Heater, Mother of Lance

Dinner etiquette

My cousin Mckenzie who usually watches Marlo during the day has been out of town this week, so Cami stepped in to provide childcare. Cami and her brother used to share a car, and I’m not sure what the exact story is behind why they no longer have that car, so let’s just pretend that it involves drug trafficking, Adderall, a stolen Glock 17, a high-speed chase involving law enforcement, the BYU honor code, and a hooker with a third nipple.

Sound good? Cool.

Point is, she hasn’t got transportation, so she’s just staying over all week. CUE THE RUMORS. Cami and I are a couple now, AREN’T WE? AREN’T WE? Heather Armstrong was a lesbian THIS WHOLE TIME. Scandalous! Scandals! Candles! Candies! Scabies! Rabies! BABIES!

No, we’re not dating. I know, shake your head. WHY AM I SO BORING. She’s engaged to a very lovely man, but in the meantime we just play sister wives on my blog.


We were having dinner last night with the girls, and Marlo really wanted a “chocwhut” treat. But the rule is that when we have a treat after dinner (that’s right, we don’t always have a treat after dinner, it’s practically a Mexican prison around here), you have to finish your meal first. You can’t leave half of a frozen burrito sitting there as if I didn’t just slave over pushing the buttons on the microwave. The tip of my index finger gets mad just thinking about it.

Her meal happened to include a side bowl of watermelon which she absolutely loves, but she was a lot more interested in skipping that part and diving head first into a bag of M&M’s. But here’s the thing: Marlo takes very much after her sister and other members of her immediate family in that the circuitry involved in the production and elimination of her excrement doesn’t work. Okay, FINE. Kid doesn’t poop. There. I said it. POOP. Have you missed me?

It’s a total nightmare. I won’t get into all the gory details because HOOOO. You most certainly do not need that imagery, but the gist is that she can hold it for nine straight days. One, two, three, four, NINE. That is all of the days. All of them. There are no more days left on earth because she used every single one to hold in her poop.

I have experience in remedying this type of situation, and in addition to supplementing her diet with a harsh chemical laxative that melts steel I make sure to feed her things that will discourage such bad behavior. It’s like, really? You aren’t going to poop? FINE. I’m throwing away all your toys and SANTA IS DEAD. WHAT NOW?

Lots of water and lots of fruit. That’s where the watermelon comes in, and last night as she was asking again for the “chocwhut,” I looked at her across the table and said, “Listen. You have to finish your watermelon so that you’ll go poop.”

I guess I never took the time to explain to her the dietary benefits of fruit, because she did a double-take, and then another one, AND THEN ANOTHER ONE, squinted her eyes like she was trying to figure out what had just happened, and then she looked at Cami like WTF?! Like, why is that woman talking about poop right now? Where in this discussion did the topic of poop fit in? You’re with me, right, Cami? Like, that woman is crazy. WHAT A TOTAL EFFING NUTTER.

That’s when both Cami and I fell into the floor laughing.

“Did you see that?” she asked me as she tried to catch her breath.

“Did I see that?” I answered. “Did I see how she basically just called me an insane poop talker right in front of my face? Yeah. I saw that.”

  • The Dalai Mama

    2012/06/06 at 3:03 pm

    I would totally think that my son is a long lost member of you family, aside from the fact that he was born in Ethiopia. He is a total poop holder. He would rather his bowels explode inside then to sit on the toilet and do it on a regular basis. He understand that fruit and veggies would help–but has a strong aversion to them. And I can’t bribe him with chocolate treats-as he isn’t a fan of candy.

  • Diorama

    2012/06/06 at 3:22 pm

    Raisin Bran. Feed her raisin bran. Or buy bran flakes and add your own raisins. It works. Enemas are better than laxatives in my opinion, and what a blog post that could be. I worry that it’s toxic for her to hold it in like that. Do they have colonics for toddlers?

