Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spit and other things, Part 2 (or Change is Constant)

This morning, I woke to the aroma of poop.  Large quantities of it, from the smell of things.  Usually, if Jay did something 'significant' while asleep, he would come and get me as soon as he is awake.  He'll tell me 'Eww!  Wipe!'  Nothing yet, so I waited.  I didn't want to wake up just yet... The pungent aroma was urgent, though....  I got up to investigate.  Jay was still sleeping, wrapped snuggly in his comforter.  I woke him up and began to peel back the covers.  It took a fair amount of fortitude to handle the sight and smells that forced my system out of it's sleepy state.

About an hour later, everything was squeaky clean, with only faint remnants of the various smells.  My son was extremely happy, having relieved himself of the considerable load.  I have to admit that while attending to the situation, I was tempted to think How the ... am I supposed to deal with this for the next .... years??? Potty training has been a moving target for us for several years.  Jay was somewhat potty trained at 5, had a regression and potty training was one of the many things to go. He was potty trained for peeing at 9, but the downstairs bathroom stopped working and he ... well, he stopped peeing in the toilet, so here we are at 11, wondering.

My mind drifts to some of the big and small changes of the past few years....
  • I remember Jaedon deciding he had to collect bits of string, lint, sticks, fuzz and walk around with them in his hands. I used to try to take the stuff away.  Thankfully, my friend Kat asked me one day "Why are you taking his stuff?  Help him collect stuff"  And so I did, until I didn't even notice his stuff anymore.  Several months later, I noted that he wasn't collecting the stuff.  I don't know when it stopped.
  • At 2, sitting in the speech therapist's office, Jaedon looked not the least interested in the shape sorter.  He would randomly try to put pieces in, maybe just indulging our passionate requests, but the pieces chosen bore no resemblance to the shape of the opening being accessed.  One day, he just came in and put all the pieces in.  We gave him one that was more complicated and in a flash, he had all the pieces in too!
  • Jaedon was a constant buzz of sounds, but it appeared to us that there was no co-relation between sound making and communicative intent.  Then, one day, after days of teaching him the word tickle, he got it!  Maybe a year later, he got the word 'cereal' (though it sounded like 'ee-yah').  Now, he regularly uses single clear words, or not so clear 2-3 word combinations.
  • 2 months ago he was playing with spit in his mouth.  Why? Who knows? Was he increasing his muscle tone?  Was he exploring his mouth? Was he strengthening the sphincter muscles all over his body? (pursed lips and sucking motions help sphincter muscles to develop).  Whatever he was doing, he's doing it far less. I would say, almost never, except on a rare occasion.
  • 1+ year ago, Jaedon's anal sphincter muscles were going full speed, voiding small amounts of poop constantly, making attempts at wearing underwear and other potty training strategies exercises in futility.    A month ago, the overactivity stopped, and Jaedon started to have regular sized poops at almost predictable times.  I wish I knew what I did to make it happen.  I could market it!  Maybe Jaedon did it by himself....
So in answer to my  question above, I'll deal with it one moment at a time.  I'll resist projecting into the future, and embrace the treasure, the sacredness of the moment and everything Jay brings to this moment I share with him.  

One thing is for sure, change is constant.  I couldn't plot a course to where we are today, so I probably won't be able to plot a course to the next step.   I may even be surprised by what I see at that next step.  My surprise gives me the opportunity to be curious and grow.  Jaedon will do what he will do.  Let me do what I will do.  I love and I work.  I work because I love.  Isn't all loving work sacred?

My friend said she told her son that she would change poopy diapers until she didn't need to change them anymore.  So will I.  Jaedon, my love, I'm so glad you put the poop outside you body.  That is definitely the best place for it to be.  Daddy and I will help you clean up as long as you need us to, and one day, we hope you will put the poop in the toilet.  Until then, just get it all out!


  1. Faith, beautiful.

    I appreciate the reminder that since we can't actually deal with the future anyway, we might as well deal with now.

    I also love your description of the light-switch as Jaedon goes from not doing something (at all), to doing pretty much the whole thing. I'm so curious as to what that transition really is. Is it feeling accepted? Is it simply something that says, "Oh, they want me to match the shapes to the holes?" Is it, "Hmmm... I'm never gonna get out of here until I do what they're asking?"

    I'd love to hear your speculations and theories?

    Thank you! Teflon

  2. Hey Tef, who knows the various factors? I remember the shape sorter example because it was so much like magic! Almost as if he figured it out completely before showing us anything. Even now, Jay doesn't do trial and error. If he tries something, he's pretty sure he's right. People may see him do something that looks dangerous and gasp. I tell them to worry if they see the other 2 trying that, but this one has it figured out or else you wouldn't see him trying it.

