petite anglaise

May 24, 2006


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:55 pm

Tadpole makes a bee-line for the scales, and has to be hoisted forcibly into a chair by my side. She fiddles with a huge tome on the table in front of her. The doctor, visibly stressed, barks “don’t touch that!” with uncharacteristic sharpness.

I sigh, and begin explaining Tadpole’s little problem. I have barely finished my second sentence when Dr Freud interrupts me.

“… faudrait plutôt consulter un pédopsychiatre pour ça!”

I freeze, hackles rising. A child psychiatrist? She can’t be serious, surely?

The doctor notes my disbelief, but continues, regardless. “Well, you have been having problems of your own lately, and she could be picking up on them…”


Because what I really needed right now, apart from an anally retentive two year old who manages to hold everything in for ten whole days before I am obliged to resort to desperate measures involving suppositories, is a doctor who says that this is clearly my fault.

“I was thinking more along the lines of using a mild laxative medecine, and trying to talk to her about it myself,” I say firmly. “It’s really quite common at this age, isn’t it?”

This problem pre-dates any of mine, we simply didn’t realise how bad it had got. The point being that the nanny assumed she was going at home. Mr Frog and I assumed she was going at the nanny’s. Only when Tadpole stayed with mamie and papy for two whole weeks did the extent of Tadpole’s determination to withhold become apparent.

The doctor examines Tadpole’s tummy, seeming satisfied that she is not in any pain. She hands me a prescription for medecine, as requested, and then a second piece of paper, upon which she has scribbled the address of the child psychiatrist.

As we leave the building, I scrunch up the paper with my free hand, and drop it into the nearest dustbin.

“Right,” I say to Tadpole. “Mummy is going to buy some Smarties. And you can have three, next time you do a poo in the potty.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures.


  1. Thank goodness I don’t have google contextual ads up right now, I dread to think what they would come up with…

    Comment by petite — May 24, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

  2. Wow, was I confused for a moment or two! You’d just mentioned Tadpole:

    “I sigh, and begin explaining Tadpole’s little problem. I have barely finished my second sentence when she interrupts me”

    and then “she”. And there was me thinking that Tadpole was suggesting a visit to the child psycologist.

    I’d’ve been surprised. And the doctor noted your disbelief too.

    Fortunately it was only momentary and I got myself back on track but for a wee while it seemed like Tadpole had grown up a few years very quickly!

    Comment by Miss Nomer — May 24, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

  3. I think it’s time the little lady had her first pint of Guinness

    Comment by andre — May 24, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  4. Actually, they make laxatives that look like chocolate don’t they? Why not feed her a nice bar of Lindt and slip her a laxative in with the good stuff.

    Growing up my parents were less diplomatic, everything was a choice between “[x] or the belt”. As in “you don’t want to drink milk? [undoes belt] do you want milk or do you want the belt?”

    Comment by homeimprovementninja — May 24, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

  5. What if Tadpole had something a child psychiatrist could help out with and that had nothing to do with you?

    psychology is not all rubbish you know…

    Comment by callipyge — May 24, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  6. I don’t know if you read’s blog but she’s had similar problems — both her own AND her toddler’s — and she’s written about it rather prolificly. I’m neither a parent nor a child psychologist but it seems to be that anal-retentiveness is pretty common and about young children trying to exercise control. Once she gets over the anal-retentiveness (and eventually, she will) then she’ll figure out some OTHER to try to get control over things. That’s just what kids seem to do.

    Try slipping her some watered-down prune juice if that’s available in Paris.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — May 24, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  7. Good for you! You clearly understand the exact combination of physical and mental encouragement your child needs!

    Sounds like the doctor who is so quick to advise a child psychiatrist for a constipated 2 year old needs to remove her “Freud for Beginners” from her own backside.

    Comment by Jude — May 24, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  8. Very funny, too!

    Comment by Jude — May 24, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  9. Maybe it is the Frog’s fault! We hear, “got a little frog in the throat?”, but maybe the frog was missplaced.

    Comment by Lost in France — May 24, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

  10. I used candy-coated chocolate pieces. One piece per pee, and yes, three for a poop, accompanied by hysterical praise for being a big, strong boy. That doctor may have gone to medical school for 32 years but obviously she’s never potty trained anyone.

