Mom Smarts: the Playground Pooper


I like to think of myself as somewhat of a professional. I’m actually in my seventh year of mom school, like a resident or fellow. Except that I didn’t ever go to school for mothering. I read a crud ton of books and listened to a lot of moms’ solicited and unsolicited advice, but most stuff, I’ve learned the hard way. The real life way. Through observing others or trial and error, cause and effect, the “what the….?” and the holy shit” moments. That’s seven plus years worth of mom smarts. Which ultimately amounts to nothing. I know nothing.

Today, my four year old son walked over to me on the playground and told me, “I have to go the bathroom.” Then said, “It started coming out.” Game changer. Oh. I looked down and his pants weren’t visibly wet. “You went poop?” That’s the one. I looked in his pants to find out that he was telling the truth. He not only had “started,” he had finished. Ignored the urge in the name of fun and crapped his pants. So, on a school playground, you don’t have a lot of options. Meanwhile, the five other boys I had brought continued happily playing. They needed to release some energy. This fact eliminated the option of me having everybody walk home, a long walk home for the one boy with crap in his pants, who most likely, would want me to give him a piggy back ride. Thankfully, a veteran boy mom friend of mine said “just go over there and empty it out.” There was an area outside of the playground. Good plan. I took the Capri sun box with me as a makeshift trash can. As I walked with my boy, who could have cared less that he had a load in his pants, he gave me a play by play commentary on where the poop had travelled. “It’s down my leg, Mom.” Oh, dear god. And now to suppress gag reflex, mom mode activated.

We made it behind the air conditioner vent where I began the heinous process of de-pooping his leg, his pants, etc. Goodbye, older brother’s Spider-Man underwear. Shhhhhh, I’m not saving you, and don’t give me any guilt, into the Capri sun box you go. I looked down. I had no options for wiping his butt except to use some large leaves from a plant that I hope was a non-poisonous alternative to toilet paper. My son cooperated as I wiped his butt cheeks the best I could. With plant leaves that were “cold” according to him. I will pause to let you know that as parenting book savvy as I may claim to be, I never ever read any parenting book that addressed how to dispose of any sort of pee, poop, vomit, etc. when not near a toilet. Please tell me every parent has several or too many to count of these disgusting stories.

Quite frankly, one of the most horrifying poop scenarios happened long ago, when my twin boys were under a year old. The sweet little guys were able to sit up and play in the water for what seemed like eternity. I didn’t mind. It was like a water filled pack n’ play. A mom vacation. I spent hours upon hours in that bathroom. I love-hated it. Until the day that one boy pooped in the tub. I can’t remember who. As a sleep deprived twin parent, your critical thinking skills fall into a coma of sorts. Oh. My. Wake up! What do you do when you see a new mysteriously shaped brown bath toy floating in the tub?

That’s. Not. A. Bath. Toy.

You freak out. Then your boys look at you. The babies start crying. Oh no! Affect regulation. It’s ok. It’s ok. No, it’s really not. You’re silently cursing every parenting book and parent who has ever talked to you. WHY would they never prepare you for this unwelcome bath time visitor? All of the lame stories but never “Turd Alert….what to do.” I adapted and quickly picked up and plopped their two slippery bodies out onto the bath mat. No towel. You want to just grab the kids, exit strategy. Leave the sudsy water and poop bobbing under the bubbles and brushing up next to toys. All the nine hundred toys. That’s enough trauma for one day. Get the boys, close the door. Surely, you could never go in there again. Or tell your husband when he gets home. He’s a much better fisher”man” than you. But you can’t because you’re going to have to bathe your poopy children. Again.

If you’ve never had the debate of whether you should drain the tub with the poop in it or go “poop fishing” with your hand, you’ve never truly lived. It’s a disgusting sort of adrenaline rush. In fact, every new parent should get one of those small fish store nets at their first baby shower. Maybe they should even learn about this scenario before conceiving a child. If not, the fish net should be a mandatory baby registry item that comes complete with instructions to be placed in the bathroom cabinet for “the code brown bath when you will need it.” The instructions should read “Baby/Toddler Poop Net.” That’s all.

If you didn’t know, now you do. If your child never shat in the tub, congratulations. As a parent, you can’t let emergent unexpected pee or poop ruin your day. Or you’re going to have a lot of shitty days.

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