  • beattiestudios

    2012/06/06 at 3:31 pm

    ROTFL!!!!!! My 3.5 year old just went on a poop strike for four days and I thought that was a long time. Especially because the pain she went through to hold it in was heartbreaking. We did lots of walking at SeaWorld on a mommy/daughter date and the poop came. So she is now a POOPER again and we are all happy. As always with your posts, perfect timing Armstrong…perfect timing.



  • Jeezus Beezus

    2012/06/06 at 3:35 pm

    Best.story.ever. Thanks for brightening my day.

  • KSides

    2012/06/06 at 3:48 pm

    Pedia-lax fiber gummies. My son has the same issues and I SWEAR by them. Two in the morning, two at night, and number two comes regularly with no pain!

  • Babydoll

    2012/06/06 at 3:56 pm

    Insane poop talker?! I love that!

    It’s like some offbeat version of being a Dog Whisperer. Yours is much hipper, though.

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2012/06/06 at 4:54 pm

    If you’d asked me ten years ago whether or not I’d think kids’ poop was remotely interesting or funny or worthy of conversation, I would have looked at you like you were just saying shit.

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen. POOP!!! ::cackling hysterically::

  • tigerlamb

    2012/06/06 at 5:10 pm

    We have the same bowel inheritance issues.

    Oatmeal and fruit. I buy tonnes of fruit (in season) and let our little one eat whatever fruit she wants ANY time she wants it. She eats about 5-7 pieces of fruit every day. If she misses her regular intake, she gets bunged up and it is heartbreaking seeing her in pain.

    I have found that having variety ensures she eats enough fruit everyday. Coz, let’s face it – who wants to eat the same fruit everyday?

    Presently, we have pears, bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, avocados (they make a lovely smoothy drink with honey), passion fruit, and raspberries.

    Oh. And Prunes.
    I know. But wait. Let me ‘splain.
    We keep the jar of prunes in the cupboard of treats.
    She thinks they are as special as chocolate. Ha!
    Although, I never ever give prunes and chocolate near the same time….lest she compare them.
    She actually pines for prunes like she does for chocolate. (I’m totally air pumping my fist – shut up).

    A small enema is wonderful for children who are bunged up. Just a small amount will stimulate her sigmoid colon and give her instant relief. Don’t be afraid to try it. It used to be ‘the order of the day’ with toddlers. 🙂

  • Alisan

    2012/06/06 at 5:13 pm

    Oh, the poop issues we’ve had at our house! They’ve included the issue of a preschooler “withholding” poop. Vicious cycle of constipation/withholding due to previous painful experience/painful poop/constipation/withholding . . . you know the drill. What worked for us is Kondremul. It’s over-the-counter flavored mineral oil. Pharmacies don’t usually keep it in stock, but they can order it for you. Regular mineral oil would work, but successfully getting Marlo to swallow plain mineral oil might not work out so well. But it could make a great story, so why don’t you try that and let us know how it goes.

    The good thing about mineral oil of any sort is that it doesn’t get absorbed by the body, it just lubes up the digestive tract so that you *can’t* hold it anymore — thereby breaking the cycle.

    My (now) 15-year-old son would be mortified if he knew I’m about to post this information about him. I’m going to mess with him now. Serves him right for putting me through Poop(less) Hell when he was three.

  • kalala31

    2012/06/06 at 5:33 pm

    Lol… thanks for the laugh!

  • kristanhoffman

    2012/06/06 at 5:42 pm

    Animated gif or it didn’t happen. 😛

  • tokenblogger

    2012/06/06 at 6:17 pm

    Forget any laxative/fiber additives advice. Stick with water and fruit.

    Pears and peaches are really good at moving things through, too.

  • zziggysgal

    2012/06/06 at 6:42 pm

    OMG! I soooo LOVE your stories – all these years and you still make me laugh out loud!
    Thanks for being you!

  • lkb827

    2012/06/06 at 6:46 pm

    We have the same issues with our son who is 2.5. Unfortunately, it does not matter how much fruit he eats, which has always been a lot. The idea that fiber helps with constipation is really a myth, and I’m sure you’ve seen how it doesn’t work if she can go 9 days. Check out the Weston A Price foundation’s website. Also check out Fiber Menace, and while I don’t subscribe to all of it, there are a lot of things that make sense to me, similar to how the Paleo diet makes sense.

