No worries, the title isn't supposed to make you feel pity for me - not today at least. Those who know me and Gus, know that we dealt with potty training in a protracted painful way from spring all through summer of this year (2011, the year of excrement, at least in my family). Gus is now sort-of-potty-trained. I wouldn't leave him in charge of a bunch of little boys without diapers, far from it. While he knows what's expected of him and while he mostly voluntarily goes to the potty for No. 1, he still has to be reminded and then marched to the potty to do his No. 2 business. This is working most days, as long as we stay vigilant and in our minds add up what he eats and what he poops.
At four and with a diagnosis of autism, that's not a bad place to be. Many children on the spectrum, struggle with personal hygiene in general and potty training in specific - it's simply hard to put the physical sensation of needing to go with the socially accepted motions of asking for assistance and going to the potty - especially when there are many other more "pressing" matters on the autism mind - like the hum of the fridge or the colors the sun makes on a puddle.
Today, we missed all the cues - twice. Meaning I'll be running a small but rank load of laundry tonight and propping up my bruised ego with a glass of wine. It's easy to have a special needs child as long as he behaves along the socially accepted norms - quirky is cute, needing a diaper at 4 isn't. That's where I still am. I get sad and tormented when I see Gus' abilities and achievements be outdone by everyone of his age and - worse - those years younger. It's hard to not be within the "norms" even when everyone around us assures me that those are highly suspect. After all, we all want to fit in and belong. When your child is of special needs, you find yourself feeling alone, more often than not and most often in the middle of a crowd - of neuronormal kids, who are dying to show off how eager they are to please and hit all those milestones - even if they are suspect.
Going back to today, II had the option of loosing it, yelling, guilting him, blaming myself or simply chalking it up to a bad day, but in the end all I was left with was soiled laundry and the sad thought that this is not the last time, I trust my 4-year-old son to connect the dots and head to the bathroom when the urge hits him.
In his defense, he is always very sorry and quick to help with the cleanup.
And today, he even - however reluctantly - sat on the potty after the second accident and squeezed out what I consider a consolation poop.
He wanted to make it right and make me happy - and he did.
He is not like others, but he tries really hard to be good.