Poop is still my life. It’s amazing how much of a focus it takes each day. I have my one child, 3-year-old little man who won’t poop for days and then finally does in some screaming fit in his swim pants at swim class or in a pull up at pre-school or occasionally in his little potty at the house. We now own Everybody Poops and It Hurts When I Poop and we read them A LOT. I asked my pediatrician for advice and he responded with one word: bribery (further advice welcome here, dear readers). Little man was pretty much a sugar-free kid until we potty-trained. Now we ply with ice cream, cookies, and the crown jewel cupcakes! We doll out gold star stickers (thank you Grannie Hannah) for successful poops in the potty that can be traded in for real Thomas & Friends trains. We have failed—fallen from our lofty hill of generic non-media based toys. We will do anything to try to get little man to poop in the potty.
We just got back from a week in Ixtapa, Mexico—I will forever sing the accolades of the all inclusive (read: abundant alcohol) high-chair, pack’n’play, stroller, and kid’s club-providing Club Med there—and we spent a good part of everyday pacing back and forth between pool and little toilets (they even had mini toilets—I LOVE this place!!!) and beach and little toilets and dining room and little toilets and each episode usually concluded with two seconds total sitting on the potty and a proudly announced “I’m done!” with nothing to show for it in the potty and back to whatever activity we had been in the midst of we return…for 15 minutes and then the groans and potty dance from little man resume and back to the toilets we go!
Little man just won’t go until he REALLY HAS TO GO and that often takes days and when he finally does have to go we’re not always right by a potty. And the pool always seems to pry open the floodgates. One morning in Ixtapa, after countless trips to the potty, and after being on strike for days, little man had his usual little mishap in his swim pants that’s now no biggie. I’ve become a pro at this: after our screaming trips around the pool at swim class (which as an aside, amused husband really wants me to video and I’m like, how do I hold infant, chase howling little man, and use finger to record all at the same time, not even to mention the quality of the video being taken due to vigorous movement involved? I let him know he is welcome to come to any swim class and be our videographer at any time—he’s now contemplating paying a babysitter), I now put a little liner inside his swim pants so if he goes at swim class (I have instructed him that he has to get out of the pool and stand on the side so as not to contaminate said pool), we just plop the liner and poop in the toilet and back to the pool we go in 1 minute flat. This is my new strategy. I’m trying to decrease the stress and angst of my 3-year-old because it kills me that he’s already carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And our screaming streaks have reduced significantly.
Well husband hasn’t had quite so much experience with our whole screaming around the pool throw the liner out thing and was grossed out by the little reserve left on the swim pants and took them entirely off so now little man had liner-less board shorts on and the floodgates had been opened but not emptied because did I mention he had been on strike FOR DAYS so when little man got back in the pool he suddenly realized he had to go more and luckily got out of the pool (thanks to our swim lesson training) before plop—yes a huge poop dropped straight through the airy board shorts and took up residence on the side of the pool. Husband on the deck looked at me. I looked at husband from the pool with baby girl. I totally gave him the “you’re closest” look and husband took a paper cup and napkin and scoop before the lifeguard could notice. Yes: my child pooped on the side of the pool. Yes: mortified.
Then my other child, 6-month-old baby girl seems to poop all the time and it goes EVERYWHERE. I swear I lose a shirt or pair of pants a day to her poops. And on the not so lucky days, I lose an entire outfit. Christmas Eve, sitting in a fancy restaurant in my silk purple dress with the grandparents and kid-free brother and his wife, we hear an audible explosion over the restaurant din and yes, there is a puddle of poop in my lap. Awesome.
“What did you do?” one of my friends asked. I actually felt smugly proud of myself because I had a plastic bag in my diaper bag just waiting for such an occasion and a whole other outfit to change baby girl into (too bad I couldn’t magically unfold a wrinkle free outfit for me too!). I asked for some extra paper towels from fancy French-speaking waiter and just sponged off the best I could. And continued! If my brother and his wife never have kids, I think the cosmos can just blame me…and my sometimes screaming, poop-filled children.
Baby girl has mastered the ability of explosive poops at the most inopportune times. Picture the scene: returning from our trip to Ixtapa, descending in flight into LAX, the entire family in one row with me and baby girl by the window, husband on the aisle, and little man between us licking a lollipop to keep his head from exploding, we hear the audible plthbtbt that seems to last for minutes. I sit up baby girl and her entire back is now brown. And there’s a puddle on my maxi skirt where she was leaning. At the same moment, little man starts wiggling and shouting I HAVE TO GO PEE I HAVE TO GO PEE I HAVE TO GO PEE and remember we are descending on our flight so there is no getting up from our seats for at least 15 more minutes and we remind little man that he has a pull up on since we’re traveling but he’s a big boy now and he won’t use his pull-up but would rather wiggle and moan and grimace all in unison.
So at the risk of being pounced on by air marshals, husband unbuckled little man and held him on his lap while simultaneously laying out a changing matt, wipes, and a new diaper. I stripped baby girl and put cute onsie with stars and little bow only worn once, along with nasty diaper and wipes, all in a zip lock (also supplied by handy husband), discreetly placed the entire bag on the floor, and slyly pushed it under the seat ahead of us. We had tried to hand off a yellow only diaper to a stewardess earlier and she had made some commotion about diapers being in the same trash bag as food products and instructed us to carry it to the restroom in the back. Since there was no getting up at this point, we left ziplock with nasty diaper and onsie on the floor. We threw away the onsie. And since I had worn shorts to the airport in 90 degree Ixtapa and changed into my maxi skirt for the plane, I did a reverse deck change, pulled on shorts under skirt, pulled off skirt, and voila! Though I considered it, I didn’t throw away the skirt. It went in another plastic bag and got buried in my carry on.
Then as soon as we landed, I left baby girl with husband, picked up little man, and dashed past “occupied” plane restrooms, through terminal and extra long moving walkways, pushing aside passerby’s, and deposited little man on floor in front of nearest toilet we could find. The entire world breathed a collective sigh of relief. It’s funny how people get out of your way when you throw an elbow here or there and with 3-year-old in tow announce loudly, “excuse me, potty crisis, excuse me, potty crisis.”
People assure me that little man will not be withholding poop when he’s 15 (though at that time, I may wish he were). And with the introduction of solid foods into 6-month-old baby girl’s diet in the last 2 weeks, the poops are becoming, well, more solid. Someday we’ll laugh about the fact that we actually owned poop books (I count 4, off the top of my head) and about the amount of laundry that I currently do. And on that day we’ll miss the 3-year-old who deposits mini trash cans around his room and makes me use finger puppet animals to call the garbage truck over to retrieve the trash from each of them. And we’ll miss the toothless wide-eyed sparkly grins of little girl reaching up for my nose from her snuggly little cradled position in my arms. So once again, I thank God for my screaming-child-poop-filled stage.