I’ve hesitated to write this post. I suggest you don’t read it if you’re eating or about to eat because I will be talking about bodily functions. Unfortunately, this is where I am this week, in fact for the last few months.
When the grands came to us, our grandson was not fully potty trained. He was four. He knew how to use the bathroom, but his parents had not helped him practice going regularly. I guess they didn’t have time to worry about it but had time to clean him up afterward. Like that makes any sense.
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; Galations 6:8a
When a child isn’t properly potty trained at the right age, they experience problems down the road. The muscles that control bowel movements lose their ability to sense the need to go. What happens? The child doesn’t go. They don’t know they have to go. Then they become constipated. Then the body tries to get rid of it. This means leakage. This means accidents.
We didn’t immediately understand this. We knew our grandson wouldn’t go but within a few months managed to get him settled on a schedule. Then we hit K-5. He did ok the majority of the school year, but eventually the leakage started. When he first came to live with us, we always carried spare clothes. I started doing that again. I warned teachers about the problem and asked them to try and notice any signs or odors.
That summer he had a day when it flooded out of him. He was attending a summer day camp, and I had discussed his problem with them. When I picked him up, the poor little guy had it running down his legs. He stank. His pants were full. Flies were swarming him. I smelled him from a good twenty feet away. In fact, before I could see him, I asked about the smell. The camp counselor said it must be something in the air because she’d been smelling it for hours. THEY MISSED IT! I was livid. I wanted to cry for him.
Needless to say, I pulled him out that day and filed a complaint.
When I filed the complaint, the director asked me, “Why didn’t he tell us?” A valid question, but I felt like he was trying to shift the blame. My response was, “How did they miss this?”
I’ve learned a lot about the ramifications of not training a child to use the potty at the correct age. If you don’t take the time when they’re young, you’ll spend a large part of their childhood dealing with it.
We go through periods when everything is fine, but the older he gets, the harder it is to know if he’s gone or not. He’ll say he did, but he lies about it. If he hasn’t, the problem starts up again.
Let’s face it, the last thing a seven-year-old boy wants to do is sit on the toilet for ten minutes a few times a day. Which is what he has to do if he’s having troubles.
The body can relearn how to handle this. I learned that this week from a psychologist who works with our gastroenterologist. To learn after three years of frustration that we can retrain the muscles is such a relief! I have hope thanks to this tiny bit of information. I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out. Even, the Psalmist knew:
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalms 139: 14
We are wonderfully made. God doesn’t make junk. Our bodies are amazing, but children need to be taught the basics of living. Parents need to take the time to help them learn. That’s really the reason for this post. Please train your child to use the potty.
And for those of you who work with children daily, I’m guessing you see this more than most people realize. You can be a big factor in helping these children and their families. Advise them to see a specialist. Be kind and compassionate. Let them know they’re not alone. Don’t let your disgust show. That’s what these children fear the most.
We’re still dealing with this problem, but the psychologist has given me more practical advice than anybody in the last three years.
I, actually, have hope that he can live a life without humiliation and embarrassment.