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Started: 2010-06-15 07:49:32

Submitted: 2010-06-15 08:42:48

Visibility: World-readable

Faced with the prospect of fighting with Calvin every time she tries to change his diaper, Kiesa decided to try to potty-train Calvin last weekend. (We think we may be raising a little fascist; he doesn't like (diaper) change, and he goose-steps up the stairs.) Her original plan was to hang out on the porch, but when the forecast showed cold and rain, we fell back inside. At first the strategy was to put him in training pants and watch him, but we had trouble identifying when he was about to go, so we left him bare from the waist down, to provide a better view of his excretory activities, which let Calvin wet my pants and the floor but did not produce any positive potty experiences. (I brought up our new steam-cleaner for the carpet for spot-cleaning.) We put Calvin's training pants back on and tried to convince him to use the potty. We eventually conceded that he didn't really seem to know what he was doing; he couldn't make the connection between being wet and being uncomfortable, and didn't seem interested in sitting on the potty chair.

Calvin sports training pants while playing with daddy's camera bag
Calvin sports training pants while playing with daddy's camera bag

My major contribution to the effort was observing that, since Calvin likes sitting up on grown-up chairs, he might get more out of his potty chair if it were perched on top of a chair to give him a better view. He does seem to appreciate the view, but requires careful supervision to make sure he doesn't fall. (I run a simulated Gen-X parent in a VM inside my mind, just in case he has any insights I missed, and he was horrified at the idea of putting Calvin in a position where he could fall and hurt himself.)

Our new plan is to keep Calvin in training pants when it's handy, and put him on the potty chair at various intervals, and hope something sticks. The current trend in potty-training veers to infant "elimination communication" and then to potty-training two-and-three-year-olds in the hopes that they'll understand what's going on. Neither of these extremes seemed like a good idea; Kiesa thought it'd be better to start training Calvin before he learned the concept "no", which is supposed to come online sometime around his second birthday.

Calvin seemed undisturbed by his parents' attempt at teaching him useful new self-help skills. He spent much of Saturday morning running back and forth between Kiesa and me, and especially enjoyed sitting up on the couch, bouncing on the cushions, and handing me books to read. He uses his "more" sign (index finger into palm of opposite hand) to mean "want", though it's not always clear what it is he wants. (We didn't have the energy to teach him baby sign language, but daycare did, so I have to crank up the gain on my Gen-X parent VM to figure out what Calvin is trying to say.) He likes watching the ceiling fan spin, which is nearly as hypnotic as the videos of children singing religious songs Kiesa played for him in an attempt to keep him sitting in his potty chair. He enjoys being read to again, after several months in which he was more interested in playing with (and chewing on) the board books than in being read to. He's discovered that both of his parents will drop everything to read to him when he brings us a book and uses this to his advantage.

Aside from making more work for ourselves by trying to potty-train Calvin, he seems to be getting easier to take care of. He can generally occupy himself for long periods of time, and is working on his fine motor skills by stacking blocks and Duplos. (I built a Duplo model of the Citigroup Center and discovered that Calvin is a category five hurricane with 45-degree quartering winds.) He enjoys going outside and playing in his sandbox (a small plastic tub into which we poured an extra bag of paving sand) and pouring sand and water all over the porch. He toddles enthusiastically on flat surfaces, and can often navigate rough ground on his own, but needs my help to climb or descend stairs. He has a particular way of turning his body and raising his hand to grab my finger for support, and when he wants to turn he'll twist his body, dragging my fingers in the direction he wants to go. He does this less than he used to, now that he can toddle on his own, but still enjoys grabbing my fingers for support.

I spent most of the month of May depressed by the crushing weight of the unrelenting responsibilities of parenting, trying to figure out how I was going to enjoy my summer, especially all the snow-climbing opportunities afforded by the intersection between spring and summer. We eventually came up with a framework that would let me go hiking or climbing one day a weekend, and give Kiesa some time off, by hiring a babysitter on Sunday morning. Our default babysitter's real job gives her an irregular schedule, and we don't pay nearly enough for her to prefer us over them (even when we pay her to come over and watch television waiting for Calvin to wake up from his nap), so Kiesa sought out other babysitters on care.com and came up with several interesting candidates. One came over Sunday morning for an interview, and we're interviewing another tonight, so we think we ought to find someone to give us a little extra time. (Kiesa got mired down by trying to figure out nanny taxes, which gives me more sympathy for our treasury secretary's inability to figure it out. We won't have to pay payroll taxes on our household employees this tax year, but we will next year. My best hypothesis is that nanny taxes are specifically designed to keep modestly affluent people like us from getting delusions of grandeur beyond our tax bracket.)