Month 25: A World of Pure Imagination

This month imaginary play makes its way into Itty Bitty’s talents.   Over this past year she’s held and kissed dollies, worn toy links as bracelets, ribbons as necklaces, rolled trucks, worn hats, donned scarves, banged keys, and put all kinds of things into bags and one of my big soup pots stirring a great clatter with my ladle.   She’s had the mommy and daddy duckies in the tub kiss too.     Over the few months though  I’ve seen the creepings of more complex imaginary play and I’ve seen it take off over the last 6 weeks.

It started with this old plastic foot stool we have that is very light and a hold in the middle for a handle.  It makes it very easy for her to carry around the house, put it where she wants, stand on it, and look for mischief interesting things to explore with her new-found height.      She can now put her water thermos on a counter without danger of beaning herself in the head and can pilfer liberate Daddy Man’s car keys and watch — just about anything else we used to put on the counter for safe keeping.         I used to cook with her strapped to my back, until she was no longer content to watch, got too leggy, and learned to manipulate things with her toes (like Daddy Man).     Down to the floor she went with a big blue soup pot, ladle, and whatever flotsam was on the floor.  She was a beginner walker at the time, so perhaps that was around 14 or 15 months.     She was quite happy to do her own thing and collect bits off the floor (this was encouraging precursor to picking up and putting away her toys that I cultivated happily) — shoes, ribbons, toys, junk mail, toys…but thankfully not the cats.   The dishwasher was enjoyed too — handing me one fork or spoon at a time — was a grand game.

“While she will freely use boxes, bags, shoes, cat toys,  and kitchen dishware in her imaginative play she has never once used the potty chair in that way. “

Eventually, around 18 months or so, she abandoned side by side cooking to enjoy unsupervised eating and toy playing time in the living room sometimes  watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Chuggington, Little Einsteins or Handy Manny.  Itty Bitty thoroughly explored her independence and managed to occupy herself without incident (I soon stopped checking in to peek and was content to listen only checking if it got too quiet).

Coffee, Stew, and Strawberry Muffin?

Then one day she discovered she could move the step stool all by herself without effort.  It’s always been out

and I’ve moved it for her before so she could look out the window, or I’ve used it to get to the cabinet above the refrigerator.    It goes everywhere with her now.  If I am the kitchen along it comes.  If I am in the living room she lugs it back.    Once again, now that she has vantage point, she’s been fascinated with helping me or watching me cook.     I pulled out her Green Toys plates, cups, and bowls when I found them just before her birthday and she gravitated to them immediately when this past spring she took no interest in them.

Daddy Man and I have been served scrunchie noodle soup, bead stew, silly bandz tea, bracelet spaghetti, puzzle biscuits, and “whatever is on the floor that fits in the pot” jambalaya.      The step stool becomes a table, her little wood chair-stool placed in front, and she serves herself and her dollies a full course meal.       Because I cut up veggies before hand and put them in containers so she can “dump” them into a pot to help me, I’ve seen her do the same with her little cups or the ladle before putting something into the Big Blue Pot.       I think it is an important thing to note also, that while she will freely use boxes, bags, shoes, cat toys,  and kitchen dishware in her imaginative play she has never once used the potty chair in that way.   Either by instinct or by us simply not “setting the potty out to get used to by playing” (give me a moment to say…um…ewww) she has never played with the potty even though she’s played with the sink and hairbrushes.   She puts nothing in the potty except what is supposed to go in it.

This month I have seen her several times put her dollies and chosen stuffed animals in her 3-in-1 rocker, cover them, tell them night-night and kiss them.  She’s also made a bed out of the step stool for them.    We co-sleep but still do kisses and night-nights.

Truly, I am beginning to see all that she has been observing and absorbing.   Even her vocabulary I see reflected the words and phrases I’ve used most frequently and the habits we’ve done every day without my even thinking much about it.      Grapes is a good example.    We started giving her whole grapes to pluck off the vine when she was 23 months.  I handed her the bunch and she immediately went to sit down and didn’t get up until she was done.   We’ve always insisted she sit down to eat things like that, even when cut, and she knew what to do on her own.    When she spills something she says “uh oh, I maydamess!” and asks me for a cloth so she can clean it.    I hear myself echoed there, “Uh Oh, you made a mess!”

These aren’t terrible twos at all.    Yes, we have occasional full body emotion tantrums…but honest, a lot of us adults could benefit from a good fall down emotional release ourselves!

Wait, this is a potty learning blog isn’t it?

Yes, it is!    I suppose I should say something on that subject then!

