Tom and I were both up in the middle of the night with Audrey. She was running a fever and couldn't get comfortable. This means we are all pretty tired today. Of course, the night before last we were up with Sean in the middle of the night. He awoke screaming from his room. When I went in there, he refused to let me help him with anything saying he wanted Dad. Typical. Tom took over, and I went back to bed livid. When Tom returned 10 minutes later, I asked if everything was okay. I assumed Sean had had a bad dream.
Tom: His covers were off and he needed help getting them back on. It was a four alarm fire.
Let the record show that I've had two nights of broken sleep and crying children. Proceed.
This morning I was reminding Sean that we needed to make another thank you note for people who had given him birthday presents. I also told him that we needed to take some pictures of him and Audrey holding Happy Birthday signs so we could email them to Grandpa whose birthday is this coming Sunday.
me: Because Grandpa and GG are in Italy, so we need to send the pictures so they can see us wishing him a Happy Birthday.
Sean: Why are they in Italy?
me: Because they are on an adventure. I hope you get to go on an adventure like that someday. Maybe in Italy, wouldn't that be fun?
Sean: No, I don't want to go on an adventure there.
me: Fine, Sean. Don't.
Sean: Well... There's always a first time for everything.
This is a line from a Berenstain Bears book he just got as a present. I'm glad to see he's using the phrase accurately. Little did I know that this phrase would symbolize a turning point in my day.
We had a pretty good morning. We went to storytime at the Red Balloon bookshop in St. Paul. Every Thursday is Toddler storytime at 10:30am. Though we're not there every Thursday, it's a frequent stop for us. The atmosphere is great - a locally run, independent book seller. The woman who does the storytime is stellar: she keeps the kids attention for 30 minutes, and both Sean and Audrey love it. There's singing, dancing, puppets, books; I'm not sure whether I have more fun or the kids do. After storytime, we headed to the pharmacy and grocery store. Because Audrey was still running a fever, I put her in the stroller in the hopes she would sleep through the errand running. Not so much. She was awake and paying attention the whole time. If she had long term memory, I'm sure she would retain this one for the books.
Walking to Walgreens, a man getting out of his car looked directly at us. I was pushing the stroller with two bags hanging from my arm. Sean was walking with one hand on the stroller and we were talking about the need to look both ways before walking into the parking lot. The man had a smile on his face, but for once, it was not Audrey getting the smile.
man: He has a new way of wearing his sunglasses.
Sean looked up. He looked at the man. He kept walking.
me: Yes, he does. He insists upon wearing them that way.
Sean wears his sunglasses upside down. If someone asks if it's more comfortable, he says yes. If someone asks if he knows that his sunglasses are upside down, he says yes. If someone asks if he wants to turn them right-side up, he says no. Go figure. He's starting a new fashion trend.
While in Walgreens, I could see Sean starting to do a little dance. The side-step, legs together, side-step, legs together dance. You probably know this dance yourself when you've held in your urine for too long. I can recognize it well now from Sean.
me: Sean do you need to go potty?
me: Are you sure?
Sean: No. (He thinks he means "yes" but he says "no." I've not tackled the intricacies of why the answer to this question is incorrect. I've tried telling him that he really wants to answer "yes" but he thinks it's some kind of trap. As in, if he says "yes" in response to the "are you sure?" then I've trapped him into having to go potty. He must believe that by saying "no" to this question, he's firming up the fact that he does NOT need to go potty. When in fact he's highlighting for me that he really is not sure of when he has to go. Or he's avoiding it. I just keep asking the question of him to amuse myself. It's the little things.)
I began to lay the groundwork for getting him to go potty at our next stop.
me: Sean, when we get to Byerly's, we are going to the restroom before we shop for food. Okay?
Nothing. It's as if the sunglasses block out the possibility of hearing me clearly.
me: Sean - we will go to the restroom at Byerly's before doing anything else. Do you understand?
And I have it! The confirmation! The agreement! At least if there's a struggle I have something to fall back on. How foolish I am.
Upon entering Byerly's we went directly back to the restroom and wheeled the stroller into the largest stall. (I will side-step a tangent about how I feel guilty for taking the wheelchair accessible stall with the kids.) We get into the stall, Sean helps to lock the door, Audrey is quietly watching, and then I make a wrong move.
me: Okay, Sean, are you ready to go potty?
