I’m celebrating a huge, huge milestone today.
Ben, my five-and-a-half-year-old firstborn, has gone without diapers at night for 2 weeks successfully now. That meant that the last time he wore one was, well, really his last time.
I know in terms of milestones, my boy’s hitting it a little late. I’ve got close friends and fellow moms I know whose sons and daughters have gone without their diapers since three or four years old. Their kids, I hear, would just magically shed their diapers and not pass a drop of wee at night. Either that or possess this amazing ability to sleepwalk to the toilet, do their business, and go back to bed without waking a single soul.
As a mom, these stories inspire me, and tempts me to pressure my son into performing to my expectations. And then I read somewhere that pressure might totally backfire on me, and I decided to take a more nurturing approach to this.
So, when it came to toilet training at night, I embraced only ONE principle. I tell my son, “Only when you’re ready, kid.”
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to get him ready. Since a year ago, I switched those night velcro diapers to pull-up pants and attempted to brainwash Ben to think they were underwear. Every night when I put on those pants diapers for him, I would nag him to remember and imagine that he was still wearing his underwear, and he could wake up, pull these “underwear” down and do a wee like he did in the day.
Who was I kidding? The brainwashing wasn’t successful a single bit. And every night he would still pee in those “underwear”.
Then I came up with a reward system. For every dry diaper I get in the morning, he would get a ‘good-job’ sticker. I told him if he could get 3 within a month, he would be found at the toy store to pick a reward for himself.
Epic fail again there, that one. Every morning, his diaper was so wet and full you could ball it up and use it to strike 10 bowling pins in an alley.
I’ve also tried waking him up to do a wee at midnight. That usually meant he would have had three hours of rest before being awakened. Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t wish to subject myself to such a torture, because he would get so upset he would start crying.
Which meant that the other two would have their sleep disturbed as well if Ben started crying. If Nat was disturbed, I ended up having to nurse him again to calm him. If Becks got rudely awakened in her sleep, oh, God help us all. She would be even more difficult to placate because she would scream the house down and get started with those unstoppable leg-kicking.
Goddamit. I was the one who got no sleep with this midnight-do-a-pee business.
So for a while, I forgot about the whole night toilet training business, and it was, forget it, let’s not stress it.
I still encourage him to try going without his night diaper once in a while. And whenever I got resistance from him, I’d say, “It’s ok, son. Don’t worry. Try when you want to try.”
And them suddenly, five months shy of his 6th birthday, Ben says he doesn’t want to wear those pull-ups anymore. Suddenly, his stomach had the capacity to take in more food during dinner – which meant he didn’t need to drink milk before he slept. Suddenly, he was able to exercise self-control in not drinking water after 8pm. And just so suddenly, he was mature enough to shake off those emotions that came along with discomfort and wake up at midnight to do a wee without a whine.
And he was ready.
Ready in every sense of the word. Ready to take on this challenge like a big boy. Ready to show the world that he’s a champ.
I’m so glad we didn’t pressure him or make demands. And now he gets to share this pride and sense of accomplishment which would otherwise be lost if we hurried him.
So proud of you, my son. Tis’ a big, big milestone for a big, big boy!