Potty time."Kids do not poop in school (humph). That is just gross," I heard my 11-year-old stepson, Chet, advising my six-year-old, Maia.
Maia came home from school yesterday with a bellyache from withholding poop. She feels it is inappropriate to poop in school, and apparently so does her brother.
Years back, potty training went smoothly once Maia decided she was ready to soil the Dora toilet. But around the age of three, she developed terrible constipation. The doctor advised drinking gallons of water, cutting out bananas and using enemas. My poor child would become so impacted, she'd sit screaming on the toilet, eventually passing blood-streaked stool. Sometimes I'd have to help with a Vaseline covered finger. Filed away in my mind as another thing "I never imagined doing for someone until I had kids."
I started to wonder if Freud was right and my child was becoming an "anal retentive" personality, trying so hard to hold it all in. Really though, she was afraid of the pain, and so was trying to avoid pooping at all.
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This phase ended before her fourth birthday when, as Maia likes to say, she developed the ability to poop and fart whenever she wants. She's even loudly requested a magazine to help her get settled in a public restroom. I guess she learned from our extensive bathroom magazine collection.
But when she started kindergarten, Maia developed anxiety about going to school, which translated into anxiety about going to the bathroom in school, which led to bellyaches.
Last year, I broached the subject with some friends' kids we knew well. Everybody does #2 in school, sometimes, right? It's a long day from 8:30 to 3:30 p.m. When you have to go, you have to go. Most five and six-year-olds find this a hilarious topic and, as you can imagine, are quite uninhibited discussing it.
I heard a range of responses from, "Actually, I poop at school all the time. It is my favorite thing to do" (not kidding) to, "I never poop anywhere except the blue bathroom upstairs in our house (yikes, vacations must be difficult)." It helped Maia to laugh about it with friends, and I thought the issue was resolved.
Cut to first grade: Maia loves going to school and speaks freely in class (hurray!). But I feel like pooping in school is the final frontier, a show of absolute comfort in the place. I remember a women's magazine article that said pooping in a boyfriend's bathroom was a sign of your comfort level in a committed relationship. Gender must be at work here though, because I've had male first dates and even acquaintances stink up my bathroom without a second thought.
It felt like a setback that Maia was having another bout with a poop-withholding bellyache. But really it's a small speed bump. After I heard her talking with Chet, I asked Maia if she wanted to discuss it.
She said, "Mom, puhlease, it's fine. I decided since I can poop anytime I want, I'm going to choose the nighttime, like before bed. I'll let you know if I need coffee to help me or anything."
No, my child does not drink coffee, but apparently she heard me say that too. Although Maia's wanting me to butt out makes me sad when it comes to certain things, I am more than happy to see her assert her newfound independence in the pooping arena.
This post was written by Amanda Freeman.
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