It starts when they are small. We begin to tell our children how “big” they are. The first time they find their fingers, hold their head up, roll over, sleep through the night, crawl, walk, and the big one…using the potty, we proudly exclaim, “You’re so big!” I’m not exactly sure why parents feel the need to tell their children this simple statement, but I do know that our children learn something every time we repeat it. Accomplishing tasks makes me “big” or a “big kid.” This must mean that if I cannot manage a task then I have failed and am not a “big kid.” Of course, their goal is to please their parents and to earn praise. What happens though when the child fails to accomplish a task?
Braden struggles with urinary incontinence. He simply cannot hold his bladder and has flat our given up on even trying. This means he must wear a pull up, and abandon the “big boy underwear.” Please know, that we don’t call them that in our house. He does not use the potty to pee like a “big boy.” Seeing a theme here? As a society, we drill this big boy image into our children’s heads. So now I have a child who does not feel “big.” I spend countless hours trying to convince my child that he is “big” for reasons that have nothing to do with what he wears on hit bottom or how he removes waste from his body. *sigh* It’s hard to undo all that has been done. I remind him that he knows his ABCs, can count, knows knock knock jokes, goes to school, and can do all kinds of things! He’s also smart, witty, and caring. Those are the things that make him “big.” This message has to be repeated routinely, and we’re still working on getting it across.
We recently tried a cloth underwear for Braden, and it was a big fat failure. They held 7 ounces of fluid plus and additional 10 with an absorbent insert. Within two hours he had blown through them and peed his pants. It’s truly amazing how much urine this child produces! So, unfortunately our only options at this moment is a pull up. He is not old enough for the other options for urine collection that are available. He is also not a candidate for any medication as the side effect is constipation, and we are already dealing with that. As a note, if we fix the constipation, we are then faced with fecal incontinence as a neurological side effect of his condition. That’s our current house of cards. A child who wants to feel “big” while being forced into what society deems as not. Trust me when I say they don’t look at your child as a “big kid” and as a failure of a parent when they glimpse your nearly five-year olds pull up peeking out from under his clothes. I can see what you are thinking written all over your face. It hurts me. It hurts my son. Please think twice before you continually tell your child how “big” they are. Remember there are numerous reasons a child may need extended pull up usage and try not to judge.