The Everyday Horrors of Parenting.

Elliot started school last week. He’s having a tough time adjusting, so we are taking it slow. The kid has been attached to me since the moment he was born. So I knew it would be a difficult transition for him. But since the new baby will take up a lot of my time come March, I figured it’s best to introduce Elliot to some independence ahead of time.

The new school is pretty great. They are very accommodating when it comes to potty training, which is important to both Toby and me. Without turning this into a debate, we are pretty adamant about not pressing the whole potty training situation. We let the kids figure it out on their own (with guidance, of course). When they are ready, they will use the potty. Before that, we don’t push them to do so. It’s just the way we do things.

So, yeah. Elliot is not yet potty trained. And I am pleased that this school is very flexible on this issue. They work with the kids, talk to them. But never do they introduce shame or force it upon the child. Instead, if the child goes to the bathroom or even tries to go to the bathroom, the child gets a high five, a hug; basically, the child gets praised. And that sits very well with us.

And wouldn’t you know, after 3 short days, Elliot is already making progress. (Being around other kids helps!) He is now letting me know when he has to go. And that’s a huge step. Before now, he would poop and then run away from me, hide in the corner, whatever he could to avoid EVER having that diaper changed. I’m all for not pressuring the kids to use the toilet, but sitting around in their own feces? Well, I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s been a bit of a struggle.

But that’s now changing, thankfully. Elliot is more vocal about it and no longer runs away when it’s time. He’s even letting us know beforehand, which is awesome.

But all of that backfired today.

(Warning! Those who are annoyed by parents sharing too much, or those who are squeamish about feces should stop reading.)

I picked Elliot up from school at 12:30. Once home, he played with his trains. I love listening to Elliot play. I listened from the other room.

At about 1:45 he came up to me and said, “Mama! I pooped! Den I change mah dipah!”

“You did!” I said, proud of him even though he didn’t currently have a diaper on. Realizing that this meant there was a used diaper somewhere, I had to find out where the crime took place. “Elliot, where did this happen?”

“Ovah hee-ah!” He said, turning away from me, exposing his pooped-streaked legs.

Oh shit. I thought.

I followed him into the living room to discover the dog gleefully licking the carpet. A tiny pair of pants had been tossed aside, leaving a skid mark in their wake. And there was a clean diaper that had been used as toilet paper.

I was horrified, but I kept my cool. Poop doesn’t really bother me, but dogs eating poop? That bothers me. And poop all over my kid, the floor and the carpet when we have to leave in 15 minutes to fetch the other kid? Well, bad timing all around. This particular scenario sucked.

But Elliot was so proud! He felt he had taken a HUGE step and I could not let on otherwise.

“Wow!” I said, giving him my biggest fake smile. “You DID change your diaper!” I shooed away the shitty dog. “We have to clean you up now, OK? How about a quick bath?”

“But I don’t want a bath.”

“But you have poop all over you and I don’t think wipes are gonna work.”


Ah! The impenetrable independence again. He refused to take a bath, kicking and screaming. Refused. And the clock was ticking. I had two choices: put him in the tub, kicking and screaming; or, bring him to Em’s school covered in feces.

Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you have all the time in the world is nearly impossible. Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you’ve been given a time limit? Forget it. They know. They know you have to leave the house in a few minutes so they become even more stubborn. So, I picked him up and put him in the tub. I let him stand, reassuring him that I wasn’t going to give him a bath, because, God forbid. I told him that instead I was just gonna hose him off.


He moved to the back of the tub in protest as I delicately began hosing him off. Poop made its way down his legs and into the bottom of the tub. I looked at the clock. Five minutes. Crap.

To make matters even worse, the plumbing in our master bathroom is simply awful. The tub doesn’t drain well at all. (This is what you get when you buy an old house with a master bath that’s not been updated in 100 years. Yes. It’s true. We have a 100-year-old bathroom.) So the tub began to fill up.

Every now and again, there’s really only one thing left for a parent to do and that’s weep. So as the tub began to fill with brown liquid, I did just that. I wept. And weeping made me feel better.

Elliot screamed like the water was acid. And since it seemed like I was torturing him, I stopped with the hose and began to wipe him down instead. And as poop and tears made their way slowly out of our ancient tub, Elliot continued to scream.

I’m not sure how we made it out of the house in time, but we did. And I made sure to roll up the carpet before we left in hopes of keeping the dog from repulsing me even further, to the point of no return. (Civilized animals DO NOT willingly eat poop. This is why I was born a cat person and will die a cat person. Sorry dog.)

As we drove up the hill to fetch his brother, Elliot says to me in his sweet, soft voice, “Mama? Sorry I got poop on cahpet. But I change mah diapah!”

“Yes you did, baby. And I’m proud of you. But next time? Let me do the wiping, OK?”



  1. Oh, dear. The days that try a mother’s soul.


  2. My 9yo just permitted me to tell you the story of the day I walked into her room at the end of naptime and she had attempted to change her diaper but gotten stumped halfway to the trash can (because the Diaper Champ wasn’t in her room.) When I came in her hands were covered in poop but she was smiling with delight. “I makeen poopy pancakes!” she said. I was so calm and positive I didn’t even recognize myself.


  3. Cat people For. The. Win.


  4. Thank you for sharing. We feel the same way about potty training and are therefore in the same boat, self-changing aside (so far…). I’m sorry this happened to you (and I’ve had a recent poop in the tub incident so I can related in a small way to at least that part) but I really appreciate knowing I’m not alone – especially in the weeping.


  5. Oh, you poor thing! It sounds like you handled the situation really, really well. Good on you.


  6. This made me chuckle. You did better than I would have.


  7. You win the mama patience award for that. Oh my goodness.


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