Frustration hit me deeply this last weekend. We were away, supposedly having fun at the Great Ocean Road, yet we were encumbered. Although he's two and a half years old, our Dylan is showing no signs of getting over his nappies on one hand; on the other his food habits are getting worse and worse with time and it's getting to the point where the only things he'd eat are comprised of sugary crap.
It's hard to get him into a proper food regime. On paper, we can be tough and force him to either eat the healthy food we serve or starve, hoping he'd surrender before we do. It should work well on paper; that's what all the would be counselors tell you to do. That and things along the line of "cook him a casserole and hide stuff in it". Yet I wonder how many of these experts have had a child in real life rather than pretend world, because in real life our child is getting sick on a fortnightly basis and then we have to feed him with stuff like jelly so he won't lose liquids and we have to feed him with any crap he would eat so he won't lose weight. The problem is, once he recovers he does not know any better than expect that regime of spoilage to continue.
With the nappies things are different. Things come down to us being lazy chickens. Lazy, because we've always been hoping the trigger to quit using nappies would come from Dylan rather than us; and chickens because we're afraid of biting the bullet, taking the nappy off, and paying the consequences.
As far as control goes, it is clear that Dylan has the ability to control his outputs, both types. What he's lacking is the mental recognition that things don't just happen in the nappy but are rather under his control. It's something we adults take for granted, but if you think about it it's not that trivial a connection to make; it's also testimony to how good contemporary disposable nappies are, so good that the baby has no idea what's going on downstairs. Regardless, the insight into what it takes to control one's own feces is an example of the wonderful things one learns as a parent: wonderful because they truly expose you to the inner working of the homo sapiens, and not so wonderful because you're literally dealing with shit.
Our latest direction has been to push Dylan into using the steps we got him from my brother so that he produces his output straight to the toilet instead of the potty. That way we'd save ourselves the misery of having to clean the potty (how the hell are you supposed to clean it after a number two?), as well as teach him the real thing. But our delicate boy is like his father - delicate - and was rather afraid of the steps contraption. Frustration got to me and I started teasing my child: I told Dylan the toilet was only for big boys and added that he's obviously not a big boy.
I was rather startled to see what an effect my words have had. Within half an hour of me saying so, Dylan had asked to sit on the toilet steps. While at it, he kept repeating he's a big boy, Abba (that's me). Great; on one hand I'm happy I got him to try it, on the other I really don't want him to think he needs to prove anything to me or assume that he needs to qualify in order to ensure my love for him. I want him to learn how to use the toilet, but not at the price of developing some sort of a complex involving a tyrant of a father.
The road is still long and windy. Sitting on the toilet is one thing; producing an output is another, and connecting the dots between producing an output and controlling production is even further down the road. Our current plan involves getting Dylan some underwear that he chooses himself in order to get him to wear them instead of nappies; once he wets them he should feel irritated enough to eventually learn what takes place down there, and hopefully we'd have ourselves a nappy less world (or rather, a nappy reduced world; getting rid of them at night is probably years away).
It's nice to have a plan, but I find the lack of quick and tangible outcomes to be quite frustrating. Again, the conclusion is imminent: those who claim parenthood is rewarding are nothing but deceptive and/or delusional fools.