    Comment by LJ — May 24, 2006 @ 10:19 pm

  11. I did realise there was a dooce connection. I nearly ended the post with “move over dooce!”, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would understand me…

    Comment by petite — May 24, 2006 @ 10:46 pm

  12. yes about the google ads…

    About the little problem, a change of diet will do the job. One of my (local) little girls was going through exactly this, and a programme of good diet & counselling to help her relax more ( not for your tadpole’s case obviously) did the job, as she took to it like a duck to water. Sometimes it’s a sign of stress and tension. Abit of attention to both stress related issues and diet usually helps. Less smarties and more of the (bleuch) roughage…sorry!
    Anything you can do to make life less stressful? x

    Comment by fjl — May 24, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

  13. Ironically, in US slang to “Drop a Deuce” means to ummm, do what tadpole is refusing to do.

    Comment by homeimprovementninja — May 24, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

  14. I swear she eats nothing but fruit and veg at the moment, and special “hepar” water, and olive oil in her veggies. Everything I can do.. And still, she manages to exercise amazing control. Even with the medecine!

    Comment by petite — May 24, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

  15. Then take a good holiday, you both. A change can be as good as a rest.

    Comment by fjl — May 24, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

  16. I agree with your decision. Sometimes its just a battle of will or in this case will not. My son and I went through the same thing. He only lasted a week; because I’m way more experienced at being stubborn.

    Comment by chantel — May 24, 2006 @ 11:13 pm

  17. Petite, I’ve been through this with my own child. When she was 13 months old her father and I split. One month later I had a baby girl who died after a few days; I spent some time in the hospital due to my own injuries and my daughter went to stay with grandparents. When we were reunited I was, understandably, pretty stressed and miserably sad at the best of times. That first translated itself into night terrors for my daughter (17 months through 20 months) and then chronic constipation for her (approx 18 months through 3 years). Her cycle ran 90 days, give or take, and if I was attuned enough to notice that her once daily (always only once, even as an infant) movement was a bit more difficult than normal, I could sometimes – not always – head it off at the pass with a teaspoon of codliver oil and no dairy for a few days. If I missed that and noticed difficult on what turned out to be the SECOND (or third) day, the only thing to do was an enema when she would finally be struggling too hard to do it on her own. Even at 24 months it required my mother holding her down and me applying said torture device to her bottom… It was horrible. At one point we thought it was a physical blockage and she underwent a barium enema. I will never forget that day or the look on her face at the beginning or end of the testing, and it was more than 10 years ago. She vividly remembers it – ‘No emma, Mama, no emma’

    I have tears in my eyes at the thought of it. It wasn’t diet. It wasn’t physical. It was a strong-willed daughter, a strong-willed mother, and a tension-filled household.

    It took me getting on my feet and us in a better place emotionally for her to give up that control; the last time it ever happened was her first day of pre-school, which she missed because there was no telling when the enema would take effect and she couldn’t be at school for that. I explained it quite matter-of-factly, and she never needed another, although she did still have a few ‘tough days’ in that regard.

    Take-away lessons: limit dairy extremely; oil in the diet is very useful, and needn’t be codliver necessarily; Fleet makes a pediatric enema if worse comes to worst; my child was affected by the extreme stresses of my life, even though she was just picking up on ‘vibrations’; I did not potty train her at all. She had complete control of bladder at 12 months, complete control of bowels at 18, but refused to use potty at all and would instead ask for diaper to be put back on for the movement period only; rather than add stress to an already contentious situation, I went with …er…the flow. Sorry. But she was still completely potty-trained by 3, and on her own terms. Relax about it…and I REALLY doubt she’s eating a fibrous diet and not moving her bowels at all for TEN DAYS and not having any pain. Any chance she’s sneaking somehow? Email me if you want.

    Comment by JoAnne — May 24, 2006 @ 11:22 pm

  18. Prunes. Or apricots.

    I agree that psychology is not all rubbish – I would, I’m a psychologist – but it seems a bit excessive for a bit of constipation!

    Comment by katie — May 24, 2006 @ 11:28 pm

  19. Hi Petite,
    My youngest was the same – 12 days was the record…the best thing we found was the Hépar water and Sémences de l’Englebert – completely natural, no side-effects at all and hugely efficient – they create ‘bulk’ and soften, well, everything that needs to be softened! In any pharmacy, not expensive and not reimbursed by the Secu, which is always reassuring as a sure sign that it works…
    Best wishes to you both.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — May 24, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

  20. There can be a great many reasons for a child’s constipation, most of which don’t involve psychoanalysis.

    Petite, (and this is just my .02 cents coming from an ex-paramedic.) if the laxatives and/or suppositories don’t work their magic, consider a return trip to a better pediatrician. You want to rule out things like impaction, and other types of blockage at the very least. (Though she would probably be more uncomfortable if that were the case.) There are also digestive motility problems that can crop up in kids her age.

    Odds are though, your approach will probably work just fine. Quick diagnostic question: Is her belly soft or hard?

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — May 24, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

  21. I use Forlax for my tribe when needs must(prescription only but very gentle) – a powder that mixes in their drink. Plus of course prune juice (from Leclerc or Atac) mixed into orange juice. When they were potty training we did lots of ‘well done’ and clapping at each achievement – now Mum & Dad get the congratulations if we’re spied on the loo! Slightly disconcerting but very funny.

