Thursday, August 26, 2010

Potty-mouthed boy ready for next step?

The other day, my son took a diaper from our portable caddy and handed it to me. He then grabbed the box of wipes, a changing pad and laid down on the floor. And just this week, as I picked him up from the day care, he said, "potty," and raised his shirt, indicating that he needed to be changed.

If the kid can do all that, I thought to myself, he is ready to be potty trained. But the question is: Are the rest of us ready?

My mother has been encouraging us to potty-train my son since before his first birthday. And my excuse was always that he couldn't be fully trained until he moved into a day care room with bathroom facilities. But when that happened a few months ago, he still didn't seem ready. My next excuse was the pediatrician's assertion that 18 months would be a good time to start. And now that 18 months have come and gone, I'm still unconvinced that it is time.

I understand that there are clear advantages to taking him from Pampers to Pull-ups: Every time I look over my receipts, I'm always in awe at the sheer amount of money we spend on diapers each month. And one can only change a wriggling toddler on the bathroom floor or picnic bench so many times before it grows old.
Each weekend, I pore through my books and search the Internet looking for a solid answer on the appropriate age at which a child should be fully potty trained. And every week, I am shocked to find that there is no one answer. A Google search for "potty-training tips" yields nearly 2.5 million results. Is it any wonder I'm so confused?

I even took a quiz that was supposed to gauge a child's readiness to be potty trained. My results? "Remember that there are no hard and fast rules about when a child is ready that will work for every child."

Some of the signs are there: He says potty, pulls up his shirt and is always ready to hop up on his new potty seat. But as my husband and I encourage him, the water running in the sink - I've been told it helps; it doesn't
- he seems content to simply sit there for several moments before snatching off a bit of toilet paper from the roll and holding it out for us to dispose.

My experience with him reminds me of a story that has made the Internet rounds in several different adaptations.

While out to sea, a large boat became shipwrecked and there was only a single survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon thereafter, another boat came by and offered the man some help.

"No thanks," he said. "I'm waiting for God to save me."

The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again, the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely decline. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he said again.

After some time, the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God briefly.

"Why did you let me die? Why didn't you answer my prayers?"
"Dummy, I sent you two boats!"

Through all of my research, I am waiting for an answer - a sign - that meant my son was ready for this next step. And like the drowned sailor, I've already received my answer. Now it is just a matter of whether I will be brave enough to accept it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A different world

For last two or three months, I've been trying to figure out what direction I want to take in my life and in my career. What I've come up with so far is slim. With the hubby's help, I decided last weekend that I want to live in a coastal town, have a boat and walk to gourmet grocery stores and wine shops at which I will ask the salespeople to order me whatever new wine/cheese/rare ingredient I have decided I must have in order to make some elaborate dish I discovered on Top Chef.

And with the help of my 10-year-old sister-in-law, I came up with a bare bones plan to write a bestselling novel. Written in crayon on red construction paper and adorned with stickers, the three-step plan is as follows: 1) Come up with great idea (at this point, my sister-in-law conducted a scientific poll that included herself, me, her brother and her mom to decide the book genre); 2) Write the book; 3) Have Oprah endorse book. Underneath the three steps is the ultimate goal: Success! (Written in bubble letters in that way in which one begins writing too big at the beginning causing the last "s" to be squeezed in at the very edge of the paper).

A shaky plan, I know; even for someone like myself who has held approximately 20 different jobs since I was about 15 years old, excluding those jobs that didn't require me to file taxes. What I do know, however, is that I still ultimately want to teach at the college level, which has been my goal since graduating with my B.A. The issue is how  -- and when -- exactly I plan to do that. But I know that getting a doctorate must fall within that plan at some point.

While I enjoy my job, and hope to progress in it, it feels overwhelming when I think about going back to school while juggling a husband, a toddler and a somewhat stressful full-time job. And all the while, I have to keep myself trained up at work to make the paper better and become a better editor.

I hoped that writing this would provide some spark, some idea as to what would be the best point of action to follow. Didn't happen. But that's OK. Whatever path I decide to take, I know that my family is behind me. In the meantime, I'll just try to have a little fun doing what I enjoy best - cooking and writing. And the midst of that, maybe I will figure something out.