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9to5to9: The perils of the potty at school

Submitted by on Friday, 25 July 2008 No Comment

We hadn’t been in the car five minutes this evening when Big Guy made a pained pronouncement: “”Mommy, I gotta go!”"

Aw dang it, I responded, more sharply than I should have. In my defense, it was the end of a long day — at least, the end of the office portion of it. Plus, he’d made the same plea roughly 15 minutes earlier, as we were leaving day care.

No matter. When you gotta go, you gotta go. I pulled off at a McDonald’s where the restrooms usually are clean, put on my Stern Mommy face and lectured. “”Guys, we’re not getting food.”"

It took 15 minutes to get back on the road. He really did have to go.

And that’s been a pattern with Big Guy this week. Every day, during our noontime kindergarten-to-day-care shuttle, he’s started moaning. “”Mommy, I gotta go!”

I didn’t think much of it — eating lunch can sometimes, well, force these issues — until I mentioned what I thought was just an odd coincidence to a teacher at day care.

Happens all the time, she said. Two other teachers’ kids refused to go to the bathroom when they started school, holding it until they got home or to day care, she told me.

No kidding — this happens to other kids and isn’t just a Big Guy quirk?

Turns out it’s real. According to a Scholastic magazine article by psychologist Adele Brodkin, children often will get so caught up in the chaos and excitement of kindergarten that they’ll forget to go. Or they’ll put it off because they’re intimidated.

Which, of course, can cause problems ranging from urinary tract infection to constipation. And I could tell from all the grunting at McDonald’s which way Big Guy was headed.

I’d forgotten that Little Guy went through a bout of the same syndrome for about six months, waiting until seconds after we got home to cut loose. With him, it was a privacy issue– he simply didn’t want an audience, and the teachers always watch the little ones when they’re in the bathroom.

He’s over that now and wants to share his output with the world. “”Mommy, look! I have much poopy!”" Anyone know how long it will be before I can quit reviewing bowel movements?

With Big Guy, the issue was the toilet itself. Can’t say I blame him. It’s only about six inches off the ground and has to be awkward, even when you’re less than three and a half feet tall.

So I talked to him this evening about the importance of using the bathroom when he needs to, even if the potty is funny.

We’ll see how it goes.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Laura Scarborough said:

    just stopping by and saying hello to a neighbor (here in the central valley and back home in western PA and WVa). genevieve hinson sent me here.
    my little man has similar issues with potty at school or any other public place for that matter.

  • Debra (author) said:

    “Nice to meet you, Laura! Central Valley AND W.Va. — small world!

    Big Guy got me again yesterday at noon, going from day care to school. At first I thought he was trying to scam Mickey D’s food, but he wasn’t crying wolf!

    I fear now this is going to be a long-running show. A friend was telling me yesterday about an adult co-worker who STILL won’t go in public restrooms. ((Sigh))”