This is Eli

A blog about Eli. A blog about survival – and by that, I mean life!

How do ya get your kid to stop going in his pants?

Life, for the last several months, has been a race, often a losing one, to the porcelain throne. Getting Eli there on time is what we think about first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We request daily accident reports from his preschool. We stock his cubby there with ‘just-in-case’ back-up Minions knickers.

Even as an alleged mom blogger, (I consider this my survival space. Maybe that’s why so many doomsday preppers follow me on Twitter?) I was going to skip writing about the process.

Who wants to hear about your kid’s pee pee n bowel movements, people?

Answer: No one.

Then my pal B. caught me in the preschool hallway with questions: Is Eli potty trained yet? And…did his CF make going through it worse?

She is another parent of a child with cystic fibrosis, a sweet little cherub a year younger than Eli.

I’m going to digress for a moment

I digress to air my roiling insecurities

I disappeared for a while from this space online. In part, it’s because we’ve been busy launching protests and mailing T-shirts, vacationing and enjoying life.

Rather than writing I’ve been torturing myself as of late. That’s what we writers do best! Should I write here about Eli at all? He’s getting bigger, talking to us and telling us about his thoughts, which entail questions like: “Mommy, why do we have chins? What’s a chin for?”

I never asked him if he wanted to be blogged about. I just did it, and it was a completely selfish act. Note the use of *I* . As in *I* was at his hospital bedside. *I* was losing my mind. *I* couldn’t keep track of anything. *I* was trying to throw up my reporter wall and detach from the facts – my son needed emergency surgery. My son has a fatal disease (NEWS FLASH: You can’t detach from facts about your child).

Should I write about Eli the lionhearted just because he inspires me so?

Eli the lionhearted

What about Eli? He is the namesake of this space.  What started out as clacking out chaos on my keyboard has evolved into a place where I let people know that while CF changes things, our lives aren’t consumed 24/7 with disease and hospital visits. He’s changing us all, and for the better.

And still…That squishy little baby I birthed in a glamorous and drug-addled labor never asked for his disease nor for his mom to write about him. Now that he’s less of a baby and more like a real human that’s been on my mind.

A few fully-grown contributors to a site for people with disabilities called The Mighty have expressed a good amount of disgust for parents like me, parents  who write so freely about their children’s deeply personal health issues. Other contributors took more of an issue with the fact the site carried  too many parent bloggers and not enough people writing from the front lines of disability in adulthood.  I’m not even comfortable, by the way, calling CF a disability. Is a chronic illness the same as a disability? It can be. It isn’t now for Eli. I don’t actually know the answer to that.

Then this week I read a column by a mom blogger with healthy children who gave writing up for the very reasons I just feared would hurt Eli some day – it was all about her and she was violating the privacy of her children.

OK – back to the hallway and the questions from the other mom.

Poo inquiry invigorates mom blogger, justifies existence

I run into B. and she asks me a question she’d wondered about – how is potty training going for Eli?

She was stressing. Her buddy’s two-and-a-half and resisting every effort to get him out of his diaper.

The CF causes digestion problems, among them, lots of poo, because CF kids don’t absorb all of their nutrition. Eli eats more calories than I do in day to compensate.

She wondered: Is this going to be worse for us? Does this resistance have something to do with his disease?

Her question – about poo!- made me want to start writing again, for now, even as my insecurities continue to swirl, as they always do!

Other parents are out there raising wonderful kids who happen to have this disease. When standard kid milestones roll around, we worry whether roadblocks are regular kid stuff or disease stuff.

Like– Eli got the stomach flu the other week, didn’t poo for 12 hours, and I was convinced we were about to go to the ER because his bowel was blocked like it was at birth and that’s why he was throwing up. I just knew it.


Then he put my theory to rest. IN A DIAPER. BY A LOT. He really just had the stomach flu. And then we all got the stomach flu. A family outbreak, just as it should be!

The thought I could help ease other parents’ fears and insecurities  -even if it’s about poo – gave me the courage to continue – though this might be the last time I ever talk about his waste management systems.

Dunno. It’s like, reporters who think they’re above being vultures are kidding themselves. There is an exploitative nature to what we do.  You have to accept it and if you have a soul make peace with Yaweh, Thor, JHC, Ben Franklin etc. etc. whomever that you’ve done what you can to minimize the harm. Same goes for mommy bloggers. Same goes for me.

I finally get to the point of this blog: How to potty train like a lazy-ass

Anyway, in response to her original question – How did it go for us? – I said “Don’t worry about it. We got Eli potty trained a month ago.”

Eli is three years and seven months old, everyone!

Here’s how we potty trained him.

One day he informed me that I should be wiping his bum in a counterclockwise, rather than clockwise, motion.

The streak of resolve hit like a bolt of lightning: I’m. Done. Here.

I took away his pull-ups and put him in underwear.

Not just any underwear, but glorious Minions and Legos underwear he picked out himself at Target.

“Eli, don’t go poo or pee in these. Your glorious Minions and Legos will get thrown away if you ruin them.”

He immediately peed all over his Minions and I made a big, mean mommy production of throwing them in the trash.

“You’ve ruined your Minions!”

He screamed bloody murder and tossed himself on the ground.


(I later moved like a Ninja to pluck them out of the trash and put them in the wash. Those cartoon underwear are expensive, ppl!)

We kept putting him in underwear and putting him on the potty as much as we could. Before we went out, when we got home. We talked potty. We ready about the potty. He resisted and we repeatedly explained that going on the toilet is not a punishment.

“Everybody does it,” I told him. “Even the Queen of England!”

He made fast progress during the month of June. He had no accidents during a 10-hour car ride! Then came the backslide. As soon as we put him back into preschool, he revenge pooed and peed.

Hey, mom and dad. I may not have any say over my vacation ending, but I can poo all over you powerless grown-ups. Mwaaahahahahhah!

We are mere pawns, ya’ll. Mere pawns.

Luckily, the accidents and backsliding have waned. I’d call him 90 percent trained up, because he is still in a diaper overnight. During waking hours, he’s a lot more keen on the toilet these days and runs to it without a prompt.

The CF factor

And to answer B.’s other original question, I didn’t feel like potty training him any harder than potty training my daughter, who doesn’t have his disease. I note that she was full-on trained at 2.5, mostly due to the incredible talent and attention of a single day care worker. Also, Mark is a teacher and home for the summer. He let her run around bare bummed and with shoes on thanks to the suggestion of a family friend (Hi, Ann!). Kids hate peeing on their shoes. Crocs, by the way. Go ahead and go on those Crocs.

We didn’t bother to get going on the pot with Eli in part due to lack of interest on his part and in part because he already does a lot of care related to his other health issues. We let this one slide until we couldn’t take it any more. Kind of like we let him sleep in his  cage crib until the side of it broke three months ago while I was changing the sheets.

Eli wears a shaking vest for an hour a day that jars his guts, and he tells us during that session whether or not he needs to run to the pot.


Theory: He’s more in tune with what his guts are up to than a kid without a health issue.

Girl v. boy factor

My thought is Laila got potty training earlier because it’s a “girls get it earlier” thing. I have no evidence to back me besides my own kids and mom rumors.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

In conclusion

Potty training is a pain-in-the-ass of a milestone for parental units, but it sure beats buying diapers.


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