For the past year we have been working to potty train our son Joshua who is 3 and half. Joshua has developmental delays and ADHD, which makes potty training hard. I have potty trained 3 boys so far and boys are hard to train, but Joshua is down right impossible. For almost a year of putting him on the potty and trying to get him to “go”, he did nothing. I was thinking all kinds of stuff and wondering if there was something physically keeping him from potty training. I have never had a boy not be able to do anything on the potty, being willing is one thing, but being able to is another. I tried and tried and nothing happened. So, I gave up for a while, until this school year when his preschool teacher wanted to try to train him. He is in a special needs preschool so I figured she knew more than I did about training kids with delays, so I let her try. Lo and behold after a few weeks he was pottying at school, but refused to do it at home. I was beyond frustrated. So, we decided in one last ditch effort of bribery we would take the kid to Toys R Us on Saturday and let him choose an awesome toy he really wanted and tell him he could only play with the toy went he went potty.
We went into Toys R Us with our four boys. Everyone knew the point of our venture, and my two oldest were great sports about helping us out. We agreed to allow our youngest, Elijah, who is 2 and a half, and has basically potty trained himself through all our efforts with Joshua, to get a toy that he could play with when he went potty also. Even though he is completely trained already. We went up and down the aisles suggesting toys to the two little boys and nothing seemed to appeal to them for more than five minutes. Finally, we came to the toy trains, and Elijah, who is currently obsessed with Thomas the Train, chose a train to buy. Now on to Joshua. Joshua chose a toy, but we were trying our best to get him to get something different. He had chosen a toy from the infant section. No matter what we did, that was the toy he wanted because it played music. He loves music. So, we tried to get him to play with older kid toys with music but no, he wanted that infant toy. Honestly, this is where parenting a child with special needs and delays gets hard. Some people would say, “what is the big deal, just let him get the infant toy if he wants it.” And maybe it’s not a big deal to most people, but to me it is. We want so badly for our son to act like other three-year olds, but he doesn’t. I want him to talk like other three-year olds, but he doesn’t. I want him to pretend and play Thomas the train with his two-year old brother, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t really play with toys as they are to be played with, he never has. He has moments of acting close to three, but they are few and far between. This toy was a big deal because it was yet another reminder than my son is different. He isn’t like other kids his age and he most likely never will be.
It’s funny, I can easily accept that my daughter, who is almost 11, plays with toys for a five-year old. That doesn’t bother me. Why? because we know she has significant delays and she always will. I find it charming actually, that even as an adult she will most likely play with toys. But with Joshua, I still hold out this hope that he will magically catch up to his peers and be “normal”. I push and push him to catch up, but I really know he most likely won’t. The doctors and therapists like to give me some hope that he will be normal but even if he didn’t have developmental delays he still would have significant ADHD and that would make him act in ways that other kids don’t.
My husband and I struggled with the toy store incident and we finally found him a book that played music that was age appropriate. We were heartbroken really, that he just couldn’t decide on a toy and then the one he did want was an infant toy. The hardest part was we didn’t see it coming. we thought we would all have a great day buying the kids a toy they really wanted, but nothing is as simple as it seems when it comes to raising special needs kids.
The good news is the toy has worked and Joshua has gone potty a few times every day since then. It was a victory in the long run, but what a hard moment of facing our reality.