Oh yes parents, poop happens. In the tub. And what should you do when your kid poops in the tub? Not this. Consider the story below (written from when the girls were very small) a cautionary tale from the days of my parenting youth
(Names have been changed to protect the teenagers who have a social (media) life.)
With small children in the house, I look forward to certain daily events. Bath time is near the top of my list (only slightly down from naptime). I love the bubbles, the adorable bubble beards and hair, and the sweet smelling children. All that, and the fact that they are contained in one place for a bit make for a happy mommy moment.
One evening as the children were making bubble soup, my eldest suddenly yells, “Mom! Pixie pooped in the tub! There’s poop! She pooped! Eeeww!” I turned from getting clean towels and saw my oldest daugher, age 5, scrambling out of the tub and the E. coli infected water. Pixie, age 2, sat in the tub looking a little stunned.
I had absolutely no idea how to proceed from here. What are you supposed to do about poop in the tub?
At this stage of parenting, you’d think that I would be well-prepared for most poop-related events. However, no one had ever told me about poop in the tub, and I had blissfully managed to avoid the experience with my older child. I stood frozen for a moment while my brain slowly processed this new experience. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I had a choice–I could react in a firm, but playful manner, discussing the importance of not pooping in the tub and calmly disinfect everyone and the 3000 toys that had found their way into the contaminated water. Or, I could shriek like a maniac who’d never seen poop before, pull the children to safety and proclaim loudly and frequently that we DO NOT poop in the tub.
I went with my gut.
Shrieking, I grabbed the children, wrapping them in the clean towels (that would now have to be disinfected) and carried them to my non-poopy shower. My 5 year-old dramatically re-told the event the whole shower and Pixie still looked a little shell-shocked (perhaps due to my continual mantra that we DO NOT poop in the tub). After disinfecting the children, I drained the poopy tub and thoroughly washed my hands afterwards with a hospital-style scrub. I barred the door until the area was no longer a biohazard.
How does one get poop out of the tub without actually touching it?
I had no idea. After multiple discarded plans (one of which was to wait until my husband came home to deal with the toxic waste situation–cowardly, I know) I decided that it was best to use a plentiful supply of toilet paper and just grab the (former) floaties. So I did, and went through a gag routine worthy of an Oscar (I wonder where the 5 year-old gets her dramatic side from?). I have daily dealings with poop, but poop out of the diaper was a whole ‘nother country. After the de-contamination process was complete (on both children, the tub, and the toys in the tub–which I washed with bleach in the washing machine–can you do that?), I wondered if I had handled the situation well.
As a parent in the trenches, there is not a lot of time for deep introspection, and this situation did not call for a complex moral lesson. But I wonder if I missed an opportunity to see the poop in the tub as a chance to laugh with my children. I now have a 2 year-old who wears a swim diaper in the tub and states emphatically, “No, no poop in tub” every time she comes near the site of the disaster. Luckily, parenting provides constant opportunities for growth and improvement.
I will think back to this adventure with the next unexpected event: like the one that happened today at naptime–can you say poop finger-painting?