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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The toddling time bomb

My 22-month-old doesn't want to wear a diaper anymore. Trouble is, she doesn't want to wear underwear either.

Nope, just naked is fine with her.

The problem is she is doing her business all over the house because she is not interested in using the potty.

It all started when she started watching my 4-year-old use the potty. She wanted to try, too, so she easily took her pants down, whipped that diaper off and sat down on the little potty I bought her.

But to her, it's only an activity, like coloring or playing with cars.

"POTTY POTTY!" she yells if I dare come toward her with a diaper.

She runs back to the potty and sits down. She thinks if she tries to use the potty, I won't mind if she is naked.

That's true.

Only she doesn't use the potty. She bends down and tries to watch for something to happen, but it never does.

So she gets up and runs around naked. And she is so happy and delighted with herself for doing so.

A few times she ventures onto the back patio and then comes running back inside saying "PEE PEE PEE!" She leads me back out and shows me that, yes, she did pee on the patio.

Ugh.

I hose down the patio and shoot the water at her, too.

A few days later, she is naked again, but now she pees on the kitchen chair. Never mind that the potty was just a few feet away. It's more fun to pee on the chair!

The good news is she didn't hit the carpet.

Now the game is trying to figure out how to keep the diaper on her. I try to put pants on her that she can't pull down, but that doesn't work. She is Houdini. She can get out of anything.

What about duct tape? Would that be wrong?

Next she poops on the carpet. What is wrong with this kid?

I try again to work with her on using the potty, but she is not interested. The wires are not connecting yet.

She is more interested in watching me use foamy carpet cleaner to clean up her mess.

I actually think I would rather go back to the days when she was messing her diapers all day long as a newborn. At least it was all contained in a diaper.

I try reasoning with her, but at 22 months, I'm not sure she is getting it.

"See, if you don't wear a diaper you have to use the POTTY! If you don't use the potty, you have to wear a diaper!"

I get a blank stare.

The weekend comes and so does more backward bathroom habits.

I'm in the kitchen when I hear the familiar rip of the plastic tab. Yep. The diaper is off again and she is running free.

I chase her with a diaper. She pees on the kitchen floor.

I wrestle her to the floor and finally get a diaper back on her.

A few hours later, my 4-year-old comes running to tell me that the baby still has her diaper on, but something is coming out of it.

I'm going to try to leave out the messiest details, but let's just say it was disgusting. Really, really disgusting.

I think the medicine my baby had been on upset her stomach.

So, yes, she still has the diaper on, but the mess is now on my bedroom carpet.

I start cleaning it up when I think to check her hiding place in the closet.

Sure enough there is more ... mess. But the worst is it's on the closet wall. I quickly recreate the scene in my head and see her putting her back up against the wall, then sliding down into her spot.

You get the picture.

Not good.

I need help. My carpet and sanity can't take much more of this.

Where is that duct tape?

* Angie Wagner writes a weekly column on parenting for Pilot readers.