This morning we were awakened 10 minutes before the alarm went off by Squish having a meltdown. He’d only been awake for a few moments and already the world was out to get him. He cried and yelled and pounded on the bathroom door, and I went to see what was the matter. Turns out, his brother was in the restroom and, for once in his life, had closed the door so he could take care of business in relative privacy. But Squish needed to use the restroom too. Urgently. And so he collapsed in front of the door in a tantrum.

The tricky thing here is that Squish does not “use” the toilet, per se. He has used it for its intended purpose exactly once. It was last week, and I decided that since the boy will, several times a day, stand in front of the toilet, put a shred of toilet paper in the bowl, and flush — and sometimes he will even pull his pants down and up — it was time to see what he was really made of.

So I took the diaper off and we practiced.

“What do you do if you’re in the playroom and you need to use the restroom? You runrunrunrunrun to the bathroom! Good job!”

“And what do you do if you’re in the kitchen and you need to use the restroom? You runrunrunrunrun to the bathroom! Good job!”

“Okay, now what do you do if you’re in the bedroom . . . . ” You get the idea.

And he loved it and had such a great time and then he actually used the toilet. Hooray. Potty treat, celebration, tell everyone how amazing he is — we did it all.

But since then . . . nothing. No interest. Some signs of fear. He still “uses the restroom” several times a day, but never without a diaper on.

I think that when he’s ready, he’ll pick it up quick as a wink. And I think that right now, he is in a bit of a scary place — a place where he is both fiercely independent and fiercely clingy. One minute he’ll be pushing my hands away, declaring he can do it himself, and the next he’ll be begging me to lie down with him for “just a minute” before he falls asleep or crawling into my lap so I can feed him my lunch.

I remember his brother at this age being the same way. Keeping me at the doorway of his room for an hour because he needed “to talk” before he went to bed, wanting me to carry him when just a few months before he had insisted on walking. And it drove me crazy — both “crazy in love” and “crazy insane.”

I feel the same way with Squish’s current behavior. And so I’m grateful to know he’ll come out of it eventually. He’ll realize that being toilet trained doesn’t mean sacrificing his freedom — or his dependence.

We’ll get through this mid-toddlerhood crisis, and we’ll be better for it.

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