    Comment by Marie — May 25, 2006 @ 12:21 am

  22. I’m with The Bold Soul – It sounds like this may be a control trip, which IS very common at Tadpoles’ age. Children (even the sweetest, most loving and charming ones)are much more perceptive,intuitive and manipulative than we as parents are willing to admit…

    She may be deliberately withholding bowel movements in order to get attention (seeing as it obviously distresses Mummy,Daddy,Mamie,Papie,Nanny,etc.
    therefore it must be Something Really Important!) or in retaliation for not getting something that she may want.

    If organic causes have been ruled out,I suggest
    attempting to relax a bit about the whole thing,
    lest it become *An Issue* with a willful three year old. Have you tried diverting her attention(and yours)by way of,say,a trip to a petting zoo to see the
    baby animals or to a library for storytelling hour?

    Anything which captures her imagination and is not food related(so as not to inadvertantly create a reliance upon food as a reward, which employs its own set of problems)may alleviate some of the stress on both of you,to the extent that her little body will begin to function normally once again.

    Comment by Belle — May 25, 2006 @ 12:25 am

  23. Try a kiné, that helped a little boy I know (massaging the tummy in the right places). Don’t wait and hope it will go away – some kids have that problem until they are 9 – 10 years old …

    Comment by Kristina — May 25, 2006 @ 12:30 am

  24. Dear Petite,

    I have enjoyed reading the blog for ages, but this is my first post. I have gone through many of the problems you have, and frequently laugh out loud when reading your blog.

    Tadpoles problem is extremely common, and your doctor needs a slap.

    The advice from other readers about changing diet and prune juice is great in the long term to prevent recurrence of tadpole’s problems, but not in the short term. The poor critter is so bunged up that it genuinely hurts. She then associates pain with going to the toilet, and doesnt want to go. Hence the escalating problem.

    You were right about her needing laxatives. Though hopefully only in the short term. She needs laxatives until she gets a proper cleanout. Something like lactulose is probably a good idea. Speak to a different GP who doesnt think they are the next Freud. You do not need a child psychotherapist/psychologist/psychiatrist. Your child just needs a poo. This is not your fault.

    I hope that my advice is of some help to you.


    Comment by John McManus — May 25, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  25. La première chose à faire est de changer de docteur. Quelle imbécile! Peut-être faudrait-il choisir un pédiatre, plutôt qu’un généraliste (qui traite la mère et la fille et confond les problèmes …)
    Ensuite, les laxatifs, oui, pour “débloquer”. Mais attention de ne pas y avoir recours trop régulièrement, pour ne pas créer une situation de dépendance (accro aux laxatifs? Oui, ça existe!)
    Mais surtout, surtout, dédramatiser. Si la minette sent qu’elle tient son monde, les yeux rivetés à ses “productions”, il est peu probable qu’elle va laisser cette chance de contrôler l’attention de tous … Comme d’autres l’ont déjà dit, c’est un phénomène assez courant à cet âge (et plus chez les petites filles que chez les petits garçons, je ne sais pas pourquoi… Plus têtues les filles?…)

    Finalement, j’aime bien l’idées des smarties. D’une certaine façon, ça minimise l’enjeu (un poo ne vaut “que” 3 bonbons), mais en même temps, ça aide sérieusement à la motivation. Bonne chance et bon courage!

    Comment by Lola — May 25, 2006 @ 3:01 am

  26. You need a different pediatrician, and you have the right idea (IMO) about proceeding from here. It’s not a psychological problem beyond the obvious fact of Being a Toddler. :)

    My twins are three-and-a-bit. DD is happy to “try” with the prospect of M&M’s as a reward, DS just wants the M&M’s and is uninterested in doing anything I want him to. They do both *go*, though — just not where I want them to. :/ It’s partly a control issue and partly a busyness issue for us; I keep reminding myself that they’ll get it before they go to college. They WILL get it before they go to college, right?

    Comment by christie — May 25, 2006 @ 3:36 am

  27. hi, sorry for my poor english but i really want to help you.
    my son had problem of anal-retentiveness when he was 2years old to 5 years old! not always very strong problem but enought to be anxious about him. at the beginning we ask to many doctors and all they say was to use laxatives but it was really a problem of will and laxatives did nothing so i try to find an other solution.
    I read some discussions about that in some forums and psychologist was some time a solution. So i ask to see a pédo-psychologue in a center named CAMSP (Centre d’Action Médico-Sociale Précoce) (you find it in any big town.) I discuss 1 hour with a very kind personn and then she ask that my son meet a psycholog every week , i don’t know exactly what they talk about, what they do, all that i know is that my son went easily to the poo after. That was not solved but my son waited less time to do and cried less when i had to do . I really think it was for him because is very anxious and also very willfull.

