I'm just going to come clean right away and tell you: this is one of those posts that my kid is going to hate me for in no more than two years. I guarantee that by the time you get to the bottom of this, you'll feel like I do. Embarrassment is a currency, and I have put in the necessary work to earn the right to tell this tale.
Summer vacation is the new New Year's. Do you really think you're going to wake up on January 1 and finally change your life? I'm guessing January 1 is a pretty unpleasant morning for many of you. A one-day turnaround is unrealistic. So, many have jumped the summer vacation bandwagon. You chomp your donuts at the bus stop while the kids run around getting their school clothes dirty before school even starts, and you dream of the 6-8 weeks of your life where you don't wake up every morning and sprint to 9 pm. I'm going to learn Greek, get rock hard abs, and read Proust this summer! Well, not me, but I'm sure one of you bitches thought it.
I had set lower expectations for myself. I was going to get the Big One to Number 2 promptly, without delay, the success of which could cause some kind of worldwide glut in size 7 Disney Princess underwear when I stopped having to buy replacements.
When this problem first began, I tried negotiating and mentoring first. I explained in painful detail the medical and social reasons why you cannot fight the body's urge to eliminate waste. After about a year of that, I switched to nagging. Then I tried ignoring. Then one day, I thought up some bullshit story about how I knew she had to poo because I could see it in her face. The first time I said it, she turned pale and ran to the bathroom. I was a genius. But then a couple of days later she called my bluff, and more underwear ended up in the garbage can.
I was pretty down in the dumps with the whole routine, and summer vacation seemed full of hope. Like when I had her full attention, and she wasn't doing whatever it is first graders do to prepare for entry into Harvard, she would listen to reason and put "Defecate" into the Number 1 slot of her list of priorities.
To make matters worse, we were also failing miserably in another one of my summer projects: Table Manners.
Backstory: the girls have been on a kick devising hand signals in order to communicate. Unfortunately, they're still young enough to want me to participate in this sort of thing, so I have to learn all the hand signals for Pee, Poo, Alert!, Un-alert, etc., etc. I always felt my horrible memory was the only thing that stood in my way of learning to write in Chinese, but after this week, I feel like maybe it's no big woop.
Last night at dinner, as I was busily trying to fill the plates of my children with food they would refuse to eat, I stupidly asked the Little One if she would care for some chicken. She calmly looks up at me and gives me The Finger.
"Mommy, this means I don't want chicken."
So back to the underwear. I think I had this brilliant idea on the last day of school, which was one week ago today. You'll forgive me if this is already hazy. It FEELS like a lot longer than one week. But I had this idea almost immediately after dropping the Big One off for her last day of the first grade that I should go crazy with the carrot and forget the stick with this poop thing. When she got home, I told her that everytime she showed me a poop, she would get one dollar. I saw her turn it over in her mind, and then I walked away.
The next day, I reminded her about it twice. I told her dad about it while she was in earshot. I waited, rubbing my hands together both nervously AND diabolically. And then, I saw it. That look on her face that she makes when she has to go poo? It isn't really a bullshit story. I knew she did have to go. I always know when she does. We looked at each other, and I sunk the meaning and significance relayed into a dozen therapy sessions into that one glance. In her mind, she was probably calculating the probability that I would have cash in my wallet to make good on my promise. And then, she went into the bathroom and ejected pay dirt.
One week later, I have paid out $3, and I realize that while I have so far found more success in 7 days than I have in 3 years in this area, I am also one bout of diarrhea away from bankruptcy.