The Power of the GIANT Chocolate Button

It’s been 3 months and the weeing on the floor hasn’t stopped. Neither has the occasional poo-poo on the carpet (why is it always on the carpet that they poo?? There’s a perfectly nice, wipe-cleanable wooden floor just over there!) We started off all eager and organised. Wall charts and coloured stickers for wee-wees, butterfly stickers for a poo-poo. But then they didn’t seem that bothered by the stickers and it cost me more energy trying to get them interested in the stickers than they were worth: they weren’t stopping them weeing themselves anyway.

GIANT chocolate buttons

GIANT chocolate buttons

So we gave up on the stickers and just carried on with the positive encouragement. Well, most of the time. When your child jubilantly announces at the top of her voice “Wee wee!!” as she spreads her legs and sprays her wares everywhere and then gaily shouts out “Never mind!” when she’s done you start questioning whether you should at least show some sign of annoyance. The other day small girlie one came bounding into the garden excitedly announcing that she had done a poo-poo in the potty. What she had actually done was three massive poos near the potty and a tiny after thought in it. I failed to match her excitement. Small boy’s journey hasn’t been smooth either: He fell short of the target the other day then wiped his bum with his hand and started drawing caveman-style all over the walls. Then girlie helpfully prodded her finger in it – “look finger dirty mummy” – and got creative on the walls too. Meanwhile I had also managed to tread in some and walk it into the kitchen and lounge. Another day, in the space of about 15 minutes, boy pooed in the paddling pool, girl weed on the kitchen floor, boy then pooed all over a kitchen chair, wiped it up with girl’s comfort blanket then threw girl’s comfort blanket in the paddling pool, then went off and weed in the potty and was all “Check out how clever I am!” and I’m like, “Seriously??”

Needless to say it’s all been immensely entertaining.

So now we’re turning to the power of the chocolate button. And we’re not just talking any old chocolate button. We going big guns. We’re going GIANT. This is actually only because Husband didn’t realise that there was such a thing as a GIANT sized chocolate button. The conversation went a bit like this:

Small girl eating a GIANT chocolate button

[Small girl sits nibbling painfully slowly on a GIANT chocolate button dribbling chocolate all around her chin and all over her hands. She looks like Peppa Pig eating chocolate cake, but for the pink skin and snout. And indeed the chocolate cake.]

Husband: I think we might have to go for something smaller – these chocolate buttons are way bigger than they used to be
Me: That’s because they’re GIANT chocolate buttons
Husband: Are they? How do you know?
Me: From the label on the packet saying GIANT chocolate buttons.
Husband: …

Initially the results were mixed. While Husband was out and about lording over the pair and wielding the new and exciting GIANT chocolate buttons there were no accidents. And uncharacteristically, small boy managed to wee on the (thus far extremely underused) travel potty. But when they returned to my care, they of course forgot the GIANT chocolate buttons. So within two minutes of arriving home we again had two small naked bottoms running around and Mummy crawling around on her hands and knees wiping clean the wooden floor (this time – small mercies) once more.

But three days later and the results are beginning to take shape. Well, sort of. Small boy can now be coaxed onto the potty at times where he would previously have refused. At times I surreptitiously add extra GIANT button bribery outside of the standard one button for a wee, two buttons for a poo reward model to get results and most of the time it works. As for small girl, well she doesn’t even need coaxing anymore and is instead sitting resolute on the potty at all times of the day adamant that she is about to do a “wee-wee-poo-poo-two-buttons”. Rather than this keeping her entertained and allowing me to crack on with some chores, however, or even – gasp! – something more fun like reading a book or having a shower, my presence and interaction is still very much required: It seems that “wee-wee-poo-poo-two-buttons” won’t make an appearance without some audience participation from me. So in another one of those blessed ‘things they don’t tell you about parenthood’ moments, I find myself sitting with her for hours at a time while she instructs me how I can best help get things moving: “Mummy sit-a-me”, “Mummy, hold-a-me”, “No Mummmy, no touch”, “Mummy talk-a-me”, ‘Mummy, no talk!”, “Mummy sit here”, “No leg there, Mummy, leg cross” …ad infinitum.

But eventually “wee-wee-poo-poo-two-buttons” does make its appearance and the GIANT chocolate buttons are dutifully doled out. Two for small girl, the rest of the packet for me as a reward for not strangling her in the process.

So a week on and how are we feeling? Did the power of the GIANT chocolate buttons transform this house of poop? Well, I’d say that in general yes. The threads on the knees of my trousers are only a little more bare, the piles of soaking laundry are smaller, the potties are looking more used and, but for a particularly harrowing diarrhoea incident that we’re all trying to forget, the number of carpet-ruining and mental health challenging accidents have indeed gone down. The downside is of course, that I am now hopelessly addicted to GIANT chocolate buttons, which has meant that my cabbage soup diet hasn’t been quite as effective as I’d hoped. On the plus side, however, I haven’t had an accident all morning.

