Mama, do you trust me?

When the Jibbers was younger, before he became the wise sage of four, Josh and I decided to embark on a relatively new journey. We decided to engage in child-led potty-training. In most of what I read though the children seemed to be initiating it around the age of 2 years old. The Jibbers – completely a kid with his own timeline – was not interested.

I watched and listened as friends’ boys, some younger than my own, became potty-trained. I became entranced with all the potty paraphernalia – the books, the videos, the articles, the websites, the potties – so much stuff!! But the Jibbers was not interested. Much to my chagrin, he quite vocally advocated that he would stay in diapers till he was ‘as big as Papa’ – my husband is almost 6 ft tall – and he refused to hear the word potty from anyone.  And I desperately tried to agree. I so wanted him to be the one to initiate this, to want to do this. When we went out I stopped telling people that we hadn’t started the potty training.  After the initial five times of: “What? He’s three years old and you haven’t even started?!” I kept it very quiet.

I had to trust the Jibbers to know when he was ready. I wanted him to know that I trusted him; that we as his parents trusted him to know what his body was ready to do. I mean, didn’t we trust him when he ate as much as he wanted to eat? Didn’t we trust him when he decided to try the monkey bars? Didn’t we trust him when he learned to slice vegetables to help with dinner? So why stop now? It was the social pressure; so much from everyone. A lot of it though was in my mind.

When we visited Toronto, I asked my family not to mention potty training to the Jibbers and they respectfully obliged. My mum was very vocal about how as children grow up they stop using diapers and start using the toilet. Apparently she and the Jibbers had many conversations that I wasn’t even aware of. And she did so respectfully, garnering his opinions and thoughts on the matter, not reacting one way or the other.

A friend came by to visit with her brood, and she was in the process of potty training her second son; her eldest, a month younger than the Jibbers, was already used to and trained in the task. She offered to let the Jibbers watch. And he did.

I approached friends for advice on what to do, how to approach it with the Jibbers. I was worried. What if he never wants to come out of diapers?! We were already at the largest size available!!

Then one morning it was as if all the pieces began to fall into place: he said that he did not want to wear his diaper that day. Since I didn’t have any underwear available, we went commando for a few days. I won’t say we lived happily ever after, because it’s had its glitches as we try to navigate this new, relatively easier than anticipated transition. But because the Jibbers is invested in it, because he initiated it, it’s been a lot easier than it could have been. When I get a little frazzled, in his wise four-year-old way he asks me, “Mama, do you trust me?”

I think one of the biggest issues with homeschooling, and our current take on it – unschooling – is trust. I have to trust the Jibbers to know when he is ready to learn reading and writing and math. Each day has been about building upon the initial trust that my son knows what he needs to know and if he doesn’t know he will ask. I’ve been told that he’s too smart to be homeschooled. I think he’s too smart for school, just like any.other.child.

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He’s started asking us about letters and numbers everywhere. We read everything we can get our hands on, our walls and floors are filled with books, we do letter matching, we write letters with a stick in sand and in snow and we follow with our fingers, we focus on number recognition, but not because I think it’s about time. It’s all because the Jibbers wants to know.

So when he asks me, “Mama, do you trust me?” I will always answer with a resounding yes, even if my heart may be a little scared.

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~ by Omaira on February 25, 2013.

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