the smell of my desperation has become a stench

I could just post this photo and it would tell the whole story


My internal clock has been waking me up at about 6:45 every morning in anticipation of hearing Marlo on the monitor saying, “Mom? Come get me. Mom? Come get me.” I should record her saying that at some point. It’s adorable because of her almost four-year-old voice, yes, but also because she’s basically saying, “I surrender, you asshole.”

She doesn’t come out until I go in. I won. Game, set, match. Neener.

She’s usually up before Leta, but I guess the physical energy she’s been expending trying to avoid going to the bathroom has worn her out. It’s nothing major, in fact, a lot of the kids on my side of the family have gone through this phase where going to the bathroom just gets in the way of whatever they’re doing. And then suddenly they are standing there grabbing their crotch going, “UMMMMM?”

UMMMMM? UMMMMM?! There’s no UMMMMM in biology. It’s called a bodily function. It’s SCIENCE. You go to the bathroom right now, young lady. I am not raising a science-denying Republican.

You’re a Republican who doesn’t deny science? Cool. Come over and teach my kid all you want about supply-side economics as long as she’s on the toilet while you’re doing it.

This wasn’t going to be a post about Marlo’s bathroom habits, but here we are. What can I say? You’re reading a mommyblog. It’s my duty. And I’m not even done yet. Sit back down.

Yesterday she had her normal dose of Miralax with a cup of apple juice and then had an entire chicken breast for lunch. I thought she’d be bursting at that point, but she asked for more juice and something else to eat. As I got up from the table to refill her cup I said, “You are going to be pooping up a storm today, kid.”

She clapped her hands and jumped down from her chair.

“I’m going to be pooping at the sthore today?”





“Not at the store. A storm. STORM.”

“I want to poop at the sthore!”

Of course she does. It doesn’t matter where we are in public, if there is a bathroom on the premises it must be different from any bathroom she’s ever seen. That’s called science.

I’ve been asking her what she wants for her birthday and she keeps answering, “Presthentsth!” without ever getting into specifics. So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to put her in the car on her birthday and say, you know what? We are going to visit 20 different restaurants and stores and you get see the bathroom in each and every one of them. Let’s do this, kid.

It will be better than a fucking pony. Because ponies? They don’t have automatic hand dryers.

  • Michelle

    2013/05/29 at 3:17 pm

    Please, please share with us how you get her to stay in her room until you go in. As a parent of a 3.5 year-old, I need to know…..

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/05/29 at 3:27 pm

    You heard it here: I locked her in. Yep. She was routinely escaping and NOT heading to my room. She was instead heading downstairs to the kitchen. It was dangerous and she had to know that she could not get out.

    Putting on my helmet. Three… two… one…

  • Danielle

    2013/05/29 at 3:29 pm

    Find a restaurant with the fancy Dyson hand dryers, she’ll be entertained for hours.

  • Dede D

    2013/05/29 at 3:34 pm

    Apple juice is constipating, Grape juice on the other hand…works

  • Jen

    2013/05/29 at 3:39 pm

    I’ve done that. And he’s 12 now and doesn’t hate me…that I know of. I’d do it again if I had to, and given that the teen years are right on the heels of surviving ten years of the Terrible Twos, I probably will.

  • chuck

    2013/05/29 at 4:00 pm

    1funny! been there done that

  • Jillian

    2013/05/29 at 4:03 pm

    First thing I did when we moved in to our new house was reverse my daughters door knob, she is 2 1/2! I grew up with the lock on my door reversed and she sure as hell will do the same:)

  • Elizabeth B

    2013/05/29 at 4:10 pm

    That was hilarious! Thank you, I needed a laugh today. And thank Marlo, too. 🙂 I just spent the entire day writing a letter to my 27-year-old daughter, who is unhappy with me (and I’m not too happy with her either). Marlo’s excitement over pooping in public reminded me of when my daughter was three and I was in a store with my mother, buying a car seat for the baby I was about to deliver – I was actually in labor at the store. My daughter got away from us for under a minute, then very happily showed us that she had peed in the toilet, and weren’t we so proud of her?! It was a display toilet. We left quickly.

  • Debbie

    2013/05/29 at 4:13 pm

    My kids had to see, and use, every bathroom in Salt Lake Valley!! Didn’t matter where we were – they had to see the bathroom…………

  • Nisser

    2013/05/29 at 4:13 pm

    That is the best idea. Doing this tomorrow on my 2 year old’s door.

  • rozwas

    2013/05/29 at 4:46 pm

    Marlo is so absolutely joyous. She is always smiling – or at least in the pictures. It must be so difficult to leave her for your trips.

  • kate

    2013/05/29 at 5:58 pm

    I fully 100000000 bazillion percent support the latch on a door. Ferber’s chapter on sleep training/keeping your kiddo in his or her room is so worth the ten minutes it will take you to read. Seriously. My kid was climbing over the baby gate we had set up in his door. The latch was a life saver and we only had to use it for a few nights. After that he knew he had to stay in. Another good route to underscore how important it was for him to stay in his room was to put a digital clock in his room and tell him he was not allowed to come out until SEVEN ZERO ZERO. If he did, we marched him right back to his room.

