So my little nugget Gabriele is an inquisitive soul for his twenty-months of age, and I have decided that now may be the right time to approach the P-word; potty-training. His knowledge of the world around him, his family, pets, home and the great outdoors is expanding by the day; when I change his nappy he always chirps in with a giggle whilst saying “puhh” before insisting he takes it to the kitchen bin all the while cheerfully chanting “bin, bin bin” and then clapping his hands as he slams the peddle-lid back down and dances like a chubby disjointed lady ga-ga tribute act. He can point out each feature of the face and correctly accompany it with the words “mouf” “eey” “noz” “ed” “eayr” “chekk” “teef” and “tong” – his accent, not mine might I add! And so I believe that he, as a sponge-cub of enthusiasm for life, is ready to experience proper toileting. Much like a hardened smoker using a phone app to mark their progress of quitting smoking with a savings calculator, my OCD number crunching nappy crush is on overdrive at the thought of counting plops in a potty in favour of pounds for disposable pants which may possibly accumulate to a family visit to the zoo come Easter. But how do I approach this delicate matter without putting too much pressure onto my carefree beau?
Millie was two years old when I decided to potty train her, we’d just moved into our family home and along with her new bedroom she got a spangly pink potty to boot. She trained amazingly easily, like a duck to water as her understanding of language and directions was, and still is, second to none. But four and a half years later, and with a cheeky little man on my hands I feel somewhat up against the odds this time around. I know that boys develop and progress slightly behind girls, but every child is different, which is why I feel the need to start Gabriele off slightly earlier in order to give him enough time to gradually adjust.
I began today with baby steps as I am adopting the softly-softly approach by thus far introducing Gabriele to his new potty; a baby blue and purple high-backer with a zebra, hippo and numberplate for decoration. I accompanied the introduction of the potty to his inquisitive chubby face with some rather enthusiastic “ooh” “ahh” and “woo” sounds in order to build up his interest before inviting him to “sit” and “down” whilst also extending a reassuring hand to get him into position. Alas this was met by him stiffening his legs to keep himself straight as a board and squealing at the top of his lungs to escape. I have since discovered my iphone5 has been dumped face down in the potty along with one of Millie’s hairbands when I returned from the kitchen to fetch a drink. So far it hadn’t been the response I’d hoped for, but this afternoon we passed a great milestone as I caught him stalking around his potty so grabbed my camera and watched from the doorway as he sat down and clapped.
The next strategy I’m implementing is to teach Gabriele about “wee wee” and “poo poo”. He loves to burst into the bathroom and attack me when I am having a shower by pushing the screen door inwards at me as I scramble and slip about trying to contain the water and rinse the shampoo suds out of my eyes so that I can catch sight of him long enough to demand that he stops. He also likes to give me a hug when I’m on the toilet; which more often than not turns out to be nothing more than a vindictive ploy to remove the toilet roll from it’s holder. He takes it off of the wall and toddles off just far enough so that I’m stranded and can’t reach him, as I beg for the tissue back whilst he merrily unravels it with a knowing grin. Sometimes he stands before me as I perch on the toilet and he looks around the room with his bottle of water pursed between his lips, uncurls a chubby finger and slowly and steadily points at everything he can name around the room “sinhk” “towwl” “tizshu” “barf” and “dor” before clapping and walking off. As you do.
So this afternoon whilst visiting the bathroom for a pitstop I invited Gabriele to join me. I perched on the loo and repeated “wee wee” as he heard the sound and saw me in situ. My mantra is to show him that people do wee wee’s whist sitting down, that it makes a sound and he currently does it in his nappy without realising, but once he is aware of a wee wee then he can become conscious of when and how he goes. My situ sound-off idea almost worked until Gabriele began taking great interest in the toilet, pointing at my tissue in the water and trying to wrestle the rest of the roll off of its holder on tip toes, presumably to throw the entire thing down the toilet just like Mummy had showed him! Oh dear. He is also now aware of the fact that water lives in the toilet and is highly excited about watching it flush, gargle and swirl around whilst wanting to dip his hands in it. Men!
