The other evening my daughter did one of those things that you hear about at adoption preparation courses. To tell the tale properly though I need to start with another story....
Pip has been teething. Teething brings crying and explosive nappies. So explosive on two occasions that the clean up was one of those "where do I start?" moments. The first one ended up all over me and the second one is the origin of this particular story.
Katie and I were in the kitchen and Pip was jumping up and down gleefully in his bouncing chair (one of those ones that looks like a walker but isn't). We both sniffed the air and said "ooh Pip's done a poo". Normally Pip gets upset when his nappy is dirty so I was surprised at the current bouncing and squealing with delight that was coming from the bouncer. Then Katie said "Mummy, there's poo coming out of Pip's bum".
We then quickly realised that not only was the poo dripping out of Pip's bottom, it had squished underfoot on the mat attached to the bouncer and Pip was slipping and sliding with unbridled abandon.
Errrrrrrr! Where to start?
I calmly got a towel to hold Pip and took him upstairs to hose him down in the bath and clean him up before sorting out the chair. Katie was fascinated, particularly as she'd missed me covered in poo the previous day.
Fast forward 10 days. It was Katie's bedtime and she was supposed to be in bed (the supposed to be is a whole different blog post). Daddy and I were enjoying our dinner downstairs whilst watching Rock of Ages. I heard Katie moving around upstairs and went up to check on her. She was on the toilet and she greeted me with:
"Mummy, I accidentally did a wee and poo on the floor but I didn't want to bother you so I've cleared it up". I was slightly puzzled because generally Katie finds it too much of an effort to even flush the chain but I congratulated her and wiped the floor where she indicated with some antibacterial wipes and returned downstairs because she now likes to sort all her toileting out herself.
I settled back to my dinner and film until I heard continuous thumping for upstairs. I went upstairs to investigate (I'm sure you know where this is going by now). On arrival in the bathroom I was greeted with an enormous amount of poo on the bathroom floor and Katie jumping up and down in it with a big smile on her face.
There wasn't a big smile on mine.
One wasn't amused.
My response wasn't as calm as the one for Pip. "What on earth do you think you are doing?" I asked her. "That is disgusting behaviour". Im pretty sure I said that at least 5 times. I called for Daddy to being up a mop and bucket (not letting the steamer near that). I dumped Katie in the bath and made her clean herself up and I got the wipes out, again, and cleared the floor of all debris and then mopped it. Katie was made very clear that trouble was in the air and we would discuss it in the morning but there would be no parties the following day.
As I was saying this the penny dropped. Pip got attention for pooing everywhere. Was Katie looking for attention? Did she feel that the only was to achieve this was to recreate an event that gained Pip lots of attention?
What to do? Time to go against my instincts to punish the behaviour and think.
The following morning I told her that we had decided that there would be no consequence for this event but I asked her to promise that I would never happen again. She soberly promised. Then without fanfare, a little while later, I said that we would need to do a few things after dancing and could spend some time together. So after dancing (and a visit to the bank) we went to the library and signed up for a reading challenge; we bought a huge balloon; we had a cake and juice at our local Waitrose. After lunch we went to a party together and just hung out together. Daddy looked after Pip for the day. Katie was a dream child all day. We had fun and enjoyed each others company.
I have been much more mindful of how Katie is feeling this week. I've been trying harder to find pockets of time for her. We've had a much better week as a result. She seems calmer. It's not been easy to invest that additional energy and also be mindful of it not being about gifts (which Katie tries hard to get) but spending actual time together. Her behaviour has improved. We're not talking perfect here but significantly improved and much calmer. As a result, I'm calmer. I also want to spend more time with her because she is more fun.
A week ago I wasn't enjoying spending time with my daughter very much because it was just one battle after another. I felt low and frustrated. This week is a different story.
So this was a stinky story but I will just say there is a lot to say for Positive Poo.... and maybe some positive parenting.
Just as long as it doesn't happen again.