The Many Trials of MeToo, Part 3: The Naked Carseat

Thanks to our practice of using Elimination Communication MeToo has been essentially potty trained for, lo, these many months. Sort of. She’s only two years old — and newly two — so there are accidents. In fact, sometimes it seems as though we go through phases where she has lots of accidents, and we’ve had quite a few recently.

It’s normal for there to be some regression in a toddler when there’s a new baby in the household, so that may be some of it. Our chiropractor has put an end to more than one series of pants-wettings, informing us that they can sometimes be caused by MeToo’s frequent spills and tumbles knocking her out of alignment. She still wears a diaper overnight, so if she doses off (in the car, let’s say) then she might go in her sleep. She can also just get out of the habit if you let her. There’s an hourly play-care place that we will probably stop taking the girls to because after MeToo wet herself there several times, they seem to have just started putting her in pull-ups as soon as she gets dropped off.

Even now, it’s important to stay consistent with taking her potty, regardless of any cues from her or lack thereof. MeToo doesn’t make it easy on us because isn’t consistent with giving us warning and she’s taken to saying she needs to go potty when she just wants to get out of her carseat or down from her highchair for a minute. Just to complicate things even further, sometimes she will say she has to potty, then just play around (or immediately say she’s done) even though she really does need to pee. It’s like she’s just setting you up for when she says she has to go again not five minutes later — if you don’t take her she might wet herself but if you do take her and she’s just messing with you, then you’ve reinforced the idea that the “phony pee-pee” gambit works.

Whatever the case, MeToo created a nightmare of urination on our previous vacation, when we drove down to Disney. [Cue flashback.] Unlike some long car trips we’d taken in the past, we decided that we wouldn’t put a diaper on her while she was in her carseat, lest she get lazy and just start going whenever she felt like it. All too soon, however, she had begun to wet herself and her carseat. It seemed as though she couldn’t sense when she needed to pee ahead of time; she would only say “Gotta go potty!” right when it was happening. With a wet MeToo and, worse, a wet carseat the van soon smelled like a rolling latrine.

The urine really hit the van, though, once we’d made it to where we were staying in Florida and MeToo continued to have “accidents.” It was as if she’d forgotten how to go in a toilet. I’d put her on and she’d giggle and wriggle and say she was all done even though nothing had happened, then be wet not ten minutes later. Finally, on a day when the girls were being particularly wild in the room, running around and yelling like crazy, MeToo ran into the shower and peed herself with her pajamas on. Now that was deliberate. And once MeToo had lost her pee, the Wife lost her shit.

The Wife hauled MeToo out of the shower and explained to her — in the way that Gunnery Sergeant Hartman would explain to a slovenly new recruit exactly what’s wrong with every facet of his existence — that only babies go potty in their clothes. Big girls like MeToo potty in the potty. Not on the floor. Not in the carseat. Not in the stroller. If MeToo was going to wet herself like a baby, then she would be treated like a baby. Babies don’t get chocolate milk. Babies wear diapers all the time. Did MeToo want to be a baby? Or was she going to stop having accidents and go in the potty like a big girl? [End flashback.]

It worked. MeToo shaped up.

Until this trip.

She went in her carseat on the airplane. We were able to wash it the next evening at the hotel, but after the second day of our trip we moved to another hotel for the rest of the stay in Tucson that didn’t have laundry facilities. Obviously, MeToo made a mess in her carseat a few more times. We washed her seat cover and yuck clothes while visiting at a friend’s house. The Wife did some washing at two — count ‘em, two — different laundromats in the Tucson area. For those keeping score at home, this is the number of times we washed MeToo’s carseat, not the number of accidents she had. Not even the number of accidents she had in the seat. This was all in the space of a week.

In case you’ve never had to wash a carseat cover before, allow me to explain the process. First, you have to remove the thing from the carseat frame. This is a difficult procedure for every model of seat I’ve encountered. For the one we had her in on this trip, it involves unhooking the straps from the back, then unthreading them through the seat and cover, twice. You can’t just pull the cover up off the buckle; instead, you must reach underneath and fiddle around until you can slip the buckle off the seat entirely (don’t lose that). None of these operations are actually possible with the seat fully installed — at least, not by me in the space we had in that van, not without some bodily injury.

Having removed the seat cover, washing it is nothing special. It’s got to air-dry, though, which takes about a day. As if a day without a useable carseat is no biggie (actually, the dry air where we were helped quite a bit here). Then you’ve got to put the seat back on, which not only involves reversing all of the above steps but also probably requires you to turn the seat upside down to fish out the thingee the shoulder straps have to reattach to.

Of course, the whole ensemble isn’t really clean until you’ve rinsed and squeezed out the foam rubber pad under the seat cover. It’s been soaking up all that toddler urine like an unhappy sponge. That’s a piece you absolutely have to wash by hand — careful, it’s easy to tear if you twist it — and takes forever to dry.

Now, imagine trying to do that every other day while on a vacation that requires daily road trips.

Having done said imagining, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that by the time we flew to San Antonio, the cover wasn’t even on the seat. In fact, MeToo’s carseat probably spent more time in Texas uncovered than not. We had a changing pad for baby Z that we put over the foam rubber piece — never had time to even attempt washing that. MeToo never complained about it being uncomfortable. Come to think of it, I don’t think she ever had an accident in the seat while it was like that, either.

We did end up washing the cover a couple of times in Texas, but after the last time I still didn’t put it back on until we were headed to the airport for the flight home.

The seat was wet again within five minutes.

"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen..."
“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”