Clearly not ready.
me: (already pulling down his pants and getting ready to place him on the toilet) Well, Sean we already talked about this (see exchange above - my confirmation! I already have it! Ha ha!), and you said okay.
Sean: (bucking his pelvis so as to avoid sitting on the seat) No! NO! I don't want to go potty! NO! I don't need to go potty.
me: (trying to remain calm) Sean, I would at least like you to try. Please just empty your bladder and then we can go shop for food.
Sean has both hands on the seat, but he continues bucking his pelvis away from the toilet.
me: (pulling out my final ace in the whole) If you sit and go potty then we can go look for a treat in the grocery store.
He stops for one millisecond. I should have seen this flash across his face. He wanted the treat. He knew what he had to do to get it. But he didn't want to give up his fight. So while thinking, "yes, I will go potty for a treat" he continued using his body to say, "Not on your life, lady!"
Then he peed on me. And the floor. And his pants. I'm going to say that again. Then he PEED on me. HE PEED ON ME. Not only did he pee, but he peed on me in the exact location that would later look to the outside world like I peed on myself. I had a wet spot...of PEE...ON MY CROTCH. Brilliant!
me: UGH - SEAN! No!
I pushed his penis down between his legs (something that parents potty training young boys must know well.), and he continued peeing into the toilet. His face spelled relief. Clearly he needed to let that go. His face also had a hint of guilt in it. He could tell I was angry. Livid even. Sean looked down at the droplets of pee on the ground.
Sean: How are we going to clean that up, Mama?
I was speechless. I couldn't say anything, because what I wanted to say was Well, Sean, I am going to clean it up. Me. Your MOTHER. I am going to wipe your pee off the dirty bathroom floor, because God knows if I have you do it, I'll feel terrible, and I'll dream that there are security cameras in here, and then they'll haul me away for child labor/abuse laws that I'm SURE exist somewhere, which state that no child is allowed to wipe up his own pee off this dirty God Forsaken floor. This speech would be followed by a full body shake and fist pumping, hand waving, maniacal wiggle directed at God, the Universe, my son, and Audrey, just for any future wrongdoings she has planned.
Instead I said nothing. I was so angry. And I had PEE in my CROTCH that was not my OWN.
I was finally able to muster a couple choice words.
me: (through clenched teeth and trying to stay quiet) I am very frustrated with you. Do you know why?
There are people coming in and out of the stalls around us, flushing toilets, washing hands. Though we are behind stall doors, I feel like we are on full display.
Sean: (whining) Yeeeesss. (?)
Is he asking a question?
Sean: (quiet, almost whining) Because I peed.
me: It's not that you peed, Sean. Because if you had peed in the toilet, we would be all good. It's that you were refusing to pee, and then you decided to start peeing without sitting down or pointing your penis down. And because of that ... (gesturing all around: the floor, me, his own pants) you peed everywhere.
I had to keep telling myself to breathe. I could feel the anger rising as the wetness around my crotch sunk in. I had packed the diaper bag with changes of clothes for both kids, but I had not ever thought to pack of change of clothes for me. I AM THE MOM. I'm not supposed to end up with WET PANTS! DO YOU HEAR ME, GOD?! (More fist shaking would happen here.)
Audrey remained quiet. She was just taking it all in. That or her fever had the better of her and she was just so sleepy. Then, as I wiped the floor with toilet paper and helped Sean get his pants back on, he had the audacity to remind me of a promise from earlier.
Sean: Can I have a treat now?
I have nothing to say. I was still fuming. I could still sense all the people in the bathroom, imagining they were hanging on every word being said as this drama unfolded. Of course, I don't think any person was in there long enough to know the full story, but that's the way I felt. Still through clenched teeth, I grabbed our bags and pushed Audrey's stroller towards the sink. I didn't have a response. Yes, he had used the potty, so technically he should get the promised treat. HOWEVER, he had also peed on me, and I was utterly offended. In my mind, he would get NOTHING. I would later allow him to get a granola bar: not quite a treat, and not quite a stalk of celery, but something to keep him quiet while I picked up a few necessities. I could not imagine any more tantrums with Sean while we walked around the grocery store. Mainly because I did not want people looking at us. Why? Because they would see a beautiful young family... arguing. As they would look closer they would see a toddler, a young sickly-looking baby girl, and a 30-something mom. And upon closer inspection they might see that the mom's pants were wet. There's a first time for everything.