    Comment by cleanettte — May 25, 2006 @ 5:26 am

  28. My what alot of medics! ;-)
    I think it can be a stress thing. Make sure you’re both resting and not stressed out- and that tadpole isn’t thinking on it too much..! Should have the right effect.

    PS (always umpteen medics and few single Mums.)

    Comment by fjl — May 25, 2006 @ 5:39 am

  29. Your readers gave you some sound comments. I would advise that you get a new pediatrician because her advice to get a psychologist for a bit of constipation is nuts. Perhaps she should be getting a little help. Dave of the Lake’s comment on checking for a hard/soft belly to determine blockage is excellent. It is what is always checked first when there are constipation issues. My infant granddaughter just went 11 days before her big blowout. No psychological factors involved…just life. Keep an eye on her…keep it light…and keep watching her diet.

    Comment by Lin — May 25, 2006 @ 5:51 am

  30. Boy , does this bring back memories. I was an expat in Orléans when my daughter was born.At the age of five months , she would cry so much when put to sleep that we went to a doctor .Several times.He seriously suggested psychiatric help for her. After a visit to another doctor , different country, it turned out she had repetitive ear-infections.Within a month she had a little operation and the problem solved.

    Comment by judy — May 25, 2006 @ 6:45 am

  31. If you don’t go to see that psy, you’ll never know what he/she says.

    My aunt ignored a similar advice as my cousin had the reverse problem (wetting her bed). She wouln’t allow anybody to say she was not giving good care to her daughter. After all, a Mum knows better that all the specialists in medecine.

    That lasted till my cousin was 11. After the humiliation at the Classe Verte, the kid asked her schoolteachers to tell Mum to take her to a specialist.

    Comment by Kuri — May 25, 2006 @ 8:15 am

  32. Look out … You will have readers transferring from Jonny b if this theme carries on…

    Comment by meredic — May 25, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  33. This is normal for a 2 year old
    My daughter went through this phase (and it is a common phase, unless the majority of mothers are in need of psychiatric support)and became an expert at ‘holding back’, desperate measures failed, eventually she just decided that if the puppy did it (and boy, did the puppy do it!) it couldn’t be so bad after all

    Comment by Julia — May 25, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  34. Just give her a small dose of Kronenbourg, it may turn her droppings a slightly abnormal colour but she won’t be able to hold it in :-P

    Comment by Lee — May 25, 2006 @ 10:24 am

  35. My third child had this problem and the primary cause seemed not to be a negative issue at all: she just didn’t want to take a break from all the interesting things she was doing! Tadpole sounds like a happy, busy, interested child to me; she may just need to learn to take ‘time out’, to be reassured that all the interesting things she likes to do (such as exploring the doctor’s scales and books…)are going to be waiting and available to her when she is finished with her time in the loo.

    Comment by Frieda — May 25, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  36. have u tried a few too many of those jelly vitamins for kids? they have a laxative effect. I’m sure its not that bad. so long as she isnt either in pain or losing weight (like she wasnt eating enough) i’m sure it’ll… um… make its way out

    Comment by piu piu — May 25, 2006 @ 10:52 am

  37. Ah, the joy of strong willed two year olds. Each will find a way to express their will. We had one who was the complete opposite and rufused to get things “under control” until he was three.

    Advice is free, and you’ve had a lot. I’d say you’re doing the right thing, but the number one thing is to keep it relaxed and that means you too. If it becomes an issue, then it just makes it worse. Don’t blame yourself for how it started, it just did and she’s too. Now the trick is to keep blame out of it!

    Comment by BoyOnTop — May 25, 2006 @ 11:03 am

  38. 1.34 am

    “Mummy! I did a poo! In my nappy!” (She wears one in bed, as I have not yet purchased a matress cover)

    Tadpole seemed very pleased with herself, even more so when she got her three midnight smarties.

    I’m confident we will beat this!

    Comment by petite — May 25, 2006 @ 11:32 am

  39. hello you,

    My daughter suffered this problem for a brief period, the problem is that if they hold in too long the poo turns hard and bungs up so that when it is passed it hurts and can cause anal fissures…the poo is then associated with pain and the fun begins.

