The cry for “Mommy” shook just enough of me awake to see the digital display, “4:00 a.m.” floating double on the dresser, and I zombied myself to the child in question.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
The 12 percent of me that responded to his call, heard this as a proclamation of the end of a night – the beginning of a bedraggled, sleep-deprived, cranky day, and I strongly defended my position.
(It hadn’t occurred to me that his chosen words “I waked” would surely mean a rather unsettling regression in language skills, but I repeat, the largest portion of my brain was still happily dreaming under her covers.
“Oh no, honey. It is not time to be awake”
“I waked!” he yelled again, anger and tears escalating.
“Zachary, it is the middle of the night. We are not waking up now, but I will lie down with you for a few minutes.”
At this generous offer, his frustration spiked into spastic kicks and pushes thrust into my knees and thighs.
Enforcing the “Abuse will not be tolerated no matter what time of day or night” rule, I said with stern authority,
“Zachary, I will not be kicked and pushed. If you continue to do that, I will not stay in here with you.”
He lay still next to me, but continued to quietly whimper.
“Honey, what is wrong? Are you cold? Do you need warmer jammie’s?”
“MOMMY! I LEAKED!”
This shocking news jolted the remaining 88 percent of me from her lazy slumber in the room across the hall, and she bolted to join us in a soggy bed. Gasping in a giant swig of guilt, I grabbed my (wet from the waist down) son out of his bed and smothered him in a hug.
“Zachary! I am so sorry! I misunderstood you! Sweetheart! I am so so so sorry!”
He giggled, (probably out of relief that he is not the spawn of a satanic entity forcing him to sleep in his own urine) and answered,
“It’s ok, Mommy. You didn’t understand me. Don’t worry.”
The rigmarole of changing diapers, pants, fitted sheets, blankets, and a rattling chain of remorseful apologies, served to eradicate any sleepy inclinations either myself or the three old had left, so we engaged in some reading and slumber party chatting until the urge to curl up and drift off returned.
Which it did.
At 6:00 a.m.
So both of us did just that…
…In dry clothes and sheets.
Because, contrary to what my initial reaction might indicate, I do NOT believe that shame and discomfort are appropriate or acceptable toilet training tools.