myself...

One of my New Year's resolutions was that I wanted to start entering races, and I wanted (at the minimum) to run in a 5K race. I run all the time--3 or 4 times a week. I have no idea how far I run, because I like to vary my routes to keep things interesting, and I have never gotten around to tracking the distances. (And on-post roads don't register on GPS maps--I checked.) I also don't know how fast I run, because I always forget to check my start and stop times on routes. (I know. I'm a weirdo.)
I know in my heart of hearts that I am probably capable of running a 5K race tomorrow, but I have neglected to enter one because I don't have a real grasp of what my current performance level is. I also have postponed entering a race because I know that in all likelihood, I will have to enter the race and run it with my two kids in the jogging stroller, which will add about 100 extra pounds for me to push across a finish line and will greatly effect my running stride. (Not a big motivator right there, I have to say!)

Fortunately, I have a lot more control over the immediate results of this training habit than I do my son's---and tomorrow the kids are getting strapped in a jogging stroller and I am taking them on a 3.1 mile ride. Let the games begin.

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