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Two Times Terrible Two

It’s 4:30am and I am sitting between two identical cots stroking two non-identical backs making two non-identical noises. I am tired. Tired to the core. We are on the tail end of a tandem tantrum and my nerves are long since gone. The fact that I’m still here at all is only because I am so numb with fatigue that I can’t even be bothered to stand up and relocate back to bed. And besides the (god sent) lullaby star night light is actually quite soothing…

Soothing night light

The love of my life.

It has been a long day. One that I cannot believe I will have to repeat tomorrow. The current regular tantrum inducers are: trying to get them dressed, trying to get them undressed, putting them in the buggy, taking them out of the buggy, leaving the house, re-entering the house, putting them in their chairs for dinner time, not allowing them to make their own dinner, not allowing them to sit on a perilously high surface for dinner, bathtime, bedtime, and so it goes on… I find myself going through varying degrees of calm and collectedness (mixed with a lot of uncalm and disconnectedness), but I know that if I want to get through each fit of insanity quickly then the only thing that works is acknowledging their grief in a grown up, sensible, serious manner and then distracting them from it jovially. But who has the time and patience to do that 24 (x2) times a day? And so they cry on. And boy do they.

Nothing can prepare you for the pain of having two year old twins. I literally feel like someone has come round and injected fatigue into every joint…with an extra shot into each of my temples. When they are born you have this lovely image of ‘being totally sorted’ by this stage. “In a year or two they’ll

be playing with each other and you can put your feet up,” people said to me. At that point, phrases like that were the light at the end of the tunnel. Well that light has long since gone out. In fact it turns out it wasn’t a light at all but a firefly flying ever closer until it finally exploded like a fire cracker in my face. But will there be a light at the end of this tunnel or more exploding fire flies/crackers? Ah well, “things get much better when they turn 3,” someone sagely tells me. Well d’you know what? I know people with 3 year old twins and I’m yet to feel much hope when I visit them, I can tell you. So when is it then? 4? 5? 5000?? All I know is that if I concentrate on thinking “oh good god when will it get better??” then right now feels worse. So I’ll concentrate on the here and now. And the here and now is drifting off to sleep. And so am I. That night light is magic. In fact, fuck these two. Tonight that light is mine.

 

Urine in my tea cup

I’m having one of those days. I’ve just sat down to drink my tea, a moment of salvation that I was hoping would give me the strength to get through the next couple of hours (or minutes at least) and what do I see? I see that a urine-soaked tea towel has been stuffed in the top of my cup.

Madhouse tiny army

We are potty training. Well we (read I for the most part) are attempting to. But today has been one of those days. One where there has not been a single sticker assigned to the potty training log (no puns please). I sigh. I was thinking we’d pretty much nailed it with the little boy one, but even his high standards of 3-dots-and-1-butterfly-sticker a day have fallen by the wayside today. I look back to my ‘tea’ and muse that there must be a joke about throwing the towel in there somewhere. But the ‘there’ involved is my brain and that’s past being able to construct jokes. So although in its deepest corners it registers there is the potential for humour, it otherwise stays still and numb. And no glimmer of a smile crosses my face. I just can’t muster enough energy. Frankly it’s the last straw and I’m now beyond laughing.

I’m also beyond cleaning up the six hundredth wee patch that is under the table (and partly on my feet). I’m also beyond cleaning the sofa for the six hundredth time to try to rid it of what is a distinct smell of bottoms. It’s ‘Mummy’s hit a wall’ time and this tea was going to be the thing to give me the extra gazumpf to break me through it. I feel like my senses have been numbed and I am running on some 20 year old petrol that someone found in the shed that no-one’s sure is still going to work. Well I can confirm that it doesn’t. I am at that stage where I am aware that I am not being the patient, fair, soft-spoken earth mother that I would like to be. Instead I am bouncing between forced earth mother softly spoken patience and severely impatient, snapping, angry I’ve-lost-my-methadone-prescription style mother that I’d really rather not be. And do you know what goes through my mind? Yes, that’s right. I’m thinking that my mood swings are going to cause my children permanent psychological damage. Now isn’t that a productive and helpful way to occupy my mind? Is there any scientific basis for me to start worrying about this? Well there might be something out there, but the reality is that I will have read something, somewhere at some point that suggested something that might have slightly been along those lines. But of course I’ve conveniently forgotten the details of the article. And therefore forgotten the bits of the article that make this fairly unlikely.

I start cursing my inability to retain information and then just in the nick of time before I beat myself up completely for being useless again I swerve. I swerve towards the light and think one very clear thought. That reading is bad for me. Well reading anything relating to being a perfect mama anyway. I am going to go back to baser methods. I am going to trust my instincts. Because when I’ve failed in the past it’s because I haven’t trusted them sufficiently. So what do my instincts tell me? They tell me to put the kettle on, give myself a pat on the back for not killing anyone today and reach for the pack of nappies.

Tether’s end

You think you have reached the end of your tether, then some poo somehow appears on the hall floor, one of your terrible two drives through it on their plastic toy car and starts to distribute it at 20cm intervals throughout the house. It is only then that your tether is truly reached. The only way to cope is to leave the house, eat dim sum, drink wine and eat cake.