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I will be a better listener too, little man. Photo by Flickr user Ky (Creative Commons license).

Jax had been wearing his cast less than two hours when I realized, damn, this broken leg could be a big setback in potty training.

Little man was averaging one accident per week before he broke his right tibia. We hit potty training hard last spring and by mid-summer, had tackled no. 1. It took a little longer for him to recognize the urge to go no. 2, but we got there. Jax’s main obstacle to mastering the potty is one he shares with many kids: he doesn’t want to stop playing to go sit on the toilet. As such, he often waits until the last possible second, then bellows, “Mommy I have to gooooo peeeeeeee!” and tears through the house, tripping over shorts and undies he’s pulling down while running (for real, how did he not break something sooner than this?).

It’s entertaining, as long as he actually makes it to the potty, which he does 95% of the time.

A broken leg means there is no running to the potty at the last second. Granted, he has been more limited in his play up until the past week or so, but still. He can’t get there as fast as he could before, and I can’t always get him there as fast as is necessary.

My MO the past three weeks has been: lay him down on the floor, get his pants off, carry him to the bathroom, and sit him down on the potty. In public places, this has proven incredibly difficult because ew, I’m not laying him down on just any bathroom floor. I’ve never even put Jax on a public changing table, ever. Bit of a germaphobe, I am.

At preschool, the attention of the teachers is more divided, so getting him to the bathroom in time was an issue there as well. I decided, after an accident at home and an accident at school, all in one 24-hour period, that I should put him back in training pants just during school. I didn’t want him to be embarrassed, and I didn’t want him to pee on his over-the-knee cast, right? We had a talk about it and he seemed to understand.

“It’s just in case you have an accident, ok buddy?” I told him.

“I’m still a big boy,” he said, and it crushed me a little.

The next day, he did fine at school. Training pants stayed dry. I put him on the potty when we got home and he fussed about his leg hurting. We were getting ready to go somewhere and I was rushing and thought he was just in general pain. I reminded him that he’d just taken some medicine and should feel better soon. I urged him to pee and he fussed and fussed and finally said, “I can’t.” I took that to mean, “I don’t have to go.” I re-dressed him and sat him on the couch with a book while I dashed around with last-minute tasks before we had to walk out the door. I got his stroller and backpack out to the car and when I came back in, I picked him up to leave. My side was instantly wet. I said something like, “oh, Jax, you were just on the potty!”

I set him down on a changing pad in his bedroom and tried not to be upset, but now we were REALLY late, and a dozen concerns came flooding into my brain (what if he completely regresses? How am I going to get pee out of the couch? Do I have to change all my clothes, or just my shirt?). I swore just barely under my breath and headed to the laundry room to ditch the pissed shirt. Jax cried after me. I yelled back the hall, “You’re just going to have to wait a minute!”

It was not my finest moment. My little boy, on his back, unable to move, crying for me, and me mad about a stupid shirt and a stupid couch and a stupid schedule.

I got us ready. Jax sniffled in the car. It wasn’t until later, when the same fussing happened on the potty, that I realized his upper thigh skin was being pinched between the toilet seat and his cast. What a raging asshole I’d been.

I dug out the potty ring I’d been days away from passing down to Jax’s little cousin, and voila, potty sitting without skin pinching. Zero accidents since then.

I tried to talk to Jax about what happened.

You know what he said? I’m not even kidding.

“Mommy got frustrated. I’m sorry. I won’t do it anymore. I’ll be a big boy.”

Somehow I didn’t cry. I told him he didn’t do anything wrong at all, and that I’m the one who should say I’m sorry and I won’t do it anymore. I told him I didn’t realize it hurt him to sit on the potty, and that he had an accident because I couldn’t make him comfortable, and it wasn’t his fault. I told him he is such a big boy and that breaking his leg is a real bummer because he doesn’t get to do all the big boy things he was used to doing. I said I was sorry for getting upset and raising my voice. And he kissed my arm and slid to the floor to play cars.

I have an awesome kid. When things get hard, I have to slow down. I have to listen to both what he’s saying and what he can’t quite say yet. I don’t want to damage or shame my son in moments where a little chill could make all the difference.

Parenthood. It’s no joke.

Cast removal appointment is bright and early next Monday morning. That I may keep my head and my cool until then, and ever after.

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