Sometimes kids pee in their car seats. Sometimes kids who are fully potty-trained encounter the terrifying automatic flushers at Target and are scarred so deeply by them that they refuse to pee anywhere but in the safety of the bathroom at home. (Who can blame them?) And therefore, sometimes kids pee in their car seats because they just. can’t. hold. it. any. longer.
My oldest was fully potty trained. We absorbed all of the advice out there and went about potty training her in the way that worked best for her bright, independent personality. We waited for her to show signs of interest in using the potty instead of her diapers, and then encouraged her in her curiosity until she fully decided on her own (with our assistance) that using the potty was something she was ready to and willing to do. She was two and a half at the time.
Fast-forward 6 months. We are out at Target and the urge comes over her. We quickly find the Target bathroom and I help her hoist her little self up onto the giant potty after applying the paper germ-barrier, and before she can finish her business *FLUSH* the automatic flusher goes off and scares the bajingles out of her! As an adult it always freaked me out when an automatic flusher flushes mid-way giving your hiney an awkward little bath, so I can only imagine the terror it would inflict on a child who not only wasn’t expecting that to happen to her, but has never before encountered a toilet that acted on its own volition – flushing at will. I’m pretty certain this is the very thing nightmares are made of.
So, I can’t blame her. I can’t blame her for being afraid of using the toilet outside of the safe, not-flushing-until-you-tell-it-to potty in her very own bathroom. At home.
And I can’t very well discipline fear out of her, spanking her for peeing in her car seat when she didn’t do it on purpose – in obstinate defiance of a command not to. It was an accident.
But now what? How do we get past this?
I don’t fully know the answer, but I can imagine that it involves a lot of patience and grace and mercy in the coming weeks and months. And a lot of learning on my part as the parent to be the image of Christ to her – to show her mercy in her growing as she navigates something that causes her fear and learns again to trust me when I tell her she doesn’t have to be afraid. This, of course, will all come about through practice. Through experiencing bathrooms other than the “safe” one at home as well as other circumstances that lead her into continuing to trust my word as her mother – someone who loves her and wants the best for her.
The most aggravating bit of all this is that I don’t get to determine the timeline for her. Even though it infuriates me to have a pee-filled car seat again, I don’t want to decide that my frustration over her having accidents is bigger than her fear and needing time and space to learn to trust again.
So, pray with me as I learn to be patient with her. To image Christ to her and continually seek wisdom in how to guide her, because I’m certain that once we overcome this hurdle there will be something new that comes about where she’ll need me to be full of grace and mercy towards her when it would be easier to be “scary mommy” instead.
And I’m finding comfort in knowing that this is a process and fortunately I have Jesus as the ultimate source of grace and mercy coursing through me – I’m not parenting alone.
My gift to you: Free Printable to color your cares away.