We just returned from a weekend trip to Disney World, and, of course, I have a poop story to tell. (For the record, I also have pee story about a boy and a lei at a luau, but that’s a tale for another day.)
As my boys get older, I worry about telling pee and poop stories for obvious reasons. But in this instance, there are valuable lessons to be learned, and thus, I I’m sharing it because it’s in the poopy trenches of Mamahood that we earn our stripes (and glasses of wine at the end of the day).
We made a brief stop at Downtown Disney on Sunday morning because we didn’t get a chance to shop on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom the day before. Dylan predictably chose an Iron Man Lego set at the Lego store, and Riley unpredictably chose a Pirates of the Caribbean treasure box play set at my suggestion and in less than ten minutes, which was a personal record for my adorable but slowest shopper ever. After the shopping was complete, we grabbed lunch before hitting the road. On our walk back to the car, I asked both children, “Do you need to go to the bathroom? Daddy and I don’t plan to make any stops on the drive home. If you need to go to the bathroom, you should go now. Do you need to go?”
Lesson One: Don’t ask if your children need to use the bathroom; rather command them to go.
Once we pulled out of the zoo of a parking lot at Downtown Disney, which was chock full of clean restrooms, Riley announced, “I have to poop! It’s coming! I have to go really, really badly!”
And just like that, our relaxing retreat at the Happiest Place on Earth was over. With a bang.
“What?!?!” I yelled. “Keep it inside!”
“I can’t!” he said.
“Don’t let it out! You’re a big boy. You can do it. I know you can!”
Lesson Two: In a situation like this, be descriptive and explicit, appeal to their maturity, and stay positive.
It took about ten excruciating minutes of stop and go traffic, red lights, multiple “Don’t let it outs!” and general panic from everyone in the car (except Dylan who was happily playing Subway Surfer on his Kindle and clearly grateful that the chaos had nothing to do with him) before we finally pulled into a Chevron station. The store looked decent, so I had high hopes for the bathroom, especially since we’d be in there for an eternity. While Mike pumped the gas, Riley and I, both in a cold sweat, rushed into the store and swiftly asked the woman behind the counter, “Where’s your bathroom?”
Her response was, “I’m sorry, Hon. The bathrooms are out of order.”
Lesson Three: Expect the unexpected. Always.
I rushed Riley back to the car so we could find another bathroom, which I knew would require approximately six traffic lights and twelve U-turns and by then it would be too late. Mike’s brilliant solution was to let him poop in the bushes behind the gas station.
Lesson Four: Never ever leave the children alone with Daddy.
Flabbergasted and terrified of poop happening in all the wrong places, I hurled Riley into his booster seat. As I fumbled with his seatbelt, he reached forward to grab his Kindle from the seat pocket.
“Riley,” I said annoyed, “I need to buckle you first because we have to find another bathroom. Quickly.”
He said, “It’s okay, I don’t have to go anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I don’t have to poop.”
“Riley,” I said through gritted teeth, “Once we get on the highway, we’re not stopping for three and a half hours. You’re telling me you don’t need to pee or poop?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Riley, why did you tell us you had to poop and then yell and scream all the way to the gas station?” I asked.
“It was a joke,” he said.
Lesson Five: Children are ridiculous.
“Riley,” I said relieved and furious all at once, “That’s not a funny joke. That’s the kind of joke that could get you in big trouble. Like yelling fire when there is none or yelling for help in a pool when you don’t really need it. Do you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?
“Yes,” he said.
“Do you understand why your joke wasn’t funny?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Can I have my Kindle now?”
It should be noted that it was approximately 11:45am and for reasons unknown I hadn’t had a cup of coffee yet. I decided that his punishment would be twenty years of hard labor forcing him to go to the bathroom whether he wanted to or not and that the sentence would be carried out at a Starbucks, because surely I deserved a grande skim iced latte for being the Mama of this absurd child.
He begrudgingly peed at Starbucks while I sipped my coffee, and three and a half hours later he walked into the front door of our house and went straight to the bathroom and, you guessed it, pooped.
Lesson Six: Poop happens. (If you’re lucky, in a toilet.)