It's funny how well people can adapt to their environment. Living with a child with various apraxias, motor planning problems, and balance issues has shown me just how much a human can compensate for missing or limited skill sets. On the whole, it's pretty amazing.
And then there are the times when that compensation has got to be redirected. On the double.
Due to his vestibular dysfunctions and delayed motor skills, The Boy has a lot of trouble dressing himself. In other words, I still dress him. He manages to pull his pants up, but he has trouble getting them on his legs in the first place. And forget about the shirt. If he had to dress himself, he would look like Tarzan. We'll get there, but right now, I am his right and left hand woman. His valet, if you will.
Another side effect of his motor planning problems, is his tendency to repeat a successful pattern of behavior FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN. Once he accomplishes a task that seemed insurmountable, he will not forsake his method, despite evidence that another way might work just as well - or, gasp, even better. He clings to his method like a little life boat.
All of this is to say that his potty-time life boat has got to be set adrift if he ever hopes to thrive socially. I used to worry that he would not be able to get his pants off in enough time to use the toilet, but that's all small potatoes compared to the routine that he has embraced. The Strip and Whip, as I've come to think of it.
Here's an example of how it all goes down (ha!): Last night, The Boy was playing, annoying his sisters, and breaking stuff until he stopped, clutched his crotch, and announced, "I've got to use the potty." (All still fairly acceptable, although I could do without the royal pronouncements before assuming the throne. Double ha!) Apparently, he had more pressing matters to attend, because he did not make his pit stop at the time of the announcement. Instead, he settled down on the couch with a pilfered copy of his sister's Ranger Rick. Rob and I, still talking over our empty dinner plates, practically heard his bladder reach critical mass. He yelled, "Bathroom," one time and by the time we turned around, he was in full Strip and Whip mode. He rolled off of the sofa, wrenched his pants down to his ankles and began to pull a Charlie Chaplin all the way to the downstairs bathroom. He waddled through the dining room, to the kitchen and finally to the bathroom, all with his pants at his ankles, holding himself straight out like a compass needle pointing to the toilet.
Since he never closes the door, we could hear him aim with accuracy as he crowed, "I made it!" But he wasn't about to stop there, no sir. "I have to poop!" he cried as he ran from the downstairs bathroom to the hall bathroom upstairs. See, he doesn't poop downstairs. Ever. There is no difference between the upstairs toilet and the downstairs toilet, but he always poops upstairs. Period. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Meanwhile, Rob and I resumed our conversation while Baby Girl crawled into the dining room with the waistband of her brother's underwear between her teeth. We watched her scoot happily under the table, where she sat and tried to put his underwear on her head. He had left his pants and underwear at the downstairs bathroom door because he never poops with his pants around his ankles. Ever. He sits down and then shakes the pants from his legs, like the fetters to proper pooping that they are. Naked from the waist down is the only way to go.
The Strip and Whip has become so ingrained in The Boy, that we just absorbed the routine ourselves. We don't bat an eye when he makes his way to the bathroom with his pants already down, or when we have to flush multiple toilets. We've adapted to his compensations, and in the privacy of our home, we're still fine with his methods. But lately, I've been starting to contemplate the situations where his method may not be entirely appreciated. His teachers may have another idea about bathroom preparedness, as will his wife (unless she's into that kind of thing). I think the days of the Strip and Whip are numbered. Until then, we'll just carry on.