Disclaimer: the following includes bathroom details, including the words “potty” and “pee-pee.” If this is story is too graphic, your kids are too old.
My husband, S.J., was out of town for four days recently, enjoying a guys’ long weekend in Idaho. The good news is that he got some well-deserved R&R. On the downside, I was seriously outnumbered by the Lilliputian natives in my house. I love my kids, but when they use their powers for evil, they are a force to be reckoned with. Think Darth Vader meets Voldemort behind an Anne Geddes façade.
On the first day of S.J.’s absence, I dropped baby Bennett off at daycare and took the big kids to the Museum of Natural History in D.C. Dinosaurs are currently a huge deal in our house, so this was a big treat. We arrived at home, happy but tired, around 5:00. All three kids were occupied and content in the family room, so I decided to check on my blog in the adjacent office. That’s when my story takes a sinister turn.
Two-year-old Serena is newly potty trained. After a few months as a “pee-pee in the potty” dilettante, the mental switch was flipped about a month ago, and she now does all her business in the toilet. She’s been exclusively in underpants during the day for about two weeks.
Serena is very independent, and she performs the whole bathroom routine by herself, from pulling down the pants to washing her hands. If I try to accompany her, she will tell me she “wants some piracy” and asks me to leave. The only chink in her potty armor is wiping after a poop, which she still sees as an optional part of the process.
While I was checking my blog, I heard Serena’s feet padding into the bathroom. I heard her mount the toilet, flush, wash her hands, and leave the bathroom. I suspected that there had been a twosie, so I got up to check on her. As I approached, I heard water running in the empty bathroom.
I turned the corner to find water flowing freely from the toilet onto the floor and into the hall. It seems that nature had called Serena a little too quickly this time. She had gotten on the potty while mid-poop, creating an unholy mess. There was poo on the seat and messy underpants on the floor. She had actually decided to wipe this time, and she did so with gusto, using at least a half of a roll of toilet paper and thus clogging the toilet.
I pulled the top off the toilet as quickly as possible and tried to pull on various plumbing parts to stop the gushing water. I should mention that this toilet has been problematic for the last week, and my husband had spent several pre-Idaho days trying to fix it. I now saw that his efforts had been unsuccessful because I couldn’t stop the water; it started flowing again whenever I took my hand off the stopper.
I shouted to Colin, trying to get his immediate attention while keeping the desperation and panic out of my voice, asking him to bring me the plunger from the garage.
As I waited with my hand on the wet stopper, I heard an ominous noise: baby Bennett was approaching. My ten-month-old – semi-affectionately referred to as “Godzilla” by his siblings because of his ability to get at and destroy anything that piques his interest – is obsessed with bathrooms, and toilets in particular. I knew he had smelled fresh meat, and he would be in the mess within seconds.
The water was still flowing, but Colin was nowhere in sight with the coveted plunger. I had to make a move.
I let go of the stopper, scooped Bennett up in my one semi-dry elbow, and plopped him into his bouncy seat, which was thankfully en route to the garage. Bennett started to wail in disappointment, but he was clean and safe.
Without pausing I hauled butt to the garage. Spotting the plunger, I leaped over Colin, grabbed the plunger and turned tail back to the bathroom. Colin began to protest that I had aced him out on his plunger quest, but I pacified him by shouting over my shoulder that he could watch TV. Two kids down, one more to go.
As I raced into the bathroom – jumping over the widening puddle – I hollered at Serena to come see me. I still had not seen the culprit, and had no idea what state she was in. As I prepared to plunge she came into view, her leg and bottom streaked with brown. I told her to stay out of the puddle, but it was too late; she belly flopped onto the floor with a splash.
I had to make a call: did I continue to plunge, or did I take care of my sweet but nauseatingly dirty little girl crying in a puddle of filth? Judge me if you will, but my head overruled my heart and I took five seconds to plunge, thus stopping the root problem, before picking her up.
Once the deluge had subsided, I picked Serena up and headed upstairs to the shower. I got her cleaned up and then parked her with Colin and Bennett in front of the TV. Since Colin doesn’t know how to work the TiVo, the boys had been watching Oprah (I’ll know why if Colin starts telling me about weight loss secrets.) I switched over to Sesame Street and headed back to the scene of the crime.
I managed to get the floor disinfected, put the soiled clothes and towels in the washer, and take the world’s quickest shower before Bennett started to truly wail. Just in time to start dinner.
As I said, I love my children. I love my husband. Just for that day, though, I chose to hate the entire state of Idaho.
The scene of the crime