    I will also suggest that you add Magnesium to your diet (all of you). Most people are deficient and that can be a major contributor to constipation. There is a powder called Natural Calm that you should be able to find at your local Co-op. I started with giving my toddler 1tsp mixed in a little water that I would then add to some juice (fresh pressed in our juicer – 50/50 veggies & fruit). Do that once/day until she gets a little regular, and decrease if stool gets too loose (sorry if TMI but we are talking poop here). You can also add Epsom salts to her bath as that is magnesium too. I add 1/2-1 cup. I also bought some magnesium oil for myself and apply that at night. It helps with calming your nerves & helping to sleep better. I plan to use the oil on my son but will probably start with diluting it 50/50 with water as it tingles/stings on the skin. You can wash it off after 20-30 min but I find that it doesn’t bother me that bad. As you build up your magnesium, that lessens.

    Hope you find this helpful. I tried the fiber route, cutting out cow’s milk, more fruit, more water, etc. & nothing worked until we added the magnesium. You should also be taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil (Green Pasture is best) as the health benefits are incredible, and helps with this too. We buy the orange flaver & just mix it in some juice.

    BTW, love your blog! It’s one of the first things I go to everyday. Thanks for sharing all that you do about your family. Your girls are lucky to have such a great mama!


  • Caren Lynn Cross

    2012/06/06 at 6:47 pm

    Fucking awesome.

  • spelyea

    2012/06/06 at 8:03 pm


    i know it’s not *conventional* but a little bit is aight. and works.

    my son is 6.5 and i still have to make him try to poop once a day.
    if i didn’t keep track who knows how long he’d go.
    what’s UP with that??

    the things they don’t tell you when you sign up to be a mama…..

  • Jalima

    2012/06/06 at 8:21 pm

    Oh dear. Heather you have armed her with the fact that you WANT her to poop on a regular basis. This means WAR 😉

    Keep on pushing the fruit, bran and water and ask her excitedly how many days she thinks she can hold the poops IN.

    If she is anything like my rotters at that age she will poop just to spite you!

  • Jalima

    2012/06/06 at 8:22 pm

    (And if that doesn’t work give her a cig and a coffee, works for me.) Heh.

  • hanniy

    2012/06/06 at 9:20 pm

    My daughter has had issues, too (although with her, if she doesn’t go for a day she doesn’t feel good). She has always eaten quite healthy foods – lots of fruit and veggies….but she’d still get stopped up. I now give her a few spoonfuls of ground flaxseed in some juice in the morning, along with a little powdered magnesium citrate and it has worked wonders! No more tummy aches, thank goodness!

    Good luck!

    PS And as someone mentioned above, a little coffee doesn’t hurt, either…

  • Colgate

    2012/06/06 at 9:35 pm

    Oh man! Laughing. Out. Loud! Thank you for that!

  • addie877

    2012/06/06 at 9:54 pm

    Oh the poop! We’ve had two kids that wouldn’t. And oh, the advice I got, try this, try that, this will work for sure…Uhhh, nope. Sorry…Our daughter figured it out when she got out of diapers…but our 3rd child? Good golly!! He went 14 days.On day 10 I took him to the doctor and after x-rays and all, she looked at the 2.5 year old and said, “YOU.NEED.TO.POOP!” …well, he didn’t listen. Waited a couple more days and finally got that bad boy out…His poor tummy would get so big. Never knew someone elses pooping regularity could give me so much anxiety.

    They say that the two things kids have complete control over are eating and pooping. You can’t force them to do either. Bottom line is that they have complete control over those things.

  • SurprisingWoman

    2012/06/06 at 10:48 pm

    Cantaloupe is my grandson’s kryptonite.

    What ever it takes. Good on ya for knowing to increase water and fiber.

    PS Mom’s don’t always need to share their secrets so here’s hoping this is the first of a long line of “OMG” moments. It’s nice to always be a surprise.

