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Blowin’ in the Wind

9 Aug

This woman hasn't taken a shit without the help of laxatives in over 20 years.

My car needed servicing the other day; my husband had a class to attend and needed his car.  At first it looked like my four-year-old and I would have to forgo our weekly story time at the library, but then I suggested my husband just drop us off at the library early.  Phoebe and I could enjoy the woods and picnic area on the library’s property and pass the mere thirty-five minutes before the doors opened.

The best thing about our local library is the children’s librarian who genuinely loves kids, which is not the case with all librarians.  Unfortunately, there is one such crotchety blue-haired lady who works the circulation desk.  She rarely speaks except to complain, and when the kiddos pour into the juvenile section on Monday mornings for story time, she can barely contain her fits of eye-rolling and throat clearing. So when my daughter announced at 9:55, in front of the library doors that wouldn’t be opened until 10:00, that she had to poop NOW, I was more than a little disappointed to see Blue Hair at the helm.  She was tidying up the circulation desk when I knocked gingerly on the glass.

“We’re closed until 10:00,” her muffled voice seeped through the glass.

“I know, but she really has to use the restroom.  Could you please let us in?” And then I placed my hands palm to palm in the universal begging posture of ‘pretty please.’

“Sorry.  I can’t hear you.  Come back at ten.” Then Blue Hair disappeared into the back office.

“Mommy.  It’s happening,” my daughter warned.

“Phoebe, is there any way you could hold it for just four minutes?”  I knew the question was pointless.  We’ve all been there.  The shit levee had been breached.  Like she said, it was ‘happening.’

“I think we’re going to have to find a place to hide,” Phoebe announced, matter-of-fact.  This was not her first rodeo.  We have frequented many public parks and playgrounds that lacked facilities and had become experts in hiding behind trees, industrial air-conditioning units, dumpsters, etc.

Thankfully our library grounds are graced with a stand of trees and thick underbrush that would provide adequate cover.  For the poison-ivy-paranoid, there is even a winding path and patches of pine straw that offer just enough space to pop a squat without foliage conducting unwanted reconnaissance where the sun don’t shine.  I only had one tissue in my pocket, thanks to an earlier booger situation, but I was confident that I could use it strategically barring some unforeseen ‘consistency’ issues.  I reviewed what Phoebe had eaten over the past twenty-four hours and breathed easy.  One tissue could do this job.

Phoebe pulled her pants down while I adopted the posture of support which ensures, most of the time, that nothing will soil her clothing or shoes as she marks her territory.  And I noticed something odd; something was missing from this all too familiar scene.  Maybe it was familiarity that had vanquished the emotion that used to accompany these moments.  Mortification.  That was it.  The mortification I used to feel during these episodes was gone.  Sure, I was pissed off at Blue Hair for not letting us in, but even that indignation was leaving me.

People have been relieving themselves in the great outdoors for millennia without remorse.  It’s only our sheer numbers and proximity to one another that causes those pesky inconveniences like plagues and cholera.  But as long as my little one isn’t dropping a deuce in an open city sewer or peeing directly into the town’s water supply, I’m going to tell her to enjoy the breeze on her butt.  And if ol’ Blue Hair ever gets wind of what transpired, well… she can just kiss what was blowing in the wind and lighten up.

To Pee or Not to Pee

22 Apr

It’s a familiar scene in my life as a stay at home mother in South Carolina.  The sun is beaming, the dog is trotting around the fenced-in yard, my gloved hands coax weeds out of the flowerbeds, and my three-year-old strips down to her birthday suit, leans against a maple and pees on the grass.  No one who isn’t related to her can see her in these precious moments, but it still bothers my husband. 

“Phoebe, what are you doing?” my husband roars.

“Mommy doesn’t care.”

“Is this true?” he accuses.

I look up from my weeding, oblivious to the problem.  “I’m sorry, what’s going on?”

“Our daughter is pissing in the grass naked, that’s what’s going on.”  He’s actually turning a shade of red.

“Oh.  She does that all the time when we’re outside.  Well, as long as it’s warm enough, and she only does it in the backyard where no one will see her.” 