    To help my daughter we all started talking about poo in our house, if I was going I would interupt our game, tell her I need to poo and then go, sometimes she would follow me and I would take the opportunity to tell her that everyone does it and that its best to do it straight away so it wont hurt etc… In the streets in paris whilst walking to school and poo dodging we would discuss the fact that dogs do it…bref. we also discussed diet with her, explaining cause and effect to the point that when she does a sore poo she comes and tells me that she’d like green beans for dinner. So, all that to say…I think the smarties are a good thing if it motivates her, I disagree with enemas and all other invasive techniques at this point and at the end of the day if it doesn’t hurt her and its not a diet or medical problem then really its her perogative to decide whether she wants to poo or not. We can’t control everything as parents either and maybe we should also try to respect our childrens “privacy”. Responsibilise (is that a word?) her about her poo, its hers and up to her whether she wants it out or in…when my daughter would cry because it hurt I would tell her that I could hold her hand and feel bad for her but that if she didn’t want it to hurt she would have to learn to go when she first felt the need, its up to her.

    Comment by croque madame — May 25, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

  40. Well if your gut instinct says smarties, then go for smarties. She’s far more likely to respond to your instinct than anyone else’s.

    Comment by fjl — May 25, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

  41. Do you think this may be more of a little girl problem rather than a little boy problem? Most of the people writing in the comments boxes seem to mention it happening to their daughters…

    Boys seem obsessed with pooing (I mean boys of all ages). Maybe it’s the men I know, but I often get a proud description of their toilet habits, where as this seems something women are reluctant to talk about, even to acknowledge (my female flatmate once tld me she went to great length to hide the fact that she pooed)…

    Tadpole is just being a normal little girl.

    Comment by Hmmm — May 25, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

  42. We have been there too. Amazing how many of your readers have had this unpleasant situation with their kids.

    Your doctor was maybe overreacting, and certainly undiplomatic about it. However, she has one valid point: Your state of mind has an impact on the situation. I’m saying this from experience, and some of the other comments clearly indicate this too.

    Now, it does not mean that this is your fault in any way, shape or form. You can’t just decide to feel better. You can’t help it if Tadpole has empathy with you, either !

    The good news is, as you are now “bien dans ta peau”, things should become much easier. Your confidence and relaxed approach will help as well.

    Comment by ontario frog — May 25, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  43. I found that a nice long warm bath would cause a reaction when my son was bunged up. I discovered this by mistake – every time I put him in the bath he pooed in it (when he was teeny) and when he got older I inevitably had the wet footprints on the carpet problem when he decided to go.

    Comment by Lucie — May 25, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  44. I think it’s dangerous when parents internalize like this and feel that they’re being told that it’s “their fault”. Because then, the reaction is usually one of defense (e.g. denial, hostility, resentment) and centered around what will make the parent feel better about it “potentially being their fault”…and less centered on what is best for the child.

    I’m not saying that the doctor is right or wrong…who knows? I just think it’s best to consider all possibilities to make sure that what’s best for the child comes first. Not what’s best for the parent’s ego. Children experience stress too…with the split and the new absence of the dad in the home, there very well might be some credibility to what your doctor has mentioned.

    I think sometimes the reflex of posters here is to coddle and be protective of your feelings because they have invested time in you by reading your posts and they care about your well-being. But this isn’t about you right now…it’s about your child. All I’m saying is instead of internalizing, maybe it’s in your child’s best interest to consider all possibilities to make sure that the child comes out on top; instead of your ego.

    Comment by Dina — May 25, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  45. I think Dino is a bit harsh, but I was surprised at your strong negative reaction. I’ve no idea how the French system works, and sure, constipation doesn’t need psychiatry – but Tadpole has been through a lot too. She isn’t exactly going to unburden herself (yet) to a sympathetic ear – but you could maybe be given some hints on looking for/dealing with feelings about her newly absent daddy.

    Now I feel intrusive! Maybe you (unlike me) ARE Supermum, and don’t need any help. Mother/daughter can get awfully complicated though – and they don’t forgive you much!

    Comment by Mo — May 25, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

  46. My aunt and uncle had this problem with their little girl a few years ago. It actually came down to them having to help her poo by massaging and pushing certain areas of her body gently to coax it through her system. She would cry and cry, and it was visibly painful to her parents, too.

    But, eventually, she stopped holding it in and the laxatives helped, too.

    A lot of people gave some great advice.

    Comment by Fixed Up Girl — May 25, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

  47. Mmm…. european smarties… So much better than the American version.

    Comment by Karen — May 25, 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  48. Hello Petite,

    I have been enjoying your blog for sometime now…and this is my first post.

    I went through this with my second son. When we finally explored this further (without aid from a psy might I add!) we discovered he was fearful of where his poo goes. It was frightening for him to have something leave his body and disappear (with a loud flush at that).

    Once we described the whole process (you eat the food, body absorbs nutrients and gets rid of the waste) he stopped “holding back”

    Oh, and we bribed him with chocolate as well! Nothing wrong with that!

