So this should be my easiest post yet, given it’s been remarked that I talk plenty of shit and Joseph’s toilet habits have been discussed publicly on more than one occasion; yet I find myself pondering on how to start. I’m racking my brains of a suitable photo to add and wondering as to how far is deemed appropriate to go with this. Maybe it’s because it’s such a taboo subject and toilet humour (and the serious side of it) is something that most of us have been brought up not discussing.
Over the years my Dad has told me that my openness around toilet habits is not ladylike and rolled his eyes if I dare to mention anything turd related. Yet he still finds it acceptable to tell me how I block his toilet and barks at me to buy my own bog roll if I dare to use the toilet at his house. I have also (along with any boyfriends over the years) been told a story on no end of occasions about me as a child, sitting on a potty eating chocolate. I dropped the chocolate in the potty and I’ll let you guess what I picked out and tried to eat. The punchline my parents always tell, “The worst thing is that she was eating white chocolate!!” This was obviously before the point that it was recognised unhygienic to eat on the toilet. Either that or I was neglected in some way. It does seems that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to divulge turd stories, but the same rules don’t apply to me.
My early venture into making light of Joseph’s bowel habits caused some people to delete me or hide me from Facebook. This, I completely understand as some people will not be remotely interested in my amusing tales of floaters in the bath or logs on the carpet. Just like I am not often interested in people saying ‘Amen’ at the end of status or ‘share if you love your cat/dog/child/grandchild’. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the person or don’t want to be friends with them in real life; it simply means I am not interested in those updates. I believe that we live in a free world where we can more or less post what we want and people can either choose to read it or not, similar to this blog.
Some of the funnier moments are when Joseph has decided he has needed to use the toilet immediately. He has no understanding of what is socially acceptable and dropping his trousers in a public place has happened on more than on occasion. I recall one time, when swimming, I went to pick him up in the pool and felt a bulge around his bottom. I asked him what it was and he said quite clearly “It’s a poo!”. I immediately, ushered him out whilst checking to see whether anyone else had heard and then holding onto his bum in the fear that whatever he had just let go of ,would end up floating around in the water or on the side of the pool.
Even now, when he needs to go the whole world has to know about it. Joseph often forms a question incorrectly, as he will repeat what he has heard, so shouting at the top of his voice in the doctors waiting room “DO YOU NEED A POO?” does cause some strange looks.
When Joseph was dropping out floaters in the bath each night and I was scooping them out with a fishing net, there was something slightly amusing about it. As time wore on though, him not being toilet trained began to be a source of frustration and anxiety, yet only on my part as Joseph seemed oblivious to the upset he was causing.
The most difficult time around toileting came when Joseph started school, age 4 and a half. I’ve already spoken around my state of mind around the time he started school and it was one of the concerns I had at the time. Most children would be well and truly past nappies and pull-ups by this time, but that wasn’t the case for Joseph. Some may argue it’s lazy parenting and there is no reason for it, but there has been nothing lazy about my parenting, I can assure you.
I had read the books around when is the right time to start getting your child on the potty and taken onboard the advice. Unfortunately, Joseph had no real interest in sitting on the toilet or potty and couldn’t care less whether he had a soaked or turd filled nappy. His understanding wasn’t there either which made it a lost cause for a significant amount of time. After his diagnosis, I recall questioning on more than one occasion whether this would be it for the rest of our lives. Would he ever be toilet trained or would I be clearing up after him forever? Again, it goes back to that unknown final destination.
Due to his size, buying nappies and pull-ups caused a problem, as children of his age weren’t usually still in them. At the point it became difficult to buy them from the supermarket, we were referred to the incontinence service. I was asked a series of questions to check whether I was doing everything I should be and then was told we would qualify for some free nappies. True to form, I didn’t want any referrals to specialist services, neither did I want any freebies. I wanted my child to be using the toilet and if he was unable to do so, I just needed to go and get some off the shelf like any other parent I knew.
Sourcing nappies wasn’t as hard as sourcing pull-ups. Apparently, children with toileting needs fall into only one category; those who will always need nappies. Your choice was nappies or nappies. Eventually, I found some pull-ups via the internet, which cost about £10 for 12; considerably more than your usual brands which you could pick up easy enough for younger/smaller children.
Add into this, the fact that when your child is wearing extra padding in the bottom area, his clothes don’t fit correctly. I couldn’t get trousers that allowed for the extra room as by the point he was 4, he was in aged 6 clothes. Taking into account the nappy, I needed to buy even bigger clothes, but then they were too long. It probably seems trivial, but what should have been a simple every day task was turned into an arduous one.
When he started school, I was nervous for a whole manner of reasons but wondered how the school would cope with changing him during the day and how the other children would react to seeing him in pull-ups.
I’d gone from being keen to get him toilet trained, to relaxed in thinking it would happen when Joseph was ready and then being completely uptight about making it happen. We were relentless in our mission to get him toilet trained yet he still couldn’t give a damn.
As significant a problem it was, I can’t recall the day he stopped filling his nappy, maybe Facebook will remind me one day. There wasn’t a magic formula that I can share with you other than patience. Once the day issue was manageable, the night time needed sorting. We’re still not problem free and recently we had a spate of Joseph just peeing on the bedroom floor. I’m not sure whether he was sleep walking or whether it’s the fact he’s had it drummed into him that he shouldn’t be out of his room until the sun comes out on the sleep clock. Of course, I ask the questions but I don’t get the answers.
I recall being told that some of the problems a child with autism experiences, may be more prevalent at certain points in their lives. Let’s hope the days of scooping logs from the grass are over as I’ve faced enough embarrassing moments in my lifetime, let alone Joseph’s.
With regards to the photo, I did find one of the small perfectly formed parcels on the carpet mentioned in Spinning Plates
. But with the strong hope that Joseph might read this one day and understand our journey, I think I will on this occasion, spare his dignity.