When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

April 29, 2010

April 24, 2010

April 29, 2010.  Peter has been lying about the state of his Pullups and underwear for a few weeks now.  Once he wets a Pullup, he takes it off and hides it, and then replaces it with a clean one, all under the auspice of using the bathroom.  When his underpants are wet, he finds a way to change them too, shoving them deep under the gap between his highboy and the floor.  Then he tells us he’s dry so he can earn stars toward playing the Wii or his DS.  Last night Pat pulled out twelve pair of crusty, smelly, stiff as a board underpants from beneath his dressers.  For my part, I’ve found 6 or 7 disgustingly old, full Pullups over the course of a few days.  Fairly good planning, if you ask me, especially with regard to finding suitable hiding places to stash the dirties.  His fatal flaw was that he had no exit plan, he couldn’t think beyond the initial step of hiding the soiled items.  Eventually, of course, the odor gave him away and our parental noses lead us directly to the source.  We’ve been combating this problem for so long I shouldn’t be surprised by permeations in both his methodology and execution.  The offending discovery would have happened sooner except Peter’s bedroom  chronically smells like dried urine no matter how often I clean the carpets, scrub the plastic cover on his mattress, or spray the garbage bin.   Yesterday afternoon I walked into his room to put clean clothes away and stepped with bare feet onto a very wet spot in front of his dresser.  When confronted, Peter later admitted that he peed on the floor, though he can’t or won’t recall why.  “I do it all the time, Mom.  You don’t learn me not to.”  This is a familiar mantra, blaming anyone and everyone for his actions, and one that can really drive me batty.  Peter came home wet from school all three days so far this week, two in Pullups, yesterday in underwear.  On the days he wore Pullups his teacher reported that he was dry, a conclusion based on his telling her so.  Clearly having never taken FAS 101, she thinks him incapable of lying.  Since the school doesn’t believe us when it comes to his continence and purposeful wetting behaviors, and since trying to work with them on this issue was the genesis of our CPS experience, we decided yesterday morning to turn over the reins to the school in terms of Peter’s urinary habits, at least during school hours.  If he’s dry, great, if he’s wet, then they get the privilege of handling it.  Working with them is no longer within the realm of logical or even prudent possibilities.  When I explained the consequences for deliberately peeing on the floor, Peter opted to find humor in the situation and refused to adhere in any way to the terms of his punishment.  His eyes bulged and his head lolled loosely about his neck.  “I won’t do it,” he blared as he pounded his leg half-heartedly.  “If you’re going to hit yourself,” I responded coolly, “make it count.  That can’t hurt at all.”  He immediately stopped, of course.  After almost 6 years of parenting Peter, I know what’s feigned showmanship and what’s real.  It’s been like this for a few days now, ever since Pat returned from California.  Peter presently is in full attachment-dysfunction mode and will do whatever it takes to get a rise out of us.  So we can’t as much as break a sweat in front of him.  Watching us lose our cool over a disaster he orchestrated is a rush for him no different than that experienced by someone who abuses drugs.  Our job is to disabuse him of this sensation, this feeling of omnipotence, so that we can restore him to a healthier mindset where we can once again approach parenting as a privilege rather than an invitation to all out war.  It’s a much happier place for Peter, and for the rest of us too.  I do pray this battle is a short one.



  1. Wow. This story is in some ways similar to my daughter up until age five, when she was finally out of pull-ups. Since she didn’t come home to the states until age two, it did take three years for what most school personnel here expect of no pull-ups by age three. I’m with you on the concept that asking your school personnel to help is likely not worth the trouble. With my daughter, luckily she had a teacher (one year) who was willing to remind her every few hours to visit the little girl’s room. It kept some of the pull-up and dribbles issues at bay, but not all. With a special needs educational facility for your son, they would likely be more helpful on monitoring the situation during the school day. It is related to his special needs. I do hope you are able to find a way for Peter to go to a school where he is supported for his special needs. I know with my daughter, the stress from any disapproval of school personnel just compounded the pull-ups dillema. I feel for you and your family.

    Comment by Lori — April 29, 2010 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Lori. Where is your daughter now (educationally)? I so hope we can get Peter into a real special ed. school so that he (and us) can get some support. The school keeps refusing to send him (I guess they don’t want to pay for it) so we keep using the law to push the issue further. One of these days we’ll get there . . . or not, who knows? The thing is, they think they’ll wear us down but they won’t. We just can’t keep living this way. I hope you’re daughter is doing well. Best – Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — April 29, 2010 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

      • Mary,

        My little missy is still in the public school system. A bone of contention between my ex and I… Since I’m the ‘educator’ with doctorate work in Education, it would seem I might be the better to assess. Yes, just one of the reasons for the divorce.