This is all interrelated.  Potty Learning isn’t this separate beast that must be tamed.   It is part of the whole shebang.  It has always been there, it just changes as she grows.   So, on with the potty talk…

I found a wonderful blog post on “Going Potty In China” .   I’d would have had Kaidangku in my arsenal had they been available here.  Finding, training pants that fit was hard enough!

On 10/12  Itty Bitty was playing with Daddy Man upstairs (we keep a potty up there — no bathroom) and he said she suddenly blurted in the middle of a very intense game, “I got to pee!” and then ran to the next bedroom to potty saying to herself “hurry hurry hurry!” I didn’t even know she knew that word.

Set Up for Success and Choices

Itty Bitty has stepped up her renewed interest in the Big Toilet.   She’s much taller now and can get on it by herself more easily then before, but it still takes considerable effort.  She asks for my help using the word  toilet — or as she says “toy-yet”.     It’s a lot for her to lift the lid, put on the insert, and set up her wood chair-stool before hoisting herself up.   It’s not that she can’t do it, as I said before, it is that the work to reward ratio isn’t balanced enough yet to make it more practical than the Little Potty.   We have a teeny bathroom, and though I try to leave the stool there for her its inconvenient to do so.   Little Potty is preferred and she especially enjoys shutting the door now for privacy.  That is, of course, if she has time to shut the door!      If she knows she’s on the brink she doesn’t bother to waste time.   If I hear a running, urgent “thump thump thump thump” instead of a quiet padding,  I know that the door won’t be closed.

On 10/12 Itty Bitty showed me that she could get on the big toilet, with the insert, withOUT a step stool.  She used her monkey arms, spider legs, keen sense of balance, impressive coordination, and a healthy dose of fearlessness to do it.   She was exceedingly proud of herself with a big smile and she demonstrated this trick to me no less than three times!   You go girl.

We’ve had no accidents, no misses, or other incidences night or day, in or out (I am still the only creature in this house that goes potty at night!).   She can pull her pants both down AND up — er…if she happens to be wearing clothes.  She’s usually au natural on a daily basis.  We trust her instincts implicitly.   If we happen to notice the distended belly and a lot of musical notes coming from the butt tuba we ask, “Hey, do you have to poo?”  She’ll say no, and then a short time later her eyes go wide and she dashes off in a blur.     In fact, the other night (10/18) the purge was so voluminous that Daddy Man said he heard from the loo, “Daddee, hep.  Hep. Hep.”     She wanted help to empty the potty and to flush it away.     On occasion she has a messy poop, pulls up her pants without a wipe and notices that it doesn’t feel right, she let’s us know by removing the pants and showing us the soiled spot.

NEWSFLASH:    Just after I published this blog Itty Bitty reminded me of a new trick she put together all her own.    She voluntarily gets out of the tub by herself using the “safe way” (holding on with both hands one leg at a time), pees, and gets back in the tub the “safe way” and resumes her business.    She’s done that a few times now that her legs are long enough to not need to ask me for help to get out.      She peed in the tub ONCE around 13 or 14 months (she just couldn’t stop it) and looked a bit mortified a she signed potty frantically.    After that day, if she had to go in the middle of a bath she’d give the potty sign so we could put her on the potty or toilet before resuming the bath.

I know that this is “supposed” to be the age of potty refusals.  Of course, I don’t believe in potty pauses, but I do look out for potential obstacles.  I don’t think I’m having any issues with refusals for two main reasons:

1.  Daddy Man and I are not part of the potty process.  We empty and nothing more.
2.  She knows no other way.

The best thing I ever did for myself and the process was to put the diapers away BEFORE accidents were under control.

I worked on myself a lot to be sure I was understanding that I needed to trust her and to give her the opportunities to be independent (I’m with her the most hours of a day).   As in all the things she does, I had very little hand in it quite naturally.   I didn’t teach her to walk, or talk, or to make food out of bracelets.    That is all hard wired waiting only for body coordination to catch up.      I lived life and encouraged things that pleased me unconsciously more than consciously. Toddlers are masters of reading body language;  born to observe and emulate.

The best thing I ever did for myself and the process was to put the diapers away BEFORE accidents were under control.   It focused me on trusting myself and more importantly trusting Itty Bitty.   It helped her to learn how to stop an accident and to know that she could finish in the appropriate place; first by my saying “Wait!” and later on her own initiative.   Having exercised those muscles, she was free to test her capacity and to learn how to remedy a potty situation by herself.       To learn another language, they say the best thing is total immersion.    If you don’t learn by immersion, you have much more difficulty–you rely too much on your mother language.   I believe the same holds true for the potty process.     It doesn’t mean you won’t have success if you use diapers a long time, but it will be a very different journey with very different obstacles.    Of course, if you happen to be among the few who have a “knack” for language in adulthood it won’t make a difference.   Some toddlers just have an exceptionally strong urge to not soil themselves, others don’t have quite the intensity and are more easily influenced by learning to use diapers to toilet.

