Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Draining the Girls

My parents’ six children came in sets of twos during the 40’s and 50’s. I’m not sure what potty training method they used on the oldest set, but on my set and the younger set, they called it “draining the girls. At least that’s what my father called it.

Before we all piled into the car to go on any trip or excursion, daddy would loudly proclaim, “It’s time to drain the girls!” Like a drill sergeant, he’d march us into the potty and we had to “go” before we could get into the car.

My own drainage challenges were exquisitely painful because I still wet the bed at age eight. My mother held me responsible for causing her extra work and successfully inoculated me with horrible guilt by complaining,” I have to work all night long at the hospital and then come home and wash your wet sheets!” And in a tone full of hurt, she’d add, “You should be more considerate!”

I tried to be more considerate but I just couldn’t seem to wake myself up during the night. Even though my father would get me up at 10:00 o’clock, after I was in a deep sleep, it still didn’t help. I’d be wet again before morning.

One night my dear older cousin Peggy took me to stay with her at a friend’s house and we had a special prayer, asking Father in heaven to “please help me not to wet the Hoit’s bed.” It worked that time! But nothing else worked until mother and daddy heard about a special electronic bedwetting device that my aunt had successfully used.

The machine scared me to death! It consisted of a metallic-like pad, connected by several clamps to a loud, ear-splitting alarm. Whenever the sensor detected fluid, it was supposed to sound the alarm.

The first night I lay awake terrified that this metallic monster was going to go off. The whole household would know! The whole neighborhood would know! I might have been lying on the proverbial pins and needles for the horror that I felt.

Finally, I could stay awake no longer and drifted off to sleep, only to be awakened by the screaming alarm. Dad rushed in, wearing his white winter long johns, jerked me out of bed and plunked me down on the potty. For the life of me, I couldn’t go.

It was a false alarm. Seems I had just turned over and leaned on one of the clamps, causing the alarm to go off. That incident was enough to shock me into sleeping lighter from then on and I never wet the bed again. I had learned the fine art of draining and my parents had a reprieve until the last set of children came along.

Fortunately for my own four children, I learned what not to do as a parent from my own experiences. When my daughter was four years old and immersed in play, she’d wait until the very last minute before making the long trek to the bathroom. She’d cross her legs and sort of bend in half and say, “Oh, mommy, I have to go to the bathroom but I don’t want to!” I could thoroughly understand her feelings of not wanting to interrupt her playtime.

My son was still wetting the bed at age seven but I resisted purchasing a metallic monster for him. It seemed like there must be a better way and I was going to do my best to find one that suited him. At the very least, I worked at not putting any guilt on him because I knew he didn’t like wetting even more that I didn’t like the extra washing chore.

One morning I had a golden opportunity when my son exclaimed, “Mom, God is not answering my prayers.” When I asked why he thought that, he knowingly replied, “Because I prayed last night that God would help me not to wet the bed and it didn’t work. I wet again!”

“Have you considered asking a different prayer?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he responded.
“Well, instead of asking Him to help you not to wet the bed, what about asking him to help you wake up when you have to go? And tell you what…as soon as you wake up, just call out to me and I’ll be ready to jump right up and help you down from your bunk. I’ll wait for you to go and then help you back up.”
“Okay, let’s try it,” he agreed.

That night my son called about 2:00 a.m. and I jumped right up and did just as I promised. The next morning he came running into my bedroom to excitedly announce, “Mom, it worked! God answered my prayer!”

The next night we repeated the same procedure, with me jumping up to help him. He was again successful. By the third night, he whispered to me, “I think I can do it by myself now, mom.” And he did.

The Doctor's Comments:
It's best to teach correct principles and our children will learn to govern themselves. The word "discipline" really means providing an experience that results in a worthwhile change in behavior.

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