    He's really visual and seems to work from the completed picture on his mind. It's a moment when the internal readiness matches the external 'rightness'. He gets to determine both those factors. I trust that we will really tune in so we can know how to really be helpful, adjusting whatever may be needed.

    There are many days when he does or says something and he looks at you. You can almost hear "satisfied?? Idiot..." since so much about what we as him to do is about us, not him.

  3. Hi Faith, I read your article this morning before I went into the playroom. We are working with the five year-old I on potty training. After reading this blog something must have shifted in my attitude. Even though I never mind him using his diaper, today every time I suggested him that he could use the potty, he would look at me, and really observe how I was delivering my proposal to him. Then after ca 30 seconds he would decide he wanted to go to the potty. This happened four times in a two hour session. I really think the "I will help you clean up as long as you need me to" makes a huge difference in attitude...

  4. Faith, I'm still naively convinced that there are always a couple of key factors that make all the difference. The cool thing is that we don't need to know ALL or even MOST of the factors, just the few that make a difference. And of course, once we recognize them, we see that they've been right there all along.

    I'm always intrigued by trying to figure out what they are, the pattern recognition process that causes them to pop.

    I love what you write. You really inspire me to think.

  5. We can never really know exactly how someone else feels; we can only project & imagine. But I believe that the "I'm here for you" message has got to be one of the most powerful/impactful messages one human being can send to another. I think it creates an environment that frees up the other person to make the changes they want to make. Maybe it lets those jigsaw puzzle pieces slide more easily into place.

  6. I think the magic happens in the optimal internal and external environments, though we may not always know what they are. I have a few attitudes that I think help the environment. One attitude is 'No-Fixing-Jaedon'. Another is 'Relax-breathe-Jaedon-doesn't-need-to-perform'. It's about giving him space, and balancing it with the passionate requests. I have been reducing the passionate requests, though. Happy, relaxed people are very helpful!

  7. Sree, Faith,
    I totally agree with you in regard to the effectiveness of a manner that is accepting, supporting, loving and easy. However, I see it more as a baseline requirement than a specific factor.

    I'm still curious about specifics. Assuming that one has adopted such an attitude and manner (I know it's a big assumption), there are some things that one might do that are more effective than others. I don't say this to dismiss the attitude and manner as I see them as fundamental. Still, I think there are patterns and opportunities that reveal themselves when we pay attention.

    We absolutely don't ever KNOW what will and what won't be most useful or how another person will respond, but I believe that we can become better guessers.

    The whole thing is a bit paradoxical. On the one hand, we want to be totally accepting; on the other, we're trying to effect change. Totally accepting and simultaneously wanting other than what is.

    Hard to figure out.

  8. Teflon: good point - that attitude is both fundamental and 'just' a baseline.

    As for the paradox, I guess what works best is when we totally accept what is in the present moment, and go wholeheartedly for what we want for the next moment. Then we arrive at that next moment, totally accept what is, and go for what we want in the *next* moment, and so on. I suppose we can't want nothing, can we? Taking a breath = wanting to live. So we might as well be fully conscious of our wants and choose 'wisely', as in, in a congruent, integrated manner.

    Hmmm. Let me chew on all that...

  9. The specific that has been really good for me (hopefully for Jay too) is my incresing knowledge of his sensory profile and what helps him regulate himself so that he doesn't have to pay as much attention to his internal stuff. My goal has been that state of optimal arousal. When he is in the zone, stuff happens. So I'm working less on the stuff and more on helping him be in the zone. He is very high arousal and so am I to a lesser extent, so I use my understanding of what helps me to guess at what might help. Today he was very edgy, crying/screaming a lot. I felt like pressure on his body would help, but he pushed me away. I saw his vibrating pillow in my mind so I went searching for it, and pressed it beside him, not touching him but sending the vibrations through the couch. After a few seconds, he was regulated enough to speak, told me what he wanted and I thanked him for letting me know with his words.

  10. Sree, Hmmm... I'm going in two directions with this. First, perhaps acceptance is a misnomer. Maybe a better word is comfort. I can be comfortable (happy, at ease) in my current situation and still not accept it. I like this model because it accommodates simultaneous experience (comfort and non-acceptance) versus moving from point of acceptance to new point of acceptance.

    Alternatively, I was thinking that perhaps what we're talking about is active, consious, contextual acceptance. I knowingly accept what I have because of my awareness of the situation, and then actively work to change the situation to get to something else. So, I can accept the noodles with MSG because I'm really hungry even though I'm actively planning to find an alternative for the next time.

    In either case, I think maybe the key is the level of comfort and ease we have with the situation whether or not we accept it.

    More to think about...


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