I enrol Nayla in open gym. The general idea of open gym is me pretending to be a gym teacher, in front of 30 other moms who pretend to be gym teachers (but unlike me, they look like they could be).
I decide to ignore the blackboards at the front door. Way too scary:
> Quote of the week of the 20th March 2015: work until your idols become your rivals (with the drawing of a little dove that says “never give up”).
> Quote of the week of the 6th June 2015: “it’s OK to try and fail, but it’s not OK to fail to try” (with the drawing of Jaws, I still don’t get the metaphor).
So Nayla starts jumping on the trampoline like a disgraceful gremlin. Turns out she loves it. Most of all, she loves lying on the trampoline and undulating while the other kids are jumping.
The gym employee looks at Nayla and I . That look is despising. I decide to despise him back, because:
> His jobs consists in screaming every five minutes ‘all right kids, let’s take turns’ and try to catch Leo who won’t take turns and keeps on jumping on the trampo.
> He visibly eats too much carbs or whatever stupid powdered diet.
Nayla goes on doing nothing at open gym. I decide that she is a dreamer. Truth is, she reminds me of me when I was in high school, while I was sitting stupidly for hours at the substitute bench while the others were playing volleyball.
Summary of the last episodes: little Nayla has stopped pooping because her whole world is upside down. Her parents are concerned, but helpless.
At the park, I meet another European mother. Because Nayla is wriggling all around, I have to explain her the concept of moving and pooping (I love those very embarrassing moments where you meet someone, preferably chic and posh, and you have to start a whole conversation about your daughter who stopped pooping since you moved to the US and who, right now, both wants to poop and doesn’t want to poop).
She sighs and says “oh well you know, when we moved, Martin was so anxious that he starting bitting all the other kids at the park. The parents were not all understanding”.
I have also meet another mother. Her son hasn’t slept since they moved here (apparently, he is really running all night, but really all night in his room). She looks like she is going to jump out of the window right now.
I am thinking about a top 3 “most imaginative kids as regards how to fuck up their parents’ life”.
And I am thinking about all the people in Europe who kept telling me “it’s going to be all right. Kids adjust SO fast”. I want to bite them.
I go to a cooking class for kids. My neighbour runs a company that does them and my neighbour is very cool. But this helps me realise that my whole education is probably a gigantic failure.
So I meet Jim’s mom and she tells me about her son. Jim is six months old. He goes to a music class and to a swim class. According to his mom, Jim kind of likes swimming, but his relationship to music is unstable. Sometimes he enjoys it; sometimes he is not really focused. Jim is an unpredictable guy (I suspect his mother also fears he is bipolar, but she mentions nothing about it).
But as Jim’s mom wisely says, “well they have to go to all those classes anyway, otherwise how will they ever develop”?
Abysmal mystery indeed …
We thought we had been good-enough parents. We had bought Nayla tons of books with a subtle under-text. Like “Jerry moves abroad, learns a new language, changes friends and nanny and gets a new baby brother or sister. Jerry is very happy”.
But it turned out Nayla didn’t enjoy shifting her whole world.
Unfortunately, Nayla is the type of kids who embodies perfectly german expressionist movies: she is silent, but scary.
So one day, Nayla simply decided to stop pooping.
For the first two days, we thought of it as something funny. Less diapers to change. Plus, I had just had had Charlotte, and I was so exhausted that the bare word “poop” made me laugh stupidly. So whenever friends were coming over, we just explained the situation and laughed at Nayla’s huge willpower.
But after four days of watching her serene constipation, we started freaking out. At that point, we also made the typical mistake: we looked it up on the internet. It was terrifying. A long list of desperate moms who had dealt with the problem for years and were still stuck with disgusting poop-stories and laxatives at breakfast. And most of them seemed to be imploring their kid to make duty by saying things like “give me your little present my love”.
Nayla kept answering “nope, nope. No pooping” to our increasingly anxious questions, like this did not concern her.
So we just decided to bravely address the issue. We just didn’t know how much courage we would need.
So dozens of visits to the pediatrician. And dozens of prescriptions for “lax” medicine (lax as in “laxatives”, guys). Forlax, microlax, then by their american cousin, miralax.
And everything we tried just failed.
1/ we tried pretending not to care when she didn’t go to the bathroom for days even though she was on laxative treatment (with adult dosage). We screwed up that one because everything in us kept screaming “NAYLA YOU GO POOP NOOOW”. We also screwed it up because every time she said “poop” we were jumping and dancing of excitement, which she ended up noticing and taking advantage of.
2/ we tried removing the diapers, and washing kilometers of poop she would end up doing once every three days – and which we had to hand-wash in the sink.
3/ disgusted, we put the diapers back on, and were able to notice that yes, she was only pooping once every three days (with scary screams)
4/ we talked to people who had faced that kind of experience. And then we always ended up the conversation abruptly because it was way too scary: in all cases, it had lasted for several years, and it had been a total nightmare. And in most cases, the parents had no idea why it suddenly stopped.
5/ we tried asking (more like begging) for advice from our parents. My mom, in a “poop or die” typical mode (“you leave her on the potty there until she does it, even if it has to last for three days”). My husband’s mom, in a no less typical slightly-disgusting-attempt-to-empathize (“you know my love, I do poop too”)
6/ back to square one, we had her eat spoons and bottles of laxatives, day after day after day after day
7/ we tried pretending it was a health issue and not a psychological one (this was the husband, I was strongly against it). So after looking it up and exchanging digesting texts with a friend who is a paediatrician, he figured Nayla had an anal fissure and bought a cream for that purpose. This was too disgusting and when he finally admitted it I trashed the cream tube.
8/ psychology, lesson 1: poop nazism (YOU POOP NOW OR YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM)
9/ psychology, lesson 2: (following long hour of reading psychology books for kids): just hug her and tell her we love her. Nice try, but not enough.
10/ and of course, my own personal favorite: the attempted trade “one chocolate against one duty”. And Nayla, at three o’clock in the morning when her exhausted body had finally pooped against her will, opened an eye and said “and now, chocolate”
So that’s it. I belong to this sorority of poop moms. My name is X, and my daughter Nayla has been constipated for seven months.