    Comment by Kari — May 25, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

  49. I can’t believe I’m about to commit this to writing, but here goes… ;) When my parents tried to toilet train me I protested and held it in. I would say try a few home remedies and talk to her and see if it clears up over the next few days. If not you might want to think about taking her to another doctor for a second opinion.

    Comment by Laura — May 25, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

  50. I think what I wrote sounds harsh too…I tried to not sound that way, but I think in the end, the point that I made will sound harsh no matter how I phrase it.

    I was very surprised by the post, particularly the end when PA mentioned throwing the referral away, almost with a sense of thinly-veiled climactic triumph (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to describe it). I was very surprised that for one, that was said with some sort of pride attached, and that two, the doctor’s words were so easily and immediately dismissed.

    I really didn’t mean to sound stinky or anything, but I did mean what I said. I think internalizing and being defensive in such situations is, in the end, often harmful…and very selfish to children.

    Comment by Dina — May 25, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  51. In Petite’s defense, just to point out that while the English are starchy and balk at theraputic measures of any kind, the French ( especially the social sciences section) are all too keen to rush a mother off to a psychiatrist with her child at the first opportunity.
    You can’t go into the ‘cabinet’ ( surgery) and say boo, for fear of being escorted off. I’m kidding but you catch my drift.
    I advise Petite ( having been in exactly her situation) to avoid that childcare lot. They are a silly nuisance with far too many abeilles in their bonnets. There’s still alot of snobbery in France towards both the English and the single Mum. They’re too quick to classify. A bungling referral can take ages to get rid of in France, so provided you’re sure her medical care is fine, avoid over zealous officials. That’s among the best advice that can be given to any young Mum anyway.

    Comment by fjl — May 25, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  52. The irony here is that I kept the post it, I picked it out of the bin afterwards.

    (Artistic licence, didn’t include that bit.)

    Comment by petite — May 25, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

  53. As an English girl living in Paris without children I can only speak for myself, but in four years here I have had more referrals to specialists than I ever had in England. Sometimes of course it’s necessary, but the French love of being categorised in your job is sometimes quite frustrating. I understand your immediate reaction Petite, but I think it’s good that you kept the post-it, you could re-consider in a few weeks. Every little helps, as a popular supermarket would have us believe.

    Comment by Paris Lights — May 25, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  54. You see making pooh pooh is all about wanting to make a present for mummy. That’s what the doctor is getting at. It’s so obvious!

    Comment by Trevor — May 25, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

  55. I remember a certain family camping vacation when I was 13, my brother 5. After overhearing the adults discussing the “digusting state of the long-drop” (the only toilet in miles) he refused to go near it for the two weeks we were there. Yep, two whole weeks. He grew increasingly badtempered and red in the face. He was really quite scary, for a usually gentle little guy. From time to time he’d grab the back of his swimsuit and yell “mum! it’s coming out…” But as soon as he was at the door to that longdrop he’d be shaking his head nonchalantly, pretending he was fine. It was a happy time when we arrived at home, at a ‘safe’ toilet.

    Comment by TUI — May 25, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

  56. This has been an enlightening ten minutes, reading the Story of Poo. Having no kids myself, I’m blissfully unaware of all this. I hope the Midnight Poo doesn’t develop into a 1am, 2am, 3am poo but well done anyway to Tadpole. She’s a character, that girl.

    Comment by jj — May 25, 2006 @ 11:07 pm

  57. Ok so I’ve come in when the subject has been beaten to death by now…

    But for what it’s worth, yes, I used Smarties (M & Ms here) 1 for a wee wee, five (5) for a #2! I had to make the difference so noticeable between the 2 to make it seem more attractive to do #2! Natasha (3 in June) would hold it for days….

    I decided one morning about 3 months ago that I would start potty training and it took 1 week. Yes, 1 week. Bribes work very well for some children apparently! I was sick of changing nappies. However, she still wears one at night which is invariably dry upon waking.

    I heard that chocolate for diabetics has a laxative effect! Maybe you could try that also to soften it, hence make it less painful (if you want to combine the reward system and laxative effect)?

    I read Dooce’s blog too and this retention issue seems to be very commonplace. A lot of us here seem to I’ve noticed…um read her blog, not retain…lol!

    I also think your doc is the one who needs an assessment for being so stressed out and snappy!

    Comment by Kiora — May 25, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

  58. I want Trevor as my psych.
    Really! =)

    Comment by pooh — May 26, 2006 @ 1:20 am

  59. Message To Tadpole
    3 smarties doesn’t seem much of a deal for a good poo
    Have you considered holding out for a bag of maltesers?

    Comment by Julia — May 26, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  60. This doctor was just trying to help you, as much as he could.

