the smell of my desperation has become a stench

That old familiar topic

Leta takes piano lessons every Thursday night, and her teacher lives far enough across the city that the most economical use of my time after I drop her off is to run errands. Or sit in the car outside and throw pennies at squirrels. Don’t worry! My aim is terrible.

Last week I had Marlo with me, so I parked the car and she and I took a walk while Leta labored away at the keys inside. However, we had to cut that long walk short because she was starting to do That Thing that toddlers do when they need to go to the bathroom. One toddler’s Thing may be different from another toddler’s Thing, but more than likely you can identify your toddler’s Thing within seconds even though your toddler is certain they are being sneaky about it. I once knew a toddler who would start to sing in a really high-pitched voice thinking that it would distract everyone around him from the fact that he was pooping. No surprise he became known as The Falsetto Pooper.

Marlo lies down and pretends she’s sick. When we are at home she grabs a blanket and crawls up onto the couch and babbles about needing medicine. But last Thursday night we were out on the sidewalk. No couch. No blanket. So she led me by the hand to someone’s porch, had me sit down and demanded that I take off my coat to give to her as a blanket. And then, very much like Chuck gave Cami his fart, she climbed up into my lap and gave me her poop.

So sweet. So fragrant. So convenient. I LOVE changing diapers out in nature! Remember all those times I’ve written about taking the girls camping?!

We walked back to the car and I popped open the back so that I could lay her on a horizontal surface. As I reached for the bag of supplies she looked up at the ceiling of the car and yelled, “We’re in the garage! How’d that happen?!”

And yeah, wow. She had saved up a doozy. I could feel my face melting off as the scent wafted all around like some sinister, silent killer. I was trying to figure out how to dispose of the thing and realized there was no way I could drive it all the way home, no way. The wheels would fall off of the car within a half mile.

What to do… what to do… hm… I wasn’t going to leave it sitting on the curb, that would have been uncivilized. I save all of that behavior for the Internet.

So I looked up and down the street, and what do you know! It was garbage day for that neighborhood! Several houses still had their cans sitting in the street! The Universe was about to use me and that diaper to make someone reconsider their skepticism of karma.

So I wrapped up the dirty diaper inside another clean diaper, took Marlo by the hand and told her to be quiet. We had a mission. Which house? Which can? This one? Yeah? So we chose a victim. Together. I lifted up the top of the can and stared into emptiness. Sad, menacing emptiness. This dirty diaper would be that can’s only item. And when the owners eventually opened the can to toss in an innocent bag of garbage they’d be all DAMMIT! I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE KEYED MY SISTER’S CAR!

  • willibaldoea

    2012/04/05 at 4:43 pm

    What a shitty story. Payback really stinks – especially for that person. But what were you supposed to do? You were doing your duty as a mother. You couldn’t just flush those responsibilities down the toilet, now could you?

    Hope those people aren’t super anal about smells.

  • Babydoll

    2012/04/05 at 4:49 pm

    Even, or should I say especially, when you write about poop – I love your writing.

  • tinacolada97

    2012/04/05 at 4:57 pm

    If you wrapped it up in another diaper, I say fair game. People who walk their dogs on our street pick up the poop in plastic bags and put it in random garbage cans. I’ve seen them do it. And it doesn’t bother me. I’d rather have someone do that than leave the diaper or poop bag on the street (or leave the poop in my yard).

    But I also have a kid about Marlo’s age, and I might just be desensitized to poop altogether.

  • Utahcouple

    2012/04/05 at 5:13 pm

    I also live on a street where a lot of dog poop is thrown in my trash cans. Unfortunately, the idiots disposing of the poop don’t know the difference between the 3 bins (garbage/recycle/yard waste) so I get to go digging for dog poop every Sunday. And I don’t even own a dog. I really need to make a sign that says “put poop in THIS bin”. Damn karma.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2012/04/05 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for reminding me how much I don’t miss changing my children’s diapers. Especially my always-off-the-chart-sized son, who wouldn’t comply with potty training for the longest time … and whose bowel movements? Also off-the-chart-sized. Which I’m sure you wanted to know. You’re welcome.

  • Carabeth

    2012/04/05 at 6:01 pm

    My Daughter, (Leta’s age) toally did that whole sick to the stomach thing too. To the point that I took her to the Dr. (even though I really knew it was just her working up to a poop). He concured, and his explanation was to point out how their bodies are so much smaller and closer together that everything it probably does feel that way to them. Now though, whenever either one of my kids tells me their stomach is bothering them, I just assume that they have to poop and they’ll be fine, and go back to eating my bon-bons!

  • tawatson

    2012/04/05 at 10:42 pm

    As I read your story I couldn’t help but giggle to myself. Both of my children have absolutely no shame in where or how they poop. And though mine are three years apart, they both make the very same face when the ‘do’ their business.

    Who knew the family truckster could make such a great child changing table?! I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s resorted to this in public. Not sure if car makers thought of fold-down seats in this way but leave it to moms to find yet another use for ordinary things!

  • cmckinnon1

    2012/04/06 at 4:32 am

    I always carry plastic bags in the diaper bag for that exact purpose of containing the stink. Also, thanks for the heads-up/meta-awreness of the poop behavior. I have know it, but not analyzed it until just now but yeah, one of my two year olds totally hides under the living room table when she is pooping. I have to figure out the other one’s sign.

  • Kbee

    2012/04/06 at 6:48 am

    I call that being resourceful. I once changed my daughter’s diaper on the main green of my local college campus. They have bins out there and I figured, hey, I was doing my bit for birth control.

  • RyantheGirl

    2012/04/06 at 7:14 am

    Wow, I’m so glad I read that while eating breakfast…

  • debramac

    2012/04/06 at 7:18 am

    Dude. I never ever criticize you ever. I never judge you. But sometimes you have to suck it up and do the right thing. THAT DIAPER BELONGED AT TYRANTS HOUSE!
    Damn. Payback is a mofo and sometimes you gotta take one for the team. Mourning the missed opportunity of it all. I’ll try to carry on but I’m weeping. You hold it out the window until you get there.
    Now THAT would be funny. Maybe that fucking arm could be sticking out of it!

  • debramac

    2012/04/06 at 7:24 am

    We’re in the garage! How’d that happen?!

    That’s also funny. Kiddie quantum leap!

  • Hesperleigh

    2012/04/06 at 7:35 am

    Love it. My little guy (almost 3) goes to his room, closes the door and does his thang in privacy. If someone tries to come in he yells at us to get out. Of course, he has no problem interrupting everyone else’s “private time”. Although he is completely potty trained when it comes to peeing, he absolutely refuses to go #2 on the pot. But, I guess I’m glad he doesn’t do #2 out in public anymore either.

  • CourtneySue

    2012/04/06 at 12:40 pm

    One of my sisters used to poop under our dining room table. Whenever she’d hide under there, my mom would instantly know what was up. Unfortunately, this was AFTER she’d stopped using diapers! She’s never had a good relationship with bathrooms…

  • AliciaMaria

    2012/04/06 at 6:41 pm

    Aahahahaha I totally laughed out loud when I read the “We’re in the garage!” part.. So funny!

  • Ethel Poostain

    2012/04/07 at 12:38 pm

    Yuck. If I saw you emptying that into my bin I’d go and rub it all over your car.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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