Friday, March 09, 2012


Ever have one of those days where you just can't believe this stuff is happening to you?

Today is one of those days.

The preschool with the six kids per class called: There's a spot for Ella. The last spot in the class. School starts Sept. 6, 2012. Class is 2 hours and 45 minutes in the morning twice a week. She'll be with other two-year-olds and a teacher who has been a credentialed preschool teacher forever. It's the least expensive of all the preschools, by far.

So that's done.

Then, I called our property manager to ask about renewing our lease on the house. He asked me for how long. I didn't think they'd let us do more than a year, so I told him I'd have to call my husband. "We'd like to stay here forever, but that's--"

"You'll want to buy!" He owns the real estate company.

"Well, yeah. But that's not going to happen for a long time."

I called Justin and we decided to ask for three years. There's no way we'll be buying a house before that, and she'll be starting Kindergarten then--that was my logic.

"Oh, I don't think they'll go for that long," the real estate guy said. Seriously? Why ask me how long if he already knows the answer? I had already told him at least a year.

"Well... Obviously, we'll go for less, too. But--"

"I'll call them tomorrow and ask."

"Yeah. That would be great. Let us know. Thanks."

Then, I went about my business with Ella. We had already done our dinner/Jon Stewart/International Women's Day inspirational video routine (She really does laugh and clap along with the audience! And with the Women's Day video she was all out dancing.), and were settled onto the couch reading books. She read a couple while I folded laundry, and then I joined her on the couch and read with her. We'd finish a book, she'd say, "More?", crawl off my lap, go to her bookshelf and get another book, climb back onto my lap, and we'd read more.

Finally, I told her, "OK. One more book, and then we're going night-nights."

She went to her bookshelf and chose You Can Go to the Potty and Pacifiers Are Not Forever. As she carried them back to me, I said, "You like your big girl books, don't you?" She'd already brought those to me to read earlier in the day, and yesterday, too. I'm pretty sure she has more than 30 books, and she dug through her stacks to get the ones she wanted, so she really is making this choice.

We read them both (because which mom doesn't want to read a book about potty training and a book about giving up the pacifier right before bedtime?). Sweet dreams!

As we got to the part in the potty training book about noticing that pee-pee or poo-poo are ready to come out and then telling Mommy or Daddy so that they could take you to the potty, she started to climb down from my lap.

"Are you all done reading?"

She took my hand. 

OK. Where are we going? I went along with her down the hallway. Seriously? Is she really taking me to the potty? At the bathroom door, she turned, went in, and lifted the lid of the baby potty.

"Do you have to go pee-pee or poo-poo?" I asked, ever so slightly incredulously. She started pulling her pants down. I could already smell urine, so I offered, "You don't have to go pee-pee in the potty right now. You already have pee-pee in your diaper." I wasn't quite sure what to do. I didn't want to discourage her, but I was almost afraid to encourage her. It just didn't seem real.

She started to sit.

"OK. You can sit on the potty. Let's take your diaper off, first." She's sat on the potty lots of times, but always fully clothed--usually when I am going potty.

She stood up and started pulling at her diaper tabs.

"Let Mommy help you!" I got the wet diaper off and she sat down on the potty. I couldn't believe it. My baby girl was sitting on the potty. I knelt in front of her. "Do you have to go pee-pee in the potty?"

 She sat for a while, as I went through the dialogue of the book without the book. "It's OK if nothing comes out. Sometimes that happens. But we can sit and wait." She looked so proud of herself, so smiley and content to wait. After a while, I asked her if she was all done and if I could put her diaper back on her, telling her it was OK that nothing came out.

Replacing a wet diaper is an art I am not at all versed in. So, despite her desire to return to the book and the couch, I needed to change her into her pajamas before that diaper leaked.

 I gave her a pair of pajamas from the folded laundry and told her we'd go get ready for night-nights. She happily toddled it to her room--right now her walk is something of a high-stepping patter. Lately, instead of just going to the dresser/changing table and waiting for me to lift her up and change her, she has been playing a little game of chase with me. I can't decide if it's cute or annoying, probably just the right combination of both, unless I'm in a rush. I ended up chasing this loosely-fit-diapered child all the way back to the dining room and carrying her to the changing table.

When we got back out to the living room, it was still a bit earlier than bedtime, so I told her we could read a couple of more books and then we'd brush teeth and read Goodnight Moon.

She wanted to read the potty book, again.

She wanted to sit on the potty, again.

