Sunday, February 10, 2008

The History of Anna

This post / email is very long. Nancy and I took the time to try to make it as short as possible and still give some details. Please overlook my broad generalizations and realize that given the amount of responses this is a subject many care about... and have a variety of opinions & solutions on. I wanted to do a little rebuttal and give our history / point of view.

Lets start at the beginning with some things that set us up for ‘failure.’ I changed one diaper a month (if that) for the first 2.5 years of Anna's life (then only if 'wet'). I am uncomfortable with that area of Anna's body, and also the ickyness of messes. Anna quickly learned to let it stew until mom came home. Though we started to set her on the toilet when she was ready at 18 months it was hard to be consistent. I had already lost my job months prior and we moved out of our house, living either with family, friends, an apartment, or traveling pretty consistently until we settled in here in India five months ago. All valid reasons not to be toilet training.

Oddly Anna and I (Ryan) are pretty much the same, our tastes, how we get tired, sick, etc. From the first few weeks of life Nancy only had to look at me to tell what was really going on with this new baby... and though I knew, I was too pathetic of a person** to do more than try to explain it to Nancy and let her loose with that 'thing.' The good news is that I am trying to be better about my involvement and showing Anna love. I am Anna's best advocate and coach, as I only need to look at myself to see what is going on inside our little girl.

**That is one of my character flaws, I will do nothing leadership wise until I am absolutely certain that the current leader is so ‘royally messing things up’ that I must step up in order to 'save humanity.' It does not help that I lack a majority of social graces … my leadership is harsh, directive, and well ... caustic.

Back to Anna and training... she has been aware of how to use a western toilet for half her life. She became truly aware of it was better to go in the toilet last winter, and if we had stayed home for a month straight then we would have got the job of training done. Anna became luggage not a focus in our life for six months as we Raised support to move to India. We postponed an important step in developing our child in favor of 'following God', I still remember the time that Anna became so distraught by missing an opportunity on the toilet she started to cry, that was our third day of serious training when she was 25 months. The next day we were on the road again.

The transition to India did digress her some, so much stress here. But since October we have been slowly moving forward with training her. M&M's are her good reward, not great but good. She has been wearing underwear at home and is having less and less accidents. She does not like to sit on the toilet. Her ‘I need to go’ indication is a very quite whisper "i want a diaper" which is a 3 second warning. Anna is very much convinced that playing is much more important than going and for her whole life that was the case. We do ask her every couple hours if she needs to go but the answer is usually no even if it is really yes.

But Anna is not usually home! School six days a week from 9-noon. So soon after breakfast and waking up in the morning... Prime time to do #2. And school is so much fun, plus with the number of kids there Anna's soft little whispers get lost, plus she does not like the toilet there**, nor the Indian clean up procedure. And she is in a diaper (teachers request over underwear.) Given that most her classmates never used diapers, and it is culturally normal for a child to be very close to mom the early years training completes quite young. [Add to that the fact that India is one great big toilet, Nancy has not gone one day without seeing a grown man going on the sidewalk somewhere, there is a whole class of people paid to clean this up there is a great youtube video about that... here is the link to part 1 part 2 and 3 link from there. When a child needs to go, you stop, she squats, goes, stands up, and on with the journey. Now if any 'cleanup' is needed there is the left hand and maybe some nice cold water.]

**Well no one in our family likes Indian squat toilets, Nancy uses them as a necessity, and I only standing up so far.

At school they do have a room with a toilet and water faucet. So after her accident the teacher or her eyre would take Anna to be changed. Up until a couple weeks ago neither knew the purpose of wipes that we had in her bag, Anna would scream and run from the cold water, result she would just stew, and come home dirty. Very confusing to us parents. Esp when they still wanted 10rs a time. Thank you Gnana for telling them the way we clean up Anna. But as cleaning up is still not toilet training, we are bringing in Bungi* to facilitate the teachers and parents to develop a plan acceptable to all that will help Anna along in her journey of mastering life. Our hope is that a solution will come that will show our daughter respect, integrity, firmness, and love... and the most important of these is love.

*Bungi is very busy at work setting up the largest event GO has ever had on March 8th so getting her here has been tough.

But that is not the only challenge of the away from parents land. After Anna's nap usually about 3 or 4 Anna is invited over to play at Ishwa's and Madhav's house. It is nice to send her over, we get a nice quite house until 8pm. The boys ridicule her for accidents so Anna is more likely to use a toilet, even thought they do a water cleanup. Madhav is a better reward than M&Ms but then we loose out on the opportunity to raise Anna the way we would like her raised.

So that is the current situation, what is culturally acceptable diaper usage in the USA makes a 3 year old outcast here. So we continue to have our grocer import pampers from japan at 930rs a pack. We need to work with three distinct groups of people to figure out a consistent plan of action with our child, two of which have very different cultural backgrounds than us, I expect we may be doing some changes in our raising, though in the end she is our child and if we are Biblical and loving we can impart some great wisdom on this place. So even if it is more challenging, Anna will not be pulled from school or playing with other kids. She will have to live out there in the 'world' someday anyway.



  1. HEy guys, I can see how this would all make for a very confusing, difficult, even heart-wrenching transition for all of you!

    A gal I know recently did this to potty-train her child:... (of course this is a stay at home mom who is with her daughter all day, so keep that in mind!). She loaded her up with drinks and snacks during the day and made her sit on the potty EVERY 30 MINUTES. This frequency strengthens the "going" muscles so that the little body is more aware of what it feels like and when they have to go. The drinks and snacks made frequent going a possibility and due to the frequent going in the potty, it boosted morale and self-confidence. She was trained in just a matter of one week, though they are still using a diaper at night just in case. She has woken dry the past couple mornings though.

    Praying for you guys and little Anna!

  2. Hi Ryan and Nancy.
    I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t the only parents struggling with potty-training. Josiah is nearly three and when we actually put forth the effort to put underwear on him, we end up with more failures than successes. And the only successes are when we take him to the potty at the right time. He never goes on his own. Sometimes we just set a timer and he know that when the timer beeps we will take him to the potty. If we ask him (as you said), he says he doesn’t need to go even if he does. I feel so bad for you guys having to deal with it in a culture not your own and a place where diapers are $25 a bag (I converted it online and was shocked… how does a short-term m. afford diapers like that?). We are praying for you, and struggling along-side you. The difference between you and us is that nobody here really cares that my almost 3 year-old wears diapers. Most three-year-olds do. His preschool class NEXT year even allows diapers. It’s not until he’s in the Pre-K class that they require them to be potty-trained. So I read your email and my heart was breaking for you. Most parents not currently going through the potty-training process tend to forget how emotionally draining and frustrating it is. God must give us cortisol or something to help us forget about it when it’s done. Just rest assured that she won’t go to college wearing pampers and that eventually she’ll get it.