As I am completely in control of Christmas this year, my shopping is done, presents delivered, house in order and everything to plan, I kindly volunteered to take my exasperated parents on a festive shopping trip to help them to finish last-minute buying for family and friends. Between stopping for coffee, cookies and treats along the way we soon got into the swing of Christmas shopping and the bags piled up on the pushchair as we hopped from shop to shop. It was lovely to spend an afternoon with my parents and what girl doesn’t love a spot of retail therapy! Despite convincing myself that I was merely attending for the company and my ability to park in tight spaces, I returned home with a boot load of unnecessary bags filled with shoes, tops, skirts, nail varnish, accessories and jeans versus their one large clutch of gift wrapped goodies. I honestly don’t know how I manage it. I think I have an addiction!
It is now just four days until Christmas and I am emotionally on par. It is our first Christmas as a family of three and I am bloody ready for it. At present I’m approaching the big day like any other visit to see my parents, with the addition of a well-lit tree in the lounge and a four-course champagne feast. Yes it’s the most wonderful time of the year to be loved and to celebrate with family, a family that has predominantly halved in size in these past five months and a love that has been crushed, strangled and died a violent death, but hey, there’s always someone worse off than you right? And think of all the trees I’ve saved in not having to write a load of Christmas cards! I don’t have to place all of my expectations and impossible fairytale endings onto Christmas day. I don’t have to have anyone with me other than my cat and dog on Christmas morning to bask in the excitement of seeing the children’s faces with me when they wake up. And I certainly don’t have to have anyone sitting beside me at the family table, because everyone knows that the best seat in the house is the one on it’s own at the head of the table, you don’t have to contend with knocking elbows or lack of plate space and when you need the loo you can simply nip away without being noticed. It’s fine being on your own at Christmas. Absolutely fine. Did somebody mention mulled wine??
Millie had her school play this week and as she’s in year two now, the usual nativity had been reserved for the younger children whilst Millie’s year of 120 pupils told the story of Father Christmas sending his toys out to the children’s houses to make sure that they would be well loved and looked after. The classes were all divided into groups of different themed toys from robots to teddies, sweet-makers to dollies and Millie’s were ice-skaters and snowflakes. Millie was a very cheerful ice-skater in her little pink bobble hat and matching scarf with a fluffy kitten jumper, and she sung her little heart out with every song and carol that came her way. Her smile was just infectious and her dad and I sat in the audience grinning from ear to ear each time that she winked over at us, waving her arms and shimmying to the beat.
Being her second public stage performance this month I think I’ll have to start stocking up on biros ready for her autograph as she’s absolutely loving it. It makes me so proud to see her with not a care in the world, singing and dancing and loving being a part of it all. She has so much confidence, so much passion and enthusiasm, I often wonder how amazing the world would be if we could have all held onto that as we progressed into adulthood. Children are inspiring, my angels light up my life and give me so much hope and understanding, I am blessed to have them. It’s times like this that make you stop and realise how amazing life is.
And on Friday Millie finished school half day after a medley of celebrations from wearing party clothes, to eating treats and even a visit from Santa at school. Millie has grown so much this past six months, she’s seen her whole world change just as much as mine and she’s taken to life as we now know it incredibly positively. She’s at an age where she is very aware of what is going on as she’s seen me go to and from hospital, through heartbreak and back out the other side of it, and she has been my little rock. She is the most amazing big sister ever, so patient and kind to Gabriele, so willing to help me and take part in everything that I do. I really could not have wished for more as a parent for what I have with my two little angels. I am so incredibly proud of them both. Regardless of whatever happens in life I know that my children will always be humble, always respectful with manners and generosity and it is a priceless trait to have in life which comes from love, attention and time; something we are all capable of providing.