    Comment by Patricia — May 26, 2006 @ 9:17 am

  61. To Dina again. Yes, my post seemed snappier than I meant, too. And to Petite: the point about French prejudices and bad “specialists” seems very valid. The point I was trying to make is that going through break-ups without a child is tough; with a child, it’s murder. Brought up without a father myself, I opted for “stay together for the sake of the children.” I saved them some of the traumas, but only to replace them with others. I still don’t know which is the better option. Now, I fairly cheerfully accept that whatever you do with children, you screw up. Good advice along the way can help. Guilt definitely doesn’t.

    Comment by Mo — May 26, 2006 @ 10:08 am

  62. I think the point here is that I have no idea whether Tadpole would have gone through this phase regardless of whether her father and I still lived together or not. I don’t want to jump to conclusions about it. She seems, on the surface, to be a very happy and well adjusted child, who spends far more quality time with her dad than ever before, and is making wonderful progress, but is just very strong willed (potty training for n° 1’s was a struggle too).

    I don’t want to overlook the possibility that she may be picking up on my stress or having trouble adjusting, as unlikely as it seems to me. Or to be flippant about it. But I want to try and deal with what seems to be a very common problem myself first, trusting my own gut instincts, before asking for any further help.

    Comment by petite — May 26, 2006 @ 10:32 am

  63. It’s the “unlikely” word that bothers. Witholding like this is far more common for “psychological” reasons than physical – whether the very common fear of where it goes to the sheer delight in playing up mum and feeling important. It’s good that she’s happy, it’s good that you and Frog are doing your best, but I’m not convinced that kids want “quality time” – they are more interested in continuity. You SHOULD trust your instincts, and you are clearly doing all you can for her wellbeing, but with a new home on the horizon as well , she will play you up. Kids are masters at it. Even (particularly) the angelic ones.

    Comment by Mo — May 26, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  64. Petite,

    As a French psy working in London, my advice to you would be to trust your mother’s instinct first. I personally think that the Smarties technique is quite good, as long as it is used as a short-term solution. Otherwise you may end up with a confused Tadpole refusing to have a poo unless she gets her ‘reward’ for it (conditioning). Let alone bad teeths.

    There may be many reasons behind Tadpole’s resistance for no 2. Either physical or psychological. If Tadpole refuses to have a poo because she thinks/feels that she is going to be in pain, it is likely to be a psychological problem and she would therefore need to see a child psychiatrist to work on this unhealthy belief/emotion, especially if the Smarties technique does not help after a few days. If the reason is physical, it is your GP’s responsability to find the appropriate medical treatment.

    Talk to Tadpole. Ask her the reasons why she is reluctant to have a poo. Listening to your child will help you to find the right solution for her.

    Bon courage et bravo pour ce blog!

    Comment by PsyUK — May 26, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

  65. I’d say go with your gut ‘Mummy’ feeling for now, in my experience many French tend to dramatise anything and everything as far as children are concerned. My son’s first pédiatre
    told me that he was obese and needed to go on a diet when he was 10 months old and that he would therefore walk very late as he wouldn’t be able to pull himself up.

    I ignored her and had a happy and fat baby who was walking at 11 months and of course I change doctors.

    Don’t make a big deal of the whole thing as Tadpole is sure to pick up on that and give her food that will help things along, so to speak. If things don’t get better then go and see someone, a case of wait and see….

    Comment by Pauline — May 26, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

  66. In good old blighty was referred to social services for using a suppository as daughter chronically constipated – needing 4 nurses to hold her down for enema! On arriving here, French specialist found that chest muscles were not properly joined, therefore no power to push, plus malplaced anus, therefore bottleneck. For three years following we had a strict routine of forcing a poo every 2 to 3 days. It’s still a bit of a problem but totally dédramatisé. Glycerine suppositories help a lot. No bananas or rice, lots of orange juice. You are definitely not alone. Good luck and lots of CALM perseverance. Agree that constipation can be psychological but rule out physical first. Did you realise how much ‘advice’ you’d get? Sorry to add mine to the plethora, but thought it might help.

    Comment by J — May 26, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

  67. Forgive the apparent crassness in this analogy but I find Tadpole’s unwillingness to let go of her shit an accurate parallel with your unwillingness to let go of yours.

    Ditch the ex.
    Stop lying.
    Let more *real* (not cyber borne) people into your life.
    Then hopefully, I can get back to reading what started off as a brilliant blog.

    Love and warm wishes to you.

    Comment by Merlette — May 26, 2006 @ 1:38 pm

  68. Just to completely agree with Petite’s conclusion above. Mum’s instinct is not for nothing. What did I say about advising young Mums in vulnerable situations to look out for white elephant advice..?
    ( Stay strong.)

    Comment by fjl — May 26, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  69. I agree with J – i had problems for years and years and years as a child and as an adult – after suffering for a long time I was finaly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Love to you and Tadpole. A warm hot water bottle on the back and the front is an excellent way of relaxing the intestine (administer with TLC).