I do not think Itty Bitty has any significant memory of wearing diapers so has not made any associations with toileting in her pants.  There are no power struggles because there is no one to struggle against but herself.  There are no rewards or charts to phase out.   No external motivation other than our normal pleasure (okay, yes, sometimes incredulous exclamations at how much pee she was holding in the magic bladder).    Her motivation is internal and as natural to her as breathing.  Which is exactly what I was hoping for–to have it to be as seamless as walking and talking.


Phrases and Words of the Month

Coo-k (It’s funny when she says cook wit that toddler accent)
Ah-Me Ah-Me (A specific request for help to take off her shirt.  She might be trying to say “Help me with my arms”)
Stairsh (Stairs)
Punkeen  (Pumpkin)
Cheekin (Chicken)
Cho-kat (Chocolate.  I totally blame Daddy Man for that)
Reach it
Todoes (Tomatoes)
Taydos (Potatoes)
In-know (Window)
Whahapa?  (What happened?)
Gowahead Takee (Go Ahead, Take it)
Waygo?   (Where did it go?)
Daddy, seedown  (patting where she would like him to sit down, so she can climb on his back)
Show-da back  (for when she wants a piggy back from me.  She combined the words shoulder and back)
Your Welcome (clear as a bell and said on her own consistently and appropriately)

There are a few verbal utterances we haven’t managed to translate yet, too.      She’s beginning to learn more shapes and getting colors more sorted out.  Her favorite color at the moment seems to be green and her favorite shape a triangle as she spends more time pointing these out than others.

I totally forgot to mention a baby sign of her own invention that she’s been using for a year now.    She makes the sign for milk with palm up, with her arm stretched out.  It is clearly a “give me that” motion.   When she verbally asks for something and we don’t seem to be  getting it, she makes the motion towards the object in question.  We didn’t show her that.


We shall see if my observations hold up for the new addition.     Will Itty Bitty decide to use pee and poo to get attention even though she has no knowledge of using her expulsions as a means of exerting control over herself, or will she instead learn to cue me when the baby has to go?


About Laissez Faire

I am 41...42...43...44, married with two children, two cats, and a dog. Writing is my hobby, and learning and teaching my passions. Books! It used to be that I could devour several books a week when I had the time. I am usually too tired to stray awake these days with two kids. Currently my brain and energy levels have steered me to casual games, writing contests, and some inconsistent blogging.

Posted on October 21, 2011, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I love this. Thank you!

    My kid is going through so many of the same things – she is sooo into make-believe play. The potty training is going really well, too. I am loving it. I am really honing my sense of when she needs to go (which supplements her otherwise impecable body-awareness). I mean, she does all the work but I am getting much better at my part of the deal, too, knowing when and where to prompt her (like she doesn’t like noisy bathrooms, when we are out so I need to find somewhere quiet and discreet – that sort of thing). It feels so EC to me – thank you for ‘letting’ me call it that, if you know what I mean.


    • We’ll it is EC. And don’t let anyone tell you different! Mutual communication and respect. Though, it sounds like she is teaching you a whole lot more than you expected 🙂 It is so easy to underestimate the little ones when all you hear is all the things they can’t do! It makes you wonder how the species survived in the first place if the offspring were as incompetent as we are led to believe LOL. We’ve cultivated Itty Bitty’s natural climbing nature too (instead of saying no all the time, we tried to set her up so we could say yes), you should hear the talk that the other KIDS have had about the 1 year old (now two year old) climbing a ladder on the playground. I’ve seen more than one apprehensive child decide to overcome their fear of climbing after seeing Itty Bitty do it like a chimp. Given the opportunities, babies, toddlers, and kids have a lot of skill and moxie.

  2. PS though the potty was out before we started ‘training’ (but only ever used in context) DD never uses the potty in play for anything that isn’t a potty. That is to say, her dolls pee and poop sat on it, sometimes (hahah) but she doesn’t use it as a pan or something!! I agree: gross!!

  3. yeah, we do the same: create yes spaces and support her to do get into whatever *she* wants to explore, including climbing 🙂 Like minds… 🙂

  1. Pingback: Month 28: Question — Potty Refusals (Helping Toddlers to Help Themselves) « Diaper Free…The Other Side of the Moon

  2. Pingback: Month 25: Double Whammy – Day 729 to Day 754 | Pottytunities for Two

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