  • tinacolada97

    2012/06/06 at 11:02 pm

    Just before my son decided to use the toilet (it literally happened overnight—he woke up one morning and thought “hey I should crap in the toilet now!”) I could count on one hand the number of truly solid poos he had made. Constipated? Never. Poop holder? Nope. But BELIEVE ME, it’s a WHOLE. OTHER. PROBLEM.

  • Swedelover

    2012/06/06 at 11:09 pm

    lkb827 is right on! Here’s the website: http://www.westonaprice.org/

    Hope the problem is resolved soon and thanks for the laughs! You’re a good egg, Heather 🙂

  • Leobenlover

    2012/06/07 at 1:47 am

    Does popcorn work? It works for me. I mean it didn’t as a kid but I eat insane amounts now and it works.

    Really what is the reason kids hold poop? I did it as a kid and I have no idea why. Could be stress. Insane drunk, drug addicted father and a family in denial. So yeah, maybe stress.

  • Leobenlover

    2012/06/07 at 1:48 am

    I gotta say Heather, I love your blog. It’s the only public place I get to talk about poop. Well the only public place I can talk about poop and not get shushed. Or kicked out.

  • dejavu2

    2012/06/07 at 7:59 am

    This will do the trick…1/2 tablespoon a day:) I have a six-year old poop withholder too…though finding the right dose of magnesium is tricky! Too much and you’ll have quite the opposite problem…


    I heard someone say once that the only two things kids can control in their little lives are what goes in and what comes out…hence the poop withholding and picky eaters!

  • mollynick

    2012/06/07 at 9:01 am

    “The tip of my index finger gets mad just thinking about it.”

    As if I needed a reminder about why I read this blog! You make me laugh out loud.

  • CharleneGTM

    2012/06/07 at 9:53 am

    I am and always have been a casual pooper (once a week, maybe twice on holidays). Sadly my mother did not have your commitment to bowel development, so I did not learn that other people went more than this until my teens.

    My best friend was joking about her favourite stall at school and I was like why do you need to go at school? Why don’t you just time it for the weekend? And her face told me I was not like the other kids. It blew my mind for months, how do people have time for that shit?

  • Steph Bachman

    2012/06/07 at 9:56 am

    Another crazy poop talker here.

    2 things: (1) for my poop-challenged kid, the magic bullet is a container full of raisins and craisins – administer daily until poopage occurs, and (2) bottom wipes must be available for the poop to happen – we don’t know why. We just keep buying the bottom wipes.

  • artmeetslife

    2012/06/07 at 3:14 pm

    You’re baaaaaaack.

  • TigerLily

    2012/06/07 at 4:15 pm

    @artmeetslife: Exactly what I was thinking! Welcome back, Heather!

  • sabina

    2012/06/08 at 3:18 am

    That was hilarious. Thanks for a much-needed laugh.

  • Ezza

    2012/06/10 at 9:44 pm

    Hi. My name’s Erin and I’m a poop withholder.

    I’ve always had trouble pooping. When I was a toddler, my mother was baffled by the way every poop turned into a broadway production, complete with dressing room and curtain call.

    I spent most of my life constipated, but wasn’t really aware of it. I just thought everybody else was putting as much effort into pooping as I was.

    My stomach troubles reached critical mass in my mid twenties, and I was diagnosed with fructose malapsorption. One of the instructions was to give up eating wheat (which of course, the constipated are stuffing themselves with as a method of increasing the intake of FIBRE. Conventional medicine? Why you so stoopid?) Fourty eight hours after my last (ever) slice of toast…

    I did a people poop.

    It just happened, so easily and with almost no effort on my part.
    I shall shit now, and thus I have shat.

    I called my mother, ‘THIS IS HOW PEOPLE POOP?!! ALL THIS TIME?!!WTFFFF??’

    So now, on the odd occasion that I break the rules and find myself in a bit of a back-alley traffic jam, I get some kiwi fruit into me to get that poop outta me.

    So give Marlo a hug from me. I’m hearin’ ya, homegirl.x

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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