  • Kristina

    2013/05/29 at 6:27 pm

    Yup, we locked our kids in too. Had management at our apartment complex turn all the knobs around. Now we don’t even need to lock the door, they just sit on their beds shouting “MOOOOOMMMMM! MOOOOOMMMM! Come get us.” Locked doors are the way to go.

  • Brigid

    2013/05/29 at 6:32 pm

    Every time my 3yo passes a porta potty, he has to use it. Has. To. Every. Time.

  • Short and Feisty

    2013/05/29 at 6:48 pm

    “it’s my duty”….was that pun intentional?

    Doodie. Hahah. I’m so juvenile.

  • Lee

    2013/05/29 at 6:54 pm

    Best post in a while! Totally loved it, thanks!

  • Algonesh

    2013/05/29 at 7:03 pm

    House fires????

  • Hanni

    2013/05/29 at 7:30 pm

    I did the locked door thing, too…it worked like a charm! She only tested it twice, and after that never tried again. She’s six and a half now and will still call me into her room after bedtime if she needs something (she will get up to go to the bathroom if she needs to…). The locked door is a great parenting tool.

  • TacomaAnnie

    2013/05/29 at 9:07 pm

    If your three year old was in a crib, as mine were at that age, then you would go and get them out of their crib in case of emergency. Locking a child in his or her room is confining them to a safe space, just like placing a young child in a crib. We didn’t lock the door with our youngest because it was too hard to turn the knobs around on an 85 year old house, but we did use a crib tent (before they were recalled) to keep him confined. He had escaped and wreaked havoc on the house, and one night tried to get out the front door. Fortunately, it was chained at the top, but what if we had forgotten to chain it before we went to bed?

  • mary

    2013/05/29 at 9:25 pm

    I was at a wedding last summer of a very good friend of mine. Her sister was up front being the maid of honor. Right after the pastor said a prayer her 4 year old son walked up and stated “mom, I have to poop”! Such a funny moment! She was thankful that this was a small wedding!

  • Tanna

    2013/05/29 at 11:50 pm

    I used the “let’s see what kind of bathroom this store has” tactic to get my son to want to go to the bathroom when we were training. This is funny!

  • buta86

    2013/05/30 at 12:18 am

    I don’t know if it’s the age or being the youngest in the family, but my youngest daughter ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom whenever we go somewhere. It doesn’t matter if she went two second before we left the house. Somewhere between that pee and the five minutes it takes to get to the pizza place, she suddenly has to pee “WEALLY BAD!” So annoying. I will say that as she gets closer to 5 which will be at the end of June, she seems to be getting better. So there is hope for you in the next year. Of course it could also be because I now tell her that places don’t have bathrooms anymore, so there’s that….

  • jessica

    2013/05/30 at 4:40 am

    Oh this is so true. With my kids all very close in age I swear we have been to every public restroom in the Midwest. Just yesterday my husband said “you know what? I think he just likes going in there for the towel dispenser” about my 3 y/o’s public bathroom addiction.

  • Carly

    2013/05/30 at 7:53 am

    AWESOMESAUCE! For my kids, the nastier the bathroom (such as at our local grocery) the MORE they find cause to use it. Two weeks ago we made THREE, that’s one, two, three trips to the potty during the 90 minutes we spent at the grocery. And my son still peed in his pull-up while we were standing in check-out line. Goooooooooood times.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/05/30 at 11:36 am

    Going to the bathroom gets in the way of what they are doing? That would be both my girls, even though they’re 11 and 6.
    Drives me nutty. Also? They have to go the second I turn on the shower,
    even if I’ve asked them before I get into the bathroom if they need to
    go. (We only have one bathroom.) The best is when they drop a load and I have to amp up my body-wash usage to get rid of the smell. That is, if they didn’t flush the toilet and scald me.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/05/30 at 11:39 am

    I lock my two-year-old in, too. (He’s in a toddler bed, not a crib, so he could get out.) And my girls, who can now read a clock, are not allowed out of bed before 7am. They have been threatened within an inch of their lives if they come out before then.

  • Ellere

    2013/05/30 at 2:53 pm

    Small children don’t escape houses that are on fire, they find somewhere to hide. It’s better if they are hiding in their room so you don’t have to hunt through the entire house.

  • Jillian

    2013/05/30 at 3:57 pm

    The best part is it also stopped us from locking ourselves in our room while we were teenagers!!!

  • Jo

    2013/05/30 at 5:06 pm

    Guess I’m lucky that my kids are terrified of loud hand dryers and automatic flush toilets – they never want to use public bathrooms!

  • Steph G

    2013/05/30 at 6:08 pm

    So Lucky!! My kid HATES public bathrooms with all those loudly flushing AUTOMATIC toilets (so you can’t even run to the safety of the sinks before it flushes) and all those horribly ear piercing hand dryers. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer.

  • Lorrie W

    2013/05/30 at 9:42 pm

    There’s a neat little book called “Toilets of the World” that might be an awesome little present for her. 🙂 It’s actually pretty fascinating!

  • REK981

    2013/05/31 at 9:33 am

    Use some tp or your hand to cover the sensor of the auto flush. Then I have her cover her ears while it flushes. Then I wash my hands and once I am done I hold my hands over her ears while she dries with the stupid loud hand dryers. I also try to keep napkins on me to just make it easier.

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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