Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preschool Prep

As Cael's first day of preschool looms large on the calendar, we've been working diligently to avoid certain embarrassments that may take place as he makes the transition from full-time kid to part-time "student". 

The first task was to revisit letters and numbers and try to get back to the high literary point we'd reached last spring.  Cael knew the alphabet from an early age and began reading letters with almost no effort, thanks in part to "Super Why" and it's saccharin-sweet super reading heroes.  He has expressed zero interest in putting said letters in any formation other than naughty ones, so we've continued to read to him but made an effort to push a little less.  Until we hit on the motherload: picture flashcards played poker-style with M&Ms as a delicious incentive. I know that he's incredibly smart and can get the hang of reading with little effort, so I'm going to do my part and say a little prayer as I wave goodbye to him at preschool each day. 

Please, God, let Cael learn a lot today.  Help him behave, follow directions, and please, PLEASE-- don't let him spell "stupid", "poop", or any other four-letter word.  I promise we don't have flashcards for those words.

My next order of business has been to encourage more independence for my big boy.  At almost four years old, he still requires my assistance getting dressed each morning and putting his pajamas on at night.  Given his earlier-than-six wake up time each day, I'd like him to be able to wake up and put his clothes on by himself before emerging from his lair in the morning.  The trouble is that he seems unable to tell which items of clothing are underpants.  I'm not sure where the disconnect is taking place because he can correctly identify his shirts, pants, shorts, socks and even the different components of winter gear, but every time I help him slither his tiny cheeks into a fresh pair of undies, I hear the same question.

"Mommy, are these underpants?"

After I reassure him that yes, these are indeed underpants, he will oblige and don his clean drawers.  Up come the shorts, and it is time for a clean shirt and another can of worms completely.  While he seems to have no preference whatsoever in what he wears (Thank you, God, for one battle avoided!) he does have extreme difficulty in getting his arms and shoulders into the proper position.  If left to his own devices, he will cautiously pull the shirt over his head and the resulting scene is more reminiscent of a botched Houdini stunt than a typical morning task.  Arms are shooting out of the neck hole, an elbow peeks out the bottom of the shirt and-- what's that?  Is that a foot in there?  But whether or not he is able to completely dress himself this school year, there is one very big area we need to tackle before September 7th.  And it hasn't been going well.

Cael has been 100% potty trained for about 9 months now, and I have been leaping in celebration at the drastic reduction in diaper costs as well as the freedom it allows us.  Cael's digestive system operates like clockwork; every day around nine o'clock I see him beginning to squirm, and by quarter after he runs to the bathroom.  After a moment or so, I always hear the same words.

"Mommy, I did my potty!"

Cael's intentions with this phrase are three-fold.  First, he wants to make sure I know that he fulfilled his bathroom obligations.  Second, he wants me to come in and visually confirm that he delivered the goods, which has to be one of the least pleasant parts of motherhood.  Seriously, kid... just flush it!  But his third intention, and the most troublesome, is that he wants me to take control of the clean-up efforts.

Along with the answers to "who shot JFK?" and "what's wrong with Donald Trump's hair?", I hope someday I will understand one of life's greatest conundrums.  How am I supposed to let him wipe himself when he is wholly unable to get himself clean?  I've given him countless tutorials and he knows what needs to happen, but when it come to post-potty time, he is unable to channel his inner contortionist who so recently made an appearance as he attempted to get dressed. 

So for the last couple of weeks, when this signature phrase intended to solicit my assitance, I have instructed him to clean himself up, put on his underpants (those tiny things with the Toy Story characters, you know?) and his shorts, flush the potty and wash his hands.  It is a daunting task, but one that I know will be required of him at preschool.  And it has been going relatively well.  He's emerged from the bathroom fully clothed, and upon inspection the bathroom does not appear to have been through any nautical storms or tornado strength winds.  But if there is one thing parenting has taught me, it is that things are not always as they seem.

Yesterday as Joel, Bampa and I were watching a show before heading into town, Cael was doing an unusual dance in front of the television.  His hand was digging as it sometimes does, but instead of holding himself in the front in order to avoid an incoming pee, his hand was venturing to the back.

"Cael, what are you doing?", Daddy asked.

"My bottom is scratchy."

"It sounds like you didn't get it very clean.  Why don't you go back in the bathroom and wipe yourself one more time."

"Okay, Daddy."

But as he began trotting off to the potty, a commercial on the screen involving a train caught his eye.  Shocker.  Standing trance-like in the center of the room, he resumed his scratching with both eyes on the locomotive.

"Cael... aren't you going to the bathroom?"  No response.  "Cael?"

"But Daddy, I've never seen a train like that!"

"Yes, that's cool, dude.  But you need to wipe your bottom."

"Where do you get a train like that?"

"I don't know.  At the store, I guess.  Go wipe your bottom."

"That's a really cool train."

Although he'd ventured a few feet closer to the bathroom, he was still glued to the screen.

"Cael!  Snap out of it, honey.  You need to go to the bathroom."

"Can we go to the store and buy that train?"

Since we were clearly making no headway, Bampa jumped in.

"They won't let you in the store if you have a smelly bottom.  You need to go wipe yourself."

A look of horror crossed over his face and he quickly darted to the bathroom.  Just as the door was about to close, Cael's little face peeked around the corner.

"If I wipe my bottom, THEN can we go buy that train?"

So it looks as though I might not get all three of my preschool wishes before September 7th, or at least not without some serious train-related bribery.  I may need to call Walmart and ask them to institute a "No Stinky Bottoms" clause to their "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" rule so that I don't have to shell out more cash for more trains.

Or maybe I should call Target.  Walmart could lose a lot of business that way.

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  1. Just wanted to say thanks for the foreshadowing of what I have to look forward to when Parker finally decides it's his time to actually use the big boy potty. LOL

  2. You're welcome... I think! :) Just remember that it is much preferable to pooping in one's pants!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.