Every parent has a poop story. I hope this one is mine because I can’t imagine a story that could be worse. I’m really not looking for something to top this.
Our two-year-old son, Wolfy, and I were tagging along on my husband’s work trip. While my husband was in meetings, I brought Wolfy to a playground. Wolfy is potty-training so when he says he has to go, he really has to go. As we were leaving the playground, Wolfy told me he needed to pee. I scanned the area and there were no bathrooms anywhere. There were no stores anywhere either. Quickly, I led Wolfy into a nearby patch of woods.
He pulled down his pants and seemed like he was getting ready to aim his urine at some nearby leaves. But instead, all that came out was poop. A lot of poop. First it landed on the ground behind him. Then some of it landed inside his pants. This scared him and he tried to move away but he started stepping all over it. I was totally frozen in shock.
“I want to poop in my potty!” Wolfy wailed. I unfroze myself and rushed over to try to… I don’t even know what I was going to try to do.
The damage had already been done. Then he peed on my shoe.
I managed to get Wolfy over to a little concrete wall and have him sit there away from the broken glass, which I now noticed was everywhere. I had been so fixated on giving my son privacy that I hadn’t noticed what a terrible spot I had chosen for him to relieve himself. I stripped Wolfy down and used a million baby wipes to clean him up. I even cleaned up the poop that was on the ground.
I knew that what had happened was an accident and that if I got upset, it would only make Wolfy feel ashamed. So, I kept my cool even when poop got on my hand and there was nothing but a measly baby wipe to clean it off.
Fast forward a few hours…
Our family was finally led to our table at a busy restaurant. Wolfy was an emotional mess. He’d had a long day with only one a ten minute nap. My husband and I were also tired and hungry and doing the hungry-bicker thing about nothing. The over-crowded restaurant was loud and in addition to the noise, there was music blaring on a speaker directly over our table. But at least this place had margaritas on special so my husband and I each ordered one.
Wolfy was behaving like a typical over-tired, hungry toddler: whining about everything, knocking over the salt shakers, kicking off his shoes, throwing the crayons across the table, and banging his silverware on the table. He insisted I take the lid off his cup of water. My husband announced that he had a headache and that everything just kind of sucked.
I kept thinking to myself, ‘We just wanted to have a nice meal out. How hard is that?’
Then Wolfy spilled his whole glass of water. The coloring book got soaked. Our bench seat was soaked. Wolfy was soaked. We used all of our napkins trying to mop up the water.
A few minutes later, waitress brought our drinks. Finally, I could have that first well-deserved sip of my margarita. My mouth watered in anticipation of how good it would taste. I reached over to pick up my glass and I spilled it. All of it. The whole table was coated in the sticky, smelly drink. My clothes were coated in it too.
A lady at the next table across from us, who I hadn’t even noticed before, leaned over and handed me a pile of napkins. And this is when I finally broke down.
I broke down because I was so utterly embarrassed.
I broke down because I realized how other people must see our family in this terrible moment. I started crying because I realized we looked vulnerable and pathetic and dysfunctional to the outside world.
These people in the restaurant didn’t know about my heroic effort during the poop incident at the playground. They didn’t see the hour before the poop incident when I held Wolfy on my lap and went down the slide over and over again and how it made us both laugh.
In this snapshot, all these strangers saw was an unhappy family.
They saw two totally ineffectual parents arguing about stupid stuff and trying to discipline their toddler and having every tactic fail miserably.
I tried to hide my tears as I accepted the napkins and began to wipe up yet another mess.
“Don’t worry,” my husband said, “We’ll order you another margarita.” And he did. And the food came and we ate it and we felt better. Wolfy started listening to us and we stopped arguing.
After dinner, we took a walk around the abandoned lot next to our hotel and as the sun goes down, we taught Wolfy how to blow the fluff off of dandelions.