If you're queasy, or in the middle of breakfast, don't read this post. Come back another time when I'll be writing about flying kites or riding ponies. This one isn't for the faint of heart. Proceed at your own risk.
About three weeks ago Henry shed his diapers and started using the toilet. (Alright, it wasn't as easy as it sounds -- it took three or four days, a few pounds of stress, and several cups of patience.)
Anyway, the good news (what we told friends) was that he was potty trained. The bad news (what we told only a select few) was that he really wasn't. Sure, he happily told us whenever he had to go pee-pee, but there was a dark secret that was rarely spoken outside of our house. Henry was only half way potty trained. In fact, more than two weeks after ditching the diapers, he still hadn't successfully crapped while sitting on the toilet.
There were two problems with this. First, Henry starts nursery school on September 7th, and we were fairly certain that his teachers wouldn't be too excited if he decided to make a "special delivery" during class. Second -- and of much greater concern to me -- was that for the past 15 to 20 days, Henry was still taking craps -- big, dirty, smelly craps -- right in his underwear.
To his credit, I think, he never tried to hide this. Usually he'd be playing outside or in his room, and then he'd come bouncing into the family room and announce, "Poo-poo, Daddy!" For just a second, every single time, a tiny little match would strike a flame of hope somewhere inside my heart and I'd hope that he was actually saying, "I have to go poo-poo, Daddy!" So I'd say, "Poo-poo??" and hope that this might be the day.
But then I'd gently pat his backside and feel a baseball-sized rock hiding in his pants, and the next fifteen minutes of my life would suddenly be laid out before me, like it or not. Non-parents sometimes cringe at the idea of changing a diaper. Child's play. I'd happily change a diaper in the middle of the dinner table, wiping with one hand while eating popcorn with the other. Some things, you can become immune to.
Dealing with a three-year-old's dirty underwear, however, is completely different. You can't just throw the SpongeBob underwear away, especially when you've spent the past month hyping up the SpongeBob underwear as being incredibly cool.
So you develop a system. First, you slowly take the underwear off of the giggling child, doing your best not to let the inconveniently baseball-shaped rock roll onto the floor. (You know should keep all fecal matter off of the floor, but you also know that this is impossible. You will always get fecal matter on the floor.)
Next, you flush the toilet. As soon as the package leaves the building, you immediately begin dipping the undies into the water, hoping like crazy that the force of the swirling water will wash away at least some of the residual crap. After the toilet stops flushing, you carefully balance the underwear on the rim of the toilet, perching it in such a way that no water will drip on the floor and only the unsoiled part of the underwear touches the toilet. Then you turn your attention to the child that you love.
For some reason your son is extremely interested in what's going on "back there." Every ten or fifteen seconds he'll ask, "Poo-poo back there, Daddy?" and start to reach around to check for himself since he doesn't always find your answers either quick enough or reliable. So as you're using baby wipe after baby wipe and putting them directly into the toilet even though you know you're not supposed to, you also have to constantly remind your still-giggling son (because what's more ticklish than having someone wipe your ass?) not to touch anything, especially not his butt. And as you're wiping with one hand and trying to keep him out of it with the other, you notice that he's rubbing his nose and scratching his cheek, and you wonder again about fecal matter.
Just as you finish wiping him, you notice that he has somehow gotten more than a little bit of crap on his foot, and there are now several little crap footprints decorating the bathroom floor. For a moment you're distracted by the fact that the pattern looks like something you might find on the floor of an Arthur Murray Dance Studio. What might the dance be called? The Fecal Dance? Poo-Poo Polka? Shit-Print Shuffle?
Back to work, you wipe up the dance steps and get back to the underwear. For the first time, your son seems a bit concerned. "Poo-poo on SpongeBob?" You clean away, scrubbing and flushing, flushing and scrubbing, all the while reminding your son that they might send him home from nursery school if he goes poo-poo in his pants like this.
With everything and everyone finally clean, you wash your hands and take the underwear (and shorts, if necessary) directly to the garage, doing your best not to touch anything because you wouldn't want to get fecal matter on, say, the doorknob. When you return you wash your hands again, then return to the bathroom with some disinfectant to clean the toilet, the dance floor, and any other surfaces that have been compromised. That done, you wash your hands for the third time. Depending upon the severity of the incident, your son gets either a bath or clean pair of underwear, and you're finally done.
All of that is hopefully behind me. This afternoon I suggested to Henry that he might want to sit on the potty and try to go poo-poo. At first he said no, but then I reminded him of the bag of licorice that would be his if he could make a drop, and his eyes lit up as he climbed on the body. "A lot of licorice, Daddy?" Yes, Henry, the whole bag. "O!K!"
After a few minutes he wanted off, but I simply upped the ante and promised a trip for ice cream. That bought me another ten minutes, but after a while I had no choice but to let him down. "It's okay, Henry. I'm proud of you for trying."
Now here comes the magic part. After lifting him off the toilet, we both looked in and saw the most beautiful little crap you've ever seen! With angels singing in the background, we both looked at each other with pride, and I told him only half-jokingly, "Henry, this is the best day of my life."
I then proceeded to wipe his ass with a smile.