Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I can't keep an egg timer in this house. It doesn't matter what kind I get , they all go missing. Little hands pass by the island in my kitchen where the timer sits, and they swipe it. The next thing you know, it has been turned to the point where it is useless, or it is fighting some losing Pokemon battle and being broken to pieces.

Below is a picture of the one I got a couple weeks ago. I figured I was just asking for it to be taken. After all, doesn't it say "come hither" to you? So far, it hasn't been taken, and I sure am glad about that, because yesterday, I used it to put my nearly ten-year-old son back on a toilet training schedule.

Yesterday, that simple egg timer gave me a glimpse of the little boy that I haven't seen in a very long time.

During Spring Break, when our son was on a trial of new medicine which upset his gastric system, he experienced diarrhea that he couldn't control. For a week, I was cleaning BMs all over my house. It didn't help matters that this occurred during a break from school, which is a time when our son's toileting skills naturally regress, anyway. Suffice it to say, things around here have been pretty messy.

There was an accident I distinctly remember a number of weeks ago--messy, on our hallway carpet, all through his clothes, his feet, his body--that served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. We had a kind res-hab worker there helping us, and I just saw a look on his face that said he was sick of the messes, sick of being naked in front of strangers, sick of not making it to the toilet--in short, sick of having no control over his dignity.

He got MAD. And, he got SAD. He cried, and he CRIED. What a terrible position to be in. We tried to tell him that accidents happen and that it was all okay, but, no, it was not okay to him. I'm sure he notices that he is the only person who has THOSE kinds of accidents. So, there he finds himself, alone with a hurt tummy and a bruised ego.

The next thing I knew, he started refusing to go to the bathroom. Cries of depression have been also mixed with cries of pain as his GI system became painfully backed up with waste. Nonverbal and highly anxious about making a mess with his toileting, he had no way to quell his fears, so he just stopped going to the bathroom.

When I finally realized what he was doing, I forced him into the bathroom. He fought me. I urged him to continue. I sat him down, and I held him there. When he started to go, he nervously stood and flushed the toilet, afraid to actually let it happen.

"Five more minutes and then we will try again," I said to him. And so I sat with him on the couch while he cried until our five minutes was up, and we made another trip to the bathroom.

After many trips like this, we were able to empty out his system, and I said to him, "I know that you don't want to make a mess anymore. I understand." He was not looking at me. "So how about instead of holding it to prevent a mess, we just set the egg timer to remind us that it is time to take you into the bathroom and check to see if you need to go. That way nothing will sneak up on you when you can't control it."

He looked at me and softly kissed my cheek.

"It's a deal," I told him. I was proud of this moment. "I'll call your school in the morning and work out a similar routine with them. At home and at school, we will make sure that you have a safe person take you so that you aren't having to go to the bathroom with every person who walks through this house. We will remember to respect your dignity."

Out came the egg timer after school. Every 45 minutes, my nine-year-old and I quietly walked into the bathroom and worked through his toileting fears behind closed doors. It worked every time, and he would emerge with a smile and begin to play in a way that I haven't seen in a long time. No tears. No crying.


This event was an eye opener for me. He's nonverbal, not inhuman. And, I think this is a lesson that can be applied to typical kids as well. Just because our children are small doesn't mean that they are somehow less important.

I don't know whether to kiss that egg timer or to get it bronzed! It certainly has been raised to a status of importance in our house. I hope it manages to stick around a bit longer than some of the others



  1. Wow! What a blessing you are to your son!

  2. I'd pop that timer out of harms way. It certainly seemed to be in the right place at the right time and I reckon it deserves better than to be electrified by Pikachu :)) I love this post. It was straight from the heart and makes such an important point. Every human being deserves a chance at dignity, no matter how old... or young. *hugs*

  3. Lovely blog, thanks for sharing, and I'm glad you got the pic sorted - he's a very photogenic little egg-timer :-)

  4. I loved that he kissed me. We are only now getting such back-and-for communication. Love that!

    Can't move that pic. Looks like it is staying there. I have a headache. lol!!

  5. Love you, Amy, and this blog!!!

    Always presume intellect, or in this case, dignity!


  6. Ann, thank you for honoring me with your constant support!

    What Trey reminded me this week is that I need to ALWAYS assume intellect AND dignity.

  7. There's nothing I can add here but oh my goodness, you do make me think. Just lovely that he kissed you too.