The Battle of the Poop

There are small things and there are big things in parenthood. Good and bad. My hope is that in old age, it’s the good that shine the brightest. But there are times in the day-to-day that the bad grab hold and demand your attention. Or your irritation, at least.

Take, for example, the morning after my sweet daughter left for Europe. I entered my shower thinking that, despite the cold weather and long pants I would wear, maybe I’d shave. Only… my razor was missing.

That’s weird, I thought. Did I take it out for some reason? I glanced over at the counter and it wasn’t there. When I got out, I checked my overnight bag from a recent trip. It wasn’t there either, which didn’t surprise me since I knew I hadn’t packed it. You know, winter weather and long pants and all. My mind drifted to my daughter. Surely she didn’t take it with her? She has her own and likes it better.

I asked the menfolk of my household if they knew where it was. They all just shook their heads, looked at me odd for asking, and went about their days. Which I ultimately did as well, thinking about the missing razor only in the mornings as my eyes lit upon its empty holder during my shower. Just one of the minor irritations of being a parent and thus, not the master of my own stuff.

That is, until I found myself in the children’s bathroom early one morning with my eyes watering and a bandanna wrapped tightly around my face. It was then, in such a miserable state, that I saw my wayward razor sitting in their shower. She must have “borrowed” it, I thought to myself, backing out to the relative safety of the hallway. Hers was probably already packed. I bet she planned to return it when done. They always plan, but never do.

The thoughts were a delay tactic, I knew, and eventually I resumed my odious task – one of the larger and much more objectionable irritations of parenthood.

I had managed to forget about this task until that morning when I had opened the door to see which boy had gotten up without my knowing, and been greeted not by an indignant child unhappy about the door opening, but instead by a smell so strong that I quickly shut the door. And remembered.

It was late the night before. The boys and I were staying up a little late because it was Spring Break so why not? But finally, I had admonished Hal, the youngest, to use the bathroom, brush his teeth, and get ready for bed.

He had returned quickly with his nose scrunched up and a small, nervous smile on his face. With a little giggle, he said, “The toilet is clogged!”

“When did that happen?” I asked, my eyes heavy with sleep and my shoulders now sagging. I looked around the room.

“It wasn’t me,” said Daryl, only momentarily diverting his attention from Fort Nite on the PS4 to me.

“Well it wasn’t me!” claimed Hal, a little too defensively and definitely too cheerfully.

“It didn’t just clog itself,” I muttered and headed into the bathroom.

“It really stinks in there!” Hal called out helpfully.

I lifted the toilet lid and what greeted me was of a magnitude unbelievable. With a certain amount of wishful thinking, I pushed the “big flush” button on our high efficiency toilet. It didn’t flush. Instead, I gagged and choked and covered my mouth as I watched through watery eyes all the brown chunky water, a log surely too big to have exited my young child’s rump, and reams of toilet paper swirl dangerously close to the rim.

I closed the toilet lid. I hurried from the room. I shut the door. Not my proudest moment, but it had been a long week. A tiring one.  Nearly a full work week covered over just three days, on the tail end of a 62 hour work week, and a long trip to take my husband to the airport very early that morning. Despite a couple of short naps that day, I was not ready to fight the battle of the poop. In my exhausted state, I declared it a task that could wait for morning.

And morning had come. And with it the fresh state of forgetfulness… until I had opened that door. I tried another hopeful flush. I gagged again. I left the room. Again. But this time to plan because even the most irresponsible of parents can surely not leave a toilet full of sh*t to stink up a room and eventually the entire house.

I found a box and a stick. The toilet paper, I had decided, needed to exit the bowl via the hole at the top instead of the hole at the bottom. I found a bandanna and wrapped it securely around my face. I entered the boys’ room. They looked up and did not bat an eye that their mother approached like a bandit robbing a stage coach.

“I have a task for you,” I said to Hal. “Get your shoes on. I’m going to be transferring some of the contents of the toilet into a box and then I want you to carry the box out to the burn pile. Do you want a bandanna to cover your nose?”

He nodded. Quietly. Like he wished there was a way out of this task but perhaps knowing that if his dad was home, it’d likely be Hal, and not his loving mother, who would be manually unclogging the toilet. He didn’t have the worst task and he knew it.

It was when I entered the room again with stick and box in hand that I noticed the razor. It struck me that if I didn’t have children, I wouldn’t have a clogged toilet and my razor would be where it should be.

