Poop-a-Palooza ’04 (originally published July 2004)
Summer was just beginning, and I found myself having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to my new schedule—no three-day-a-week-preschool activities to keep my two nearly 5-year-old boys happy and distracted from antagonizing their two-and-a-half year old brother. However, I embraced the thought that I’m perfectly capable of handling just about anything, if I could just find the humor in the situation.
One afternoon, I scheduled a trip to the park for lunch with another mom and her three-year-old twins sons. Turning five little boys loose on the playground is always a good idea.
We arrived at the park, had lunch and proceed to let the boys run wild. About an hour later, one of my twins has a slight "bodily function accident," which sent us packing for home in search of a clean pair of underwear. Both boys were fully toilet-trained by this time, however one had been experiencing a minor setback with his bathroom habits —he would find himself so thoroughly engrossed with playing outdoors that he would neglect paying attention to his "urges." It was our current mini-crisis, and we attempted to deal with it in stride, making it clear that his choice was unacceptable while cushioning his fragile psyche. But I digress…
We got that mess cleaned up (literally) and proceeded with our afternoon. My husband arrived home early from work to do yard work, so the boys and I headed out to the back yard to play. Soon, though, I noticed the “accident prone” son ostracizing himself from our happy little group. This, as I had quickly learned, is one of the tell-tale signs that he's shirking on his bodily responsibilities. I called him on it, and he immediately denied any wrong-doing, then began to cry which made me feel horrible. I mean, here I was, basically calling him a liar; I thought I’d hurt his feelings. However, I quickly discovered this was not quite so — he was crying because I was right.
Another fine mess… so to speak.
We handled that clean-up detail, and trooped back outside to play. My husband, in the meantime, finished the yard work, so I headed inside to get dinner ready. (On that particular evening, we were having "Family Burger"—which is a huge hamburger nestled in an equally huge bun, cut up into wedges for everyone to share. (You might be thinking, "And this is relevant…why…?” but the dinner menu plays into the latter part of this epic.)
So, I was in the kitchen, keeping an eye on the boys outside, when I noticed the two-and-a-half year old acting peculiar—lifting his shirt and trying to pull his shorts down. And it looked like he'd tried to remove his diaper without having removed his shorts. Very bizarre… even by two-and-a-half-year-old standards.
I immediately bolted outside. The last thing I needed was a naked toddler running around the back yard in front of God and everyone. Just as I got out the door, though, the other five-year-old came blazing up to me, "talkingthisfast.” I distinctly heard the word “poop” in his blurry dialogue. I walked out to discover his twin standing under the wooden playset, naked from the waist down, looking too guilty for words. It seems he’d had another "incident" and thought (in, I think, a brilliant manner for a pre-schooler) that he'd ditch the evidence in the grass. Something along the lines of, "Maybe Mom and Dad will just think it's the dog’s."
In trying to avoid losing my mind in front of the entire neighborhood, I ordered all children into the house through clenched teeth. I decided to leave the “evidence” right where it was for the moment, and deal with it after cleaning him up. A few minutes later, my husband came in the house and — not knowing what had just transpired in the back yard — let our rambunctious Yellow Lab, Mosby, outside. This dog — as if led by some kind of bizarre "poop radar" — zeroed in on the offensive material and dive-bombed it, smearing it from his furry doggy chin to his furry doggy chest.
Keep in mind, dinner is stuck in mid-prep stage.
After learning of his inadvertent transgression, my husband felt bad about letting the dog out, and promptly went out front to get the grill going for dinner. I find myself at this point trying to regain my composure, and desperately try to see the lighter side of this debacle.
It became blatantly obvious that I could not leave our poop-smeared dog outside much longer. He was yelping and barking, pleading to be let inside — undoubtedly disrupting our neighbors’ peaceful dinners. I had no choice but to fill a bucket and give him a quick, makeshift sponge bath on the patio. This is the only time he appeared even the slightest bit sheepish about the whole incident. As I cleaned him up, I realized he was still emitting an overwhelmingly strong odor. I removed his collar to discover a majority of the aforementioned poop lodged underneath the collar — sort of a "poop pendant," if you will. Completely grossed out, I made a mental note to buy a new collar.
OK... with a clean dog, I re-entered the house, thoroughly disinfected my hands and tried once more to finish preparing dinner. My husband, by this time, had taken the mega-burger outside to the grill. It wasn’t too long before he reappeared with the cooked burger… in about a half-dozen pieces. This was not his fault, and I had no idea why in the world it disintegrated. At this point, though, I could care less. We could still shove it into the mega-bun and eat it, which we did. About a minute later, however, we realized the middle portion of the burger wasn’t done. I do NOT do pink hamburger. I immediately whipped into a frenzy, snatching away the boys’ dinner plates. They were understandably confused, and probably completely convinced their mother had gone insane, as they watched me fire hot dogs into the microwave like I was standing on the free-throw line.
By now, though, they had lost complete interest in eating dinner—not because of the disgusting chain of events that had taken place, but simply because their attention spans simply couldn’t hold out that long. Instead, they created a moderate level of chaos, which occupied them enough to not notice the dog was systematically swiping hot dogs from their plates. How could he have possibly passed up a rare, self-serving opportunity such as this? He may have been damp and stinky… but certainly nobody’s fool.
Somehow, I finally found the humor in the whole afternoon as I knelt down under the table beside him, to gently dab ketchup from the corner of his mouth.