Not being one to discourage the possibility that potty-training is taking hold of my daughter (and my household) before I am ready, I went ahead and took off her one-piece, fully covering, zipped-up, footy pajamas and lifted her onto the potty. (I was trying to avoid taking her feet out of the jammies, so I had to help her even onto the baby potty. When she sat, she took her feet out herself.) We went through the whole routine again, though this time I asked her if she wanted to finish reading the potty book. I told her, "Stay seated. Stay there, and I'll go get the book." Of course, I grabbed my cell phone, too, so that I could take a picture of her sitting on the potty for Justin. This time, her diaper was dry and much easier to replace.

Back on the couch, we looked at the pictures (they weren't very good--she was looking away in two of them, and in one she is doing that fake-squinty-eyed-teeth-baring smile that toddlers give when they know their photo is being taken). Then, she wanted to resume the potty book. We were only a few pages in when she got off my lap again and headed to the bathroom. I sat waiting, a little tired of the game and hoping that it wasn't going to turn into just that: a game. Is it supposed to be a game? What am I supposed to do in this situation?

I got up to see what she was up to. "Do you have to go pee-pee in the potty? You don't have to. You just went pee-pee in your diaper!" I told her this in my calm-reassuring-mommy voice, just so she would know it was all OK. She stood there looking at me and then started to unzip her pajamas. I helped her, promising myself this would be the last time today.

She sat, smiling at me. "Do you want to finish reading the book?" I asked. She nodded yes, so once again I told her to stay seated and I would go get it. On my way back, I turned on the video camera of my cell phone. I figured since the still photos didn't work out and since Justin was missing the routine (comic... and, since it was the third time in about 30 minutes, it kind of was a routine), I would tape it for him.

The video starts with her squinty smile and then the top of her head as she peers between her legs. "Did you go pee-pee in the toilet just now?" I ask. You can hear in my voice that I'm trying to remain calm, though I am totally surprised and excited. "Are you going poo-poo in the potty?"

She looks up at me and smiles again, "Poo ooo."

 "You are, aren't you?" She looks down again, and we listen quietly to the tiniest tinkle off pee-pee in the potty. My soft voice of awe comes out, "She's doing it." Tinkle tinkle. "Wow, Ella! That's such a good job!" I switch to a whisper. "Oh my God. She wanted to do this." I narrate.

Then she tries to fold herself over more, so that she can see what's going on, but she almost falls forward onto her head. "OK. Keep your tushy on the hole, Ella." Then, she reaches down with her hand and the camera goes all wobbly while I tell her, "No, no touching. Don't put your hand in there. You just stay seated!" and get some toilet paper to wipe her with.

So now I have a 17-minute video of Ella's first pee-pee-in-the-potty experience. (She says, "Help, please!" and I rest the camera on the counter so Justin can hear more of the story. She keeps wanting to sit on the potty, and there's lots of encouragement and congratulations, and cleaning and changing, and flushing and hand washing--she has an amazing attention span for a 21-month-old, so it really is that long. I end up taking her diaper off again because she keeps wanting to sit down again... it's a process.)

The video is actually decent once I put the camera down; you can only see her from the belly up and hear our voices. She dances and sings and gets up and sits down, we read the package instructions on the wipes that came with the potty, she giggles and I giggle, we figure out how to put the deodorant cake in the potty lid, we talk and negotiate, and eventually we get the pajamas back on.

No, I'm not going to post the video.

So, Justin missed it. It reminds me of the day I took the pregnancy test that told me I was pregnant with Ella. Justin was a resident working a day shift in the pediatric unit. Sometime in the day it occurred to me that my period was late, and despite having given up on our five-year quest for pregnancy, I had one remaining pregnancy test in the cabinet.

I knew they were best taken in the morning, but I couldn't wait. So I did it, and then I was stuck alone with the news. Obviously, I wanted him to be the first to know and I wanted to tell him in person, but he doesn't have the kind of job where I can just pop in, close the office door, tell him, celebrate and leave. I almost ran down the street (and it would have been a run--I was so pumped!) to tell my friend whose husband was one of Justin's residency classmates, but I didn't. Meanwhile his day shift drifted into a late night. Several hours late. When he walked through the front door of our apartment he looked totally spent, hung his head and said it had been the worst shift of his life.

So I waited. I wanted for him to shower and tell me about his day. Then I told him, and he seemed so confused. It was adorable and sweet and funny. He still looks back on it as the worst day of his residency (imagine seeing really sick kids and hearing really stressed families and giving really bad news), but at least we'll never forget it.

And now, there's the pee-pee in the potty day. We went to the store together with Ella to buy the potty. I asked if it was OK with him if I went to the bookstore alone with Ella for the books, or if he wanted to come. It's one thing to miss buying the book; it's another thing to miss seeing that it worked. I hope he's not too sad about it. We're so lucky that he works so hard so that at least I can be with her for these milestones. I'm so lucky.

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