I neglect to mention that she also used to do this in the front yard, that she does it in the woods when we’re on a hike, that she does it at playgrounds without facilities, and in the gravel on the side of a highway when the next rest area isn’t for thirty miles.  Like a good and diplomatic wife, I also neglect to remind him that he took no part in potty training and that I was magnanimous enough to conduct the ordeal while he was out of town for two weeks.  He was not subjected to the urine and feces on the bathroom floor, on the carpet, on the driveway, on the kitchen chairs.  Nor was he present for the endless reminders during playtime for our little angel to take a break or for her first adventures in public restrooms.  I exempted him from those trials by fire.  Letting Phoebe pee outside saved me from dragging her inside to the bathroom every single time we were in the middle of finger painting, hose squirting, yard mowing and flower planting. 

Now playing in the theater of my mind: miles of comedic film featuring my sister and I who performed the same outdoor relief sessions as my daughter.  My mother didn’t care if we popped a squat behind a tree, in fact, on our long nature walks she often had to join us.  On car trips fromOhiotoNew YorkandSouth Carolina, it was par for the course for at least one of us to make a deposit in the old chamber pot Mom stowed under the driver’s seat.  I’ll never forget the time my sister sat atop the thing, pushing out turds as we traversed aTennesseehighway riddled with pot-holes, me propping her up so she didn’t topple off and soil the red upholstery of the ’77 Buick Regal.  Regal indeed. When my mother finally pulled over so we could rid the car of the noxious presence, we all had a good laugh that the name of the interchange was “Stinking Creek Road.” 

Relieving ourselves in the Great Outdoors is a family tradition, the source of shared humiliation and hilarious memories.  It is not uncommon at family get-togethers for someone to open up with, “Remember the time Grandma had to take a dump….”  Seriously, this is how we entertain ourselves.  

My husband doesn’t have these stories. His family is not reserved by any stretch of the imagination, but they don’t sit around exchanging shit stories like my family.  As I calmly explain how I let Phoebe strip down to avoid soiling her clothes while she pees on our lawn, he still looks at me like I’m a little off. So I come out with “What’s the big deal?  She’s a little kid. Besides, the dog does it all the time.”

Wow, did I just compare our kid to the dog?  Yes, but I’m drowning.  I’m being called out and I need concrete rationalization and the first thing I see is the dog lifting his leg on the same tree our daughter peed near just moments ago.  Perhaps Phoebe and the dog are engaged in a territory battle, who knows.  My husband’s disapproving face makes me feel like I need a follow up retort.

“Hey,” I mustered, “it’s not like I let her take a dump in the yard.  That’s only in absolute emergency situations.”

My husband’s reply is to march back into the house sighing audibly.

It is at this point that I seriously consider the question of when I will have to not only discourage my daughter from peeing in the yard, but cut her off altogether.  I even poll my friends for input on the decision.  The consensus is age 4.  Phoebe has just two months of pissing freedom left.  I will explain to her with love and compassion that she may no longer “water the grass.”  Except in emergency situations.  You always have to leave that contingency plan in place.  Just ask anyone in my family. 

My father, especially, commiserates with the emergency situation, although his emergencies are almost always of the “No. 2” variety.  We recount fondly, and with uproarious laughter, the time when my dad had to pull over in an elementary school parking lot and quietly shit behind a dumpster while beseeching his daughters in stage whispers to check the glove compartment for leftover Burger King napkins.  Thankfully, there were several.

In related news, a postal worker was arrested the other day for defecating behind some trash bins; a local resident actually captured the incident on video and the late night hosts have taken a few comedic jabs at the situation.  I would like to come to the defense of this postman, my daughter, my father and anyone who has ever had nature call when facilities were simply not an option.  Sometimes you just have to go.  And while my daughter enjoys full reign of the backyard for the time being, I will instruct in the nuances of discretion.  If you can make it to the toilet, fine.  If you can’t, then you just can’t and you shouldn’t be chastised, judged or arrested.  Because, let’s face it, sometimes pee, and shit, just happen.

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