Potty training, gardening, and writing, oh my!

It’s been over two weeks since we decided lockdown + toddler = potty training. I know because we decided to keep a log. It’s not something I normally do, track my child’s daily excrement schedule (just kidding – we did it for a week when she was a newborn to make sure she was getting enough milk), but it’s proven mildly helpful. For instance, she has a tendency to pee first thing in the morning, so if we set her on the potty she normally produces. Win! We’ve also noticed she will need a wee about every 30-60 minutes, so we’ve been putting her on the john every fifteen. Sometimes she protests and we frog-march her to the bathroom, sometimes she happily waltzes her way in. Her poop schedule is less predictable, occurring 1-3 times a day, and we don’t think she knows when she’s got to go. The only heads up is the stench emanating from her rear after she frees a particularly juicy fart. At that point, it’s poo-roulette.

Our score in this game is not good. We’ve gotten her to go in the toilet less than 25% of the time, sometimes only once or twice a day, from dozens of sits. It’s infuriating. But the log is very helpful in one regard: it gives us hope. We can see baby steps, small wins that will add up to big wins, like the first time we thought she might be signing “toilet” and was pointing in the vague direction of the bathroom. When we set her on (underwear still blissfully dry), she immediately peed. Much praise, thumbs-upping, and smiles. Even if she proceeds to wet herself three times in the following fifteen minutes, with three accompanying wardrobe changes, we know she’s slowly getting there. It may take months of asking and cajoling and signing, and washing countless loads of underwear, but we know it won’t last forever. However, every time I hoist her onto my shoulders, it would be nice to not have to worry about pee or poo spilling down my back.

Didn’t think you’d get tales of poo and pee first thing in this blog, huh? Welcome to parenting. But let’s move on. With Daddy home, there are more fun things for the Bean to explore than just her normal toys and Mom’s boring routine. Like the toddler backpack full of loud musical instruments Dad bought the other day – Why did it come with a metal xylophone? Where was the wooden marimba? – and Dad’s fun piles of deployment clothing, ship gear, and flight boots to unpack, climb over, and try on. And let’s not get started on all the ways she’s so very helpful in the kitchen, from her sous chef skills of tasting every chopped vegetable to her ability to unload a dishwasher onto the kitchen floor one dessert fork at a time.

With the nice weather over Easter weekend, we went outside a lot. Boy, does the Bean like to help in the garden. We gave her chores, including holding the bag for dog bombs (she went a step further, selflessly grabbing some poo and handing it to me), planting seeds (about 500 carrot seeds went in one side of her pot), and digging up soil (somebody likes riding around in the wheelbarrow much more). On Easter morning, Beaner also hunted down mini-Cadbury eggs outside. I channeled childhood memories of my own Easter egg hunts as I placed goodies strategically around the back yard, though I’m woefully inept compared to my Dad the Easter Bunny, who managed to balance eggs on the chain link fence at our old house in Virginia, among other impossible places. My daughter finally discovered chocolate, after I let her eat a few mini-eggs, and now I fear she’s turned into a sugar monster. We did hide the bag in the fridge once she figured out that’s where the chocolate lives.

Lockdown continues. Britain announced another three-week stint of restrictions the other day. I understand the rationale, but my selfish side wants to be free. I miss nature, though I have it better than some with access to my back garden and spring blossoms fragrancing the air. Maybe that makes being cooped up worse. I’m desperate for day care to open back up, though, again, I’m luckier than a lot of people. My husband and I take turns caring for our toddler and are able to get a few jobs done around the house in-between. Crazy to think most of the world is going through a similar set of challenges. I think about the world’s economies and the hit they’re taking, and wonder how we’ll recover. Things have already changed.

Like a deployment, the best way I can cope is to stay busy. My toddler takes care of most of that burden, but I have also asked for telework from Germany and I’m upping my writing game. I’ve got a few things in the works: essays, blog posts, story ideas. I’m also dedicating time to writing my memoir, though it’s firmly a first draft. I’ll pretty it up later with vigorous editing. For now, I just need to spew words onto a page. Of course, writing isn’t the only way to improve one’s writing. Reading is just as important. To that end, I’ve been listening to audiobook memoirs at night. I discovered my library – though shut indefinitely for now – is more kickass than I thought: they offer free ebooks and magazines, as well as audiobooks online. I’m also making my way through the four books I checked out as one of my last stops before lockdown.

Our last big project is looking at houses we might be interested in buying in the near future. Though real estate is frozen right now, online searches and email are still up and running. So, we figure we have time now to research and query. Depressing as it is, the “three D’s” will certainly have an impact on house prices when we’re ready to buy: divorce, debt, and death. Like my dad said about the stock market, “Buy low, sell high.” I hope everyone is hanging in there.

Be patient, show love, stay strong.

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