Parenthood and poop…

A couple of weekends ago, while sitting at the Urgent Care waiting for J to have an X-ray, Dada and I were pondering the role that poop has played in our lives since our respective parenting roles began.  I, of course, am a long-time poop veteran and connoisseur, but Dada comes in a close second in expertise.  If you have not gleaned from this that poop was the reason for our trip to Urgent Care, then you might not be a parent…yet.

Yes, yes…we went to the Urgent Care on a lovely Saturday evening because of poop.  Or, rather, we went because of a lack of poop.  That we ended up there shouldn’t be a surprise.  When your child has issues with communication, you tend to err on the side of caution when you can’t quite figure out what is bothering him.

I feel compelled to insert here a little anecdote about my father.  As the youngest of four children by seven years, my interactions with my parents usually took place in a sibling-less environment.  I visited them on weekends (not EVERY weekend, but here and there) and my brothers and sister were older and not always at home.  Being #4 out of four meant that a lot of what was done with me was done on “auto-pilot.”  Surely, my mother thought, I had the same blood type as my siblings.  I don’t.  I’m the ONE kid who isn’t O negative in the whole bunch.  We all had brown hair, brown eyes, were right-handed (or right-hand trained) and so on and so forth.  One day, at around the age of nine, I asked my dad if he knew what color my eyes were; he was reading the newspaper and I was 100% sure he wasn’t paying any attention to my presence.  He replied that my eyes were brown, and when I asked how he knew he replied that I’d always had constipation problems.  It seems that early on in life I developed a reputation for “stinginess” (my mother had studied Freud and these two characteristics, so I’ve been told, are related,) and the height of my parents’ concern for me was entirely related to constipation.  If I was in a bad mood, a can of prunes was promptly handed to me; if I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner a little too much, I was automatically told I would be constipated.  Until I had babies and I experienced the correlation between what goes in and what comes out, I had thought that my parents’ obsession with my bowel movements was completely absurd.

In a nutshell, J made twenty trips to the bathroom on that particular Saturday, and the look on his face indicated that he was not happy about them.  Since the trips were short and frequent, and we had ruled out the opposite of non-production, we figured something else was afoot.  Out came the iPad with the Proloquo2Go, and we tried everything we could think of to get him to explain how he felt.

J described that he was happy, and worried.  He indicated he had to go to the bathroom.  He also indicated he had pain.  He drank so much water that we figured he’d start sloshing on the inside as he walked.  After we suggested the doctor and the reaction was positive, we got packed up and drove off to the Urgent Care.  I packed a bag as if we might get sent to the hospital because, d-uh, if you’re packed and ready it doesn’t happen.

“Constipation.”  The doctor was blunt.  We sort of expected it and were profoundly happy that it wasn’t “appendicitis” he was being blunt about, and when he suggested a quick X-ray to check the extent of the issue J, with minimal hemming and hawing, agreed.  TGG escorted him, and Dada and I waited.

Dada started musing about how immune one becomes to poop as a parent.  I have to agree.  Parents react to poop in an entirely different way than other adults who haven’t dealt with children.  As I go to check the mail, I can see people walking their dogs, and I can identify the childless ones almost immediately.  The same women who baby-talk to their dogs yet pick up their poop as if they’d just stumbled onto a broken plutonium container are very likely childless.  There are qualms that are definitely obliterated when one has a child at home.

Long story short: an alteration in J’s diet because of a school field trip had caused a digestive issue, and poor J was experiencing discomfort and this eventually passed.  No pun intended, but it’s rather inevitable, isn’t it?  He was soon right as rain without incident and without intervention.  Lesson learned?  J’s tolerance for cheese and junk food is rather low these days…

Over the years we’ve had our share of poop issues that, quite honestly, we don’t want to revisit.  Whatever intimacy exists in a family has an inevitable relationship to what happens in the bathroom.  At one point or another everyone is seen naked; at one point or another you have to tell the kids it’s not cool to sit in front of the bathroom door while you’re on the toilet; at one point or another you will have to ask someone if they’ve gone to the bathroom, have to go to the bathroom, are done in the bathroom, and so on and so forth.  Toilet paper will be requested because someone forgot to check if there was any before they went into the bathroom.  Plungers will be needed.  Remedies for poop issues will be asked for, and provided.

We apologized to the doctor for our exaggerated concern for J’s pooplessness, and he shrugged and said “all extremes are bad…at least you know it’s got to come out at one point or another.  And you have a sense of humor about it…people sometimes forget that parenting and poop go hand in hand.  Poop is universal.  If we’re lucky, our kids will be willing to deal with ours when we’re too old to take care of ourselves.”

On the way home, TGG said “so we ran to the Urgent Care for poop?”  Dada and I nodded.  “Usually it’s for too much poop, right?”  We nodded again.  “Remember when J learned to use the toilet?”  We nodded.  “That was a very happy day for me!”  We nodded again.  “I remember you guys dancing around and clapping when J refused to wear his Pull-Ups and was dry all night.”  We nodded again.  “Is that when he started insisting on sleeping naked?”  We nodded once more.  “Wow!”  J laughed.

Dada, TGG and I exchanged looks in the rearview mirror.  We’ve all had to deal with caring for someone who couldn’t take care of this particular issue on their own; some of us for work, and some of us with a loved one.  TGG sighed and said “I had never thought of how much poop you guys have dealt with over the years.  I’m not ready to be a parent.  I can only deal with professional interactions with poop.  As long as it’s work-related I’m fine, but try to stay sharp and able for a while, will you?”

Dada and I looked at each other.  Sure, we said, we will…we want to, believe us.  We can’t promise, but it’s something we really, really want to do.  But it’s “circle of life,” and all that good stuff, you know…  “Yeah,’ TGG said, ‘I know.  Makes you wonder about indoor plumbing, the invention of toilet paper, nutrition and all that stuff, huh?”  We nodded again.  “It’s like a computer,’ said Dada, ‘your brother has an issue of GIGO.”  TGG nodded.  “OR,’ he said after a moment, ‘more like GIGNO.”

True…all too true.

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