    Comment by northerncreative — May 26, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  70. Fella’s back.

    Comment by Sleuth — May 26, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  71. Dearest Merlette: If you don’t like what she’s writing about, stop reading. Petite’s blog isn’t your personal “cyber borne” soap opera. Your comment is crude and presumptuous. Maybe you need to “let go of your shit” before you visit another comments box.

    Comment by LJ — May 26, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  72. Merlette: Talk about straight to the point! Geesh…criticism sucks.

    On the other hand, your words though harsh as all get out are umm…very useful, for me at least (much to my own chagrin).

    I seriously need to take that damn advice. Who knew? You need to be my damn therapist. >:0(

    Comment by Dina — May 26, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

  73. What’s the lying comment about though? I think PA tends to be surprisingly honest…

    (even at the risk of funky comments from people)

    Comment by Dina — May 26, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

  74. Petite,

    For you, Tadpole seems perfectly well on the surface, but you see her everyday, and you don’t see other kids so you don’t have any fixed point of comparison.

    Your doctor found you and Tadpole looked stressed these days (the constipation being only a hint), there might be truth in it. She can probably see more than us here behind our computers. It’s very honest from her to tell you imediatly and (relatively) straighly.

    A relative’s son was *a perfectly happy kid” for his parents, and surely he didn’t look unhappy, he was very lovely and intelligent as his mother said. He was *not talkative* and *not comunicative* compared to other children I was babysitting. Also he was not taken to play with other children, another thing considered completely normal by the family.
    The parents didn’t do anything till the school psychologist made them see an orthophonist and
    take him to school everyday (instead of once a week). That’s not a big deal to see an orthophonist (or a psychologist, or a kin or whatever…) and there is no shame in it. If that kid had started 2 years before he wouldn’t have had to start primary school later than others.

    No matter that many people separate while kids are very young, that many kids are shared between 3 houses (yours, the nanny’s and her father) + the grand-parents’, that many kids are raised in 2 different cultures, that many kids start going to school and are moving this year… And nobody wants to know whose fault it is. All that is stressful.

    If that child psy can help you to make the point, and probably reassure you about Tadpole’s good balance and send you home with good general advice
    , why not giving it a try ?

    Comment by Kuri — May 27, 2006 @ 5:46 am

  75. Have you ever heard of “De la petite taupe qui voulait savoir qui lui avait fait sur la tête”? It’s a great book, very successful with my boys (still at the age at which “pipi caca” is most hilarious thing they have ever heard…), very “pince-sans-rire”, and gracefuly descriptive … I recommend it.

    Comment by Lola — May 27, 2006 @ 5:50 am

  76. Wow. So quick to fire some of you. I actually do like what Ms Petite is writing about. Did I give the impression to the contrary? If so, then perhaps a cauterisation of your perception is in order :) Part of the enjoyment of a blog – which is offered for consumption by the public, might I add – *is* participation and, as has been the case from the outset, the author of this blog welcomes comment be they to *your* liking or not.

    My earlier comment was sincere and well meant based on the premise that you get what you give out and vice versa. That’s not being negative, it’s merely using the use of personal energy to illustrate a point.

    Merci :)

    Comment by Merlette — May 27, 2006 @ 11:28 am

  77. Would you please send me the psychiatrist’s details. I haven’t had a good poo in what seems like ages.

    Comment by ellie — May 27, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

  78. Just took a look at your site, you hussy… (!)

    Tadpole did a poo this evening. In the toilet. I have just downed an entire packet of celebratory smarties. I doubt it is all over yet, but it’s a start.

    Comment by petite — May 27, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

  79. Blush. Blush.

    Congrats on the poo!

    Comment by ellie — May 28, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  80. At first I wondered..whose site? Who’s the hussy?

    AND THEN I SAW. (Speechless…)

    Now, back to poo…hooraaaayyyy for Tadpole! Victory over the poo…

    Comment by Noire Dire — May 28, 2006 @ 6:43 am

  81. I have to say I was a little less enthusiastic about the one she did at 4am…

    …treading that fine line between congratulating her just enough, and waking her up so thoroughly that the night’s sleep is over.

    Comment by petite — May 28, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

  82. Happy Mother’s Day Petite

    Comment by J — May 28, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

  83. Why, oh, why did I click on that link?

    Comment by LJ — May 28, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

  84. I asked myself the same.

    I have to say, “hussy” is one of the funniest words I’ve ever heard. Along with heifer. No, hussy beats heifer, hands down in the funny department.

    Particularly when followed by an exclamation mark.

    Comment by Noire Dire — May 28, 2006 @ 5:22 pm

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