Paging Dr. Steina

There’s nothing quite like walking on puffed wheat soaked in urine. Not only were my middle children tossing their baby brother’s cereal NEAR their mouths but my daughter Alice had, once again, peed on the floor. This has been an on-going problem in our house for the last few months when I decided, based on her night-dryness and bowel control that panties were the final step. But people who told me wet panties would be a physical discomfort that would not be tolerated were wrong. Wet panties are just an excuse for another costume change for this little diva. The sticker chart that held the promise of a Tinker Bell dress lost it’s steam after a while, even with a photographic reminder of the goods, no pleading or questioning or angry behavior, no promises or positive reinforcement, nothing I tried was motivating. I really got sick of it when the neighbor kids asked me why my daughter peed on the ground like a dog. And I got really sick of seeing my daughter in her 5th outfit of the day. And really, really sick of finding stinky wet spots on the carpet.

After a growly rant over the state of my kitchen floor I retreated to the living room and was faced by a giant wet spot on the couch. Not only had she wet her pants, but she decided it would be a GREAT idea to sit her juicy bottom on the sofa instead of changing her clothes. And I lost my mind. After a meltdown (mine, not my daughter’s) I sent her to nap and I tried to make sense of it all. And by that I mean posting a snarky comment on Facebook.

Many chimed in with sympathy and advice...and I sat and wracked my brain about what do. Was she jealous of the baby? Afraid of something? What did she need from me? Obviously she didn’t need my fury or disgust. I firmly believe (although I frequently fail to remember what I believe) that bratty behavior needs to dealt with at the root...submission to authority does not equal problem-solving.

Naptime ended, the floor was cleaned up, and I sent Alice to scrub the sofa with vinegar. She then joined me in the kitchen and informed that her name was Steina. I’m rather familiar with Steina. She’s a grown-up like me, with kids like mine. Sometimes she’s a doctor. “Hello, Dr. Steina.” “I’m not a doctah,” she informed me, “I’m just Steina. I'm a dwown-up” “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a doctor.”

“Steina...I’m having a problem, and I wonder if you can help me. My daughter Alice keeps peeing on the floor. Why is she doing that? What should I do?”

“Um, I tan’t wemember.”

“I really value your advice. Are you sure you can’t help me?”

She then told me that Alice would stop peeing on the floor when she was a big girl.

“When will she be a big girl?” I asked, with genuine curiosity.

“Uuuuh...free and a haff?”

My eyes grew wide. “Well, Steina, you just won’t believe this, but Alice turned three and a half last week!” I had forgotten this myself...in my mind she was about to turn 3 and a half...I completely missed the date (and, as a note, I am going to be 32 and a half tomorrow.)

“Do you think if we celebrated Alice’s half-birthday she would know she is a big girl and stop peeing on the floor?” Steina agreed that this was the case, and I started to panic a bit. I was perilously low on groceries and it was already almost time for dinner. I ran to the pantry and found, glory be, some instant chocolate pudding. “Would Alice like some pudding for her birthday?” Steina agreed that this would be a great idea.

At the end of dinner I made the announcement that it was Alice’s half birthday. I put a candle in her small pink bowl of chocolate pudding, which I had also sprinkled with m&ms. We all sang “Happy Half-Birthday To You.” The boys protested a bit that they had never had a half birthday party, so I agreed that we could celebrate EVERYONE’S half birthday each year. If it all it means was a special dessert, so be it.

As I turned to the drawer to pull out some spoons I realized we were one shy, not an uncommon occurrence. I have more than once found my spoons in the backyard because the boys are on a three year mission to dig a hole to the center of the earth. “Don’t worry mom...we’ll come back for meals.”

All I could find was a purple & green toddler spoon with the end gnawed off. I immediately realized that Alice COULD NOT use this spoon. She’d never believe she is a big girl if I gave her a BABY spoon. So I chose that one, and gave her one of my few dinner spoons. Crisis averted!

It’s day one of the great experiment, and so far so good. Only time will tell if this will work. But if it does, I know a big girl who is getting a Tinker Bell costume.