Of course, I’d also be at work because what would be so special about Spring Break then? I’m all the richer, and wiser, and kinder, and more patient, for having children. But there are moments – like when I’m standing in a stinking room looking at my stolen razor through watering eyes – when I feel the price paid for those no-longer-little bundles of joy.

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In A Nutshell…

I haven’t had much time to blog lately and I don’t see that changing for awhile now. I’ve had a lot of ideas on things to write about but then things get in the way. Things like working overtime, my husband hogging the computer to work on our taxes, being too tired. Always too tired.

I planned to blog about our nearly-disastrous, certainly not-as-planned two-day Spring Break. The one that had us sit immobile on the interstate for nearly an hour because of downed power lines. And then we finally got to our destination to find it hopelessly overcrowded with no place to park. So we headed to Central Market. Yes, the Great Spring Break of 2015’s highlight was a trip to a grocery store.

But, you see, it was BaconFest! This cracked my husband and me up since Pandora had been ruthlessly advertising BaconFest during our morning workouts for weeks. We gave each kid a certain amount of money to spend and everyone had the time of their lives buying bagels, tortillas with bacon chunks in them, stinky cheese, fruit.

The next day, we traveled to another town 2 hours away just so Jane could see a couple of friends. Only one of them bailed. And the communication with the other wasn’t great. They still had a great time, although Daddy spent all his time unexpectedly ferrying people about. I played “Lunar Golf” (mini golf with glow-in-the-dark elements under black lights) with the two boys, who fought in such a ridiculous way that I was exhausted.

Trust me, the telling of their interaction was going to be so funny! Weeks ago, that is. Why bother now?

We drove from there to a town roughly halfway home so I could buy some wine from my new favorite winery. But they wouldn’t let me sample without sitting at a table and ordering a flight. Eight quickly consumed ounces of wine later (on an empty stomach), I was swaying at the counter buying 9 bottles of wine and joining their wine club.

And then we headed back home to some friends’ house, where we ate great food and drank more wine. All in all, a reasonably good but not-as-planned and way-too-short Spring Break. But all it gets is a light brush stroke because it’s simply not current.

Then there’s Daryl, who broke his right thumb last week. He’s the only kid in our family that is right handed. So now he’s in a splint and the school has to have a special meeting to secure permission for him to take his standardized tests without filling in the bubbles. He’ll read off his answers to a teacher who will fill in the bubbles for him. Assuming it’s all approved.

The tale of how he broke it (playing dodge ball at school) was a riveting tale as he shared it with me. I planned to share it with you. But the energy seems to have gone out of the moment and I no longer think I could do it justice.

Then there’s the ongoing Tooth Fairy near failures. Both Daryl and Hal lost teeth last week. I think Hal now has more holes than he does teeth. Some friends, some semi-local, some from two states away, came over Saturday night. I remarked at the beginning of the evening that I had to remember to perform my Tooth Fairy role for Hal.

Well… by the time everyone was loading up to go about 1:30 Sunday morning… yeah, I know… bad idea… anyway… by then, I had completely forgotten about the tooth. And in a lucky, saved-my-butt-but-also-demonstrated-what-a-lame-tooth-fairy-I-am move, one of the guests reminded me. Yes, one of the guests. In my defense, he was the only one who hadn’t been drinking. But still. He’s not even a parent!

Maybe that’s why he still has brain cells.

Then we get to today. When the big news was not who was announcing a run for the Presidency, not that voice recordings had been successfully removed from the black box in that horrific airline crash, not that Earth exists because Jupiter was a giant planet-eating monster back in the day.

No, the big news of the day was that Zayne Malik left One Direction. And my daughter’s world stopped spinning. It’s not the proudest moment of her life. She knows it’s silly and even stupid. Still, it is very raw and real to her.

She called her dad to leave school early. He wasn’t happy when he learned the reason. She cried and cried and cried. She threw away her teen magazines. She took the poster down from her wall – the one covered in lipsticky kisses. She can’t stand to see them now. She regrets not going to their concert last year. One Direction just isn’t One Direction without Zayne.

Some of her friends are supportive. Some are dismissive.

And it’s all so ridiculous. But it’s where she is. And it’s real. And I will do my best to not belittle her but to help her through it. Because, believe it or not, I can’t bring myself to dismiss her pain. Even if it is “just” over a boy band.

So there’s my last several weeks in a nutshell.

We shall see how long it takes me to crack the next nut.

Until then, take care.