        Anyway – to answer your question. The best source of education I found for my daughter was when she was at the Montessori. They assessed her abilities before placement, just in case they would need to make a referal for another more specialized setting to assist my daughter. This was a few years back, right after the public school administration threatend to hit my kiddo with a wood paddle, resembling a fraternity board. True story. Needless to say, I’m sure you know what my reaction was – so I yanked her right out and placed her in the Montessori. No, the public school district did not pay the tuition. I didn’t know of the law at that time, or I would have pushed it. It turns out that the Montessori had caught up my daughter’s reading in the remaining four months of that school year. The school district had refused to understand that English was her second language.

        So, I would start with the Montessori in your area. My adoption agency out of Chicago recommended, as well as the partnering agency here in Texas. Montessori is known to work with the abilities of the child, not against. And, if the Montessori thinks there is is someone better – they will let you know who. I was told by both agency directors, that some Montessori schools work with ALL ability levels of Russian adoptees. The Montessori personnel seem to be so aware of all educational opportunities for all types of children all over the country, etc. They also worked with my kiddo’s pull-ups dillema such as you mention. They were so kind and non-judgemental. There biggest challenge were her behaviors, where significant progress was made. It would be the ideal environment for her to be back in. Once again, your supportive hubby is wonderful to read about. My situation is quite the opposite. Why the court supports it – there still seems to be extreme discrimination toward adoptees in this area of the country. Also, there is a type of culture of the 1950s or so here. I was chuckling about some of your small town antics, with the school district there, and their views, etc. It could be the exact same small town I’m in here.

        If nothing else, even though you’ve identified schools for your son, and likely are the fit, the Montessori closest to you may have some additional advice about your son, that you might be surprised or not to find. They are a very enlightened group, and truly do care for the children as if in a home school setting.

        I keep circling back to the idea of an attorney for your family to insist on the placement of Peter in an appropriate facility, with the tuition paid to that facility, rather than the public school district. It would sure bring peace in that you mention can’t keep living this way. I agree. My heart goes out to you and your family. If you ever want to chat, my email is listed. The course I took at university on special needs kids is what educated me a bit on what laws are there to protect our kiddos. If only my ex would see the reality of our child being special needs, and not keep attempting to mainstream her in the public school district. It’s just so stressful my daughter. But, I’ll keep trying for that peace, just like you. Good luck Mary.

        Comment by Lori — May 4, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  2. Well, if you’re going to let the school do whatever it is that they think they’re going to do with the potty situation, then, by all means, don’t make it easy for them and put him in pullups-Make sure you send him in regular underwear every day!

    Comment by elizabeth — May 1, 2010 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  3. I attended the big Christian Alliance for Orphans summit in Minneapolis this past week, where Dr. Karyn Purvis was a featured speaker. I wondered if you were familiar with her work, and if so, what you think of her take on helping children who come “from hard places”?
    (see link below)

    Comment by goldendragonboy — May 3, 2010 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  4. You know your son and the reason for his accidents better than anyone. So I hesitated to add this comment. But I finally decided it might be helpful to share our experience with our FAS son. We tried multiple unsuccessful strategies to help our son become toilet-trained. He wanted to earn the rewards and so like Peter, he would hide the evidence. But in our case, rewards/consequences ultimately couldn’t work because it was out of his control. He did not feel the need to urinate. Sometimes he was aware of it, which fooled us into thinking he had some control. And he could urinate when consciously trying to empty his bladder. But we finally realized that most of the time he was not aware when his bladder was full and overflowing. We eventually made it a non-issue. We simply put him in pull-ups full-time and tried to keep him as dry as possible by using a voiding schedule and reminding him to use the bathroom at fixed intervals. Finally when he was 10 years old, over a 6-8 week period, I noticed that he was dry more and more often. Eventually, he was dry most of the time. I have no idea what changed in his body, but he started to feel the urge to urinate. And once he did, he responded by using the bathroom. No big announcement from him. No fanfare from us. We just eventually replaced the pull-ups with underwear and he’s had only occasional accidents since that time.

    Comment by Ann — May 4, 2010 @ 2:19 am | Reply

  5. Ann mentions something very interesting. With my little one, one doctor suggested the pull-up dillema was due to her body developing slower than maybe waht might be viewed as a ‘typical’ child. Sure enough, about the time she was finally dry, it seemed most of her compromised immune system issues were under control. I hope it’s just a matter of time with Peter. I’m sure he’s healthy. But it is really tough to know if the body is fully developed enough, neurological and physical, for the connection to be made that Peter may know its time to run off to the little boys room. Sure hope you see it happen. Wouldn’t that just be the wonder of it all? 🙂

    Comment by Lori — May 6, 2010 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

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