With small children in the house, I look forward to certain daily events. Bath time is near the top of my list (only slightly down from nap time). I love the adorable bubble beards, frothy hair and sweet-smelling children.
One evening as the children were making bubble soup, my eldest suddenly yelled, “Mom! Gracie pooped in the tub! There’s poop! Eeeww!” I turned from getting clean towels and saw my oldest daughter, then 5, scrambling out of the tub. Gracie, 2, sat in the tub looking stunned.
I had absolutely no idea how to proceed from here. As the mother of two, you’d think that I would be well prepared for most poop-related events. However, no one had ever told me about poop in the tub, and I had blissfully managed to avoid the experience with my older child.
I stood frozen for a moment while my brain slowly processed this new experience. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I had a choice — I could react in a firm, but playful manner, discussing the importance of not pooping in the tub and calmly disinfecting everyone and the 3,000 toys that were in the contaminated water. Or, I could shriek like a maniac, pull the children to safety, and loudly proclaim that we DO NOT poop in the tub.
I went with my gut. Shrieking, I grabbed the children, wrapped them in clean towels (that would now have to be disinfected) and carried them to my non-poopy shower. My 5 year old dramatically re-told the event during the whole shower, and Gracie still looked a little shell-shocked (perhaps due to my continual mantra that we DO NOT poop in the tub). After disinfecting the children, I drained the tub, washed my hands with a hospital-style scrub, and set up a bio hazard perimeter.
How does one get poop out of the tub? I had no idea. After multiple discarded plans, one of which was to wait until my husband came home to deal with the toxic waste situation (cowardly, I know), I decided it was best to use a plentiful supply of toilet paper and just grab the floaties that had run aground. I did so, and went through a gag routine worthy of an Oscar. (I wonder where the 5 year old gets her dramatic side from?) I have daily dealings with poop, but excrement not contained in the diaper was a whole ’nother country.
After the de-contamination process was complete (on both the children, the tub, and the toys in the tub — which I washed with bleach in the washing machine — can you even do that?), I thought about my reaction to the situation (I mean, honestly, it was just poop). As a parent in the trenches, there is not a lot of time for introspection. But I wondered if I had missed an opportunity to just laugh with my children. After this, I had a 2 year old who wore a swim diaper in the tub and stated emphatically, “No, no poop in tub” every time she came near the site of the disaster. Luckily, parenting provides constant opportunities for growth and improvement. I will think back to this adventure with the next unexpected event — like the one that happened today at nap time: poop finger-painting anyone?
Melissa Caddell is raising three chatty girls (ages 13, 10, and 6) alongside her husband, Casey. She is a coffee snob, loves family movie night, and writes from the relative quiet of her closet.
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