Over the weekend, I was finishing up some dishes while my two-year-old daughter played quietly in her room. Without warning, she burst into the kitchen and asked me a question that would send any reasonable parent of a potty training toddler into a full-fledged freakin' panic: "Where is my poop, momma?"
I tried to remain calm, but my brain immediately conjured up forty-six possible worst case scenarios which came flying through my mind in the form of rapid-fire questions. Where is her poop? What has she touched? Did she put her hands in her mouth? Should I call the doctor? Will she contract e-coli? Do I have time for a Pedialyte run before the diarrhea starts? Where are the rubber gloves and high-hide primer? Am I going to have to spend the rest of the weekend disinfecting every single surface in her bedroom? How will I manage the fallout when I'm throwing away all her stuffed animals?
Panic started to set in. Maybe I misheard her. I asked her to repeat the question. She responded emphatically, "WHERE IS MY POOP?" Clear as day. I managed to muster up a weak "I don't know" before dropping the dishes into the sink and making my way towards her bedroom.
The walk down our fifteen-foot hallway seemed much longer than usual that afternoon. Maybe it was the strong sense of impending doom? Because let's face it: Nobody looks forward to poop surprises. NOBODY. In a futile attempt to calm down, I took a few deep breaths and envisioned myself on a tropical island enjoying a margarita, far, far away from all of the feces.
We got to her room where there was no overt evidence of any damage. I checked under her blankets, and then we looked in the closet, bookshelf, toy box, and night stand. No poop. I did a quick sniff test (so gross) of her dresser drawers, which she can't even open as far as I can tell. It was like a sick and twisted game of hide and seek. Thankfully(?), we weren't able to find any poop. I spent the rest of the afternoon slightly on edge, thinking I'd eventually come across a disgusting surprise while putting towels away or swiffering under my bed.
After the shit storm had died down, we settled in on the couch to catch the latest episode of Barney. I put my feet up and thought about how days like this make me so thankful for that flamboyant purple dinosaur. As I was browsing through the DVR trying to find an episode without Baby Bop—because her voice makes my ears bleed—my daughter began shrieking with glee, "MY POOP! MY POOP!"
And there it was, right behind the couch where she left it: her hula hoop.
An earlier version of this post was originally published here.
Jess Ullrich is a professional writer and mom to two girls, ages four months and two years. She's really freakin' busy right now, but still posts regularly at her blog, The Momma Review.
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