little girl smiling

We’ve been potty training our youngest for over a year now. Let’s just let that marinate. I’ve cleaned piss-soaked and crap-caked clothes in three sizes. We were optimistic in 2T, resilient in 3T, and now we’re just desperate in 4T.

Both my kiddos have sensory processing issues, yet they manifest in very different ways. My oldest, B, is hypersensitive. As an infant, she’d scream for a new diaper the moment she peed. Consequently—and believe me, this is one of the only perks of her SPD—she completed the potty-training process in a week. A single #2 in her pants sent her running to the bathroom with each subsequent bowel movement. We tossed the soiled panties in the trash and celebrated our victory.

My youngest, E, on the other hand, is hyposensitive. The sounds, smells, and textures that distress my oldest don’t phase my youngest at all. She’s basically fearless (or oblivious, take your pick).

In some ways, having a hyposensitive child is a blessing. Each morning the daycare owner watches E sprint to her classroom: “There goes the happiest kid in the building,” he says as she whirls by, a blur of curly blonde hair and giggles.

She really is a happy kid. Shit don’t bother. Literally. She could sit in diarrhea for hours with a huge smile on her face until someone notices the smell.

After a year of potty training, E can pee on command (most of the time), but she prefers to do her brown business outside the bathroom, regardless if she’s in a diaper, a pull-up or underwear. When the daycare requested she ditch pull-ups for underwear, we entered the shit-hits-the-floor phase of potty-training.

Now, anyone who has cared for a newborn knows the blowout phase: Those moments when the diaper, despite the promises made in glossy ads or perky commercials, fails to contain the full force of your baby’s bowel movement. The first time you find shit halfway up your infant’s back, you probably wondered how something so small and otherwise perfect could produce so much excrement. You wondered how you’re supposed to remove the onesie without befouling your baby’s hair. You may have even panicked a moment or two, but once you mastered the art of blow-out management, you likely enjoyed a year or so of actual turds in diapers once your child began solids. With any luck, you teach your toddler to put those turds in the toilet and, for the most part, poop never hits your floor.

I have not been so lucky.

Removing poop from underwear is an entirely different process from changing a diaper. I hope, dear reader, you won’t add this to your list of unpleasant parental experiences. If you’re lucky enough to know the poop is there, you may be able to channel your inner bomb expert and shimmy down your kid’s undies without dropping the turd on the floor. Of course, that’s assuming your toddler doesn’t do a little wiggle right at the end and fling it onto your foot or the wall or an unsuspecting sibling in the area. If you happen to have a cold or otherwise fail to notice the heaping pile in your kid’s drawers, you get to do the honors of flinging shit onto your foot or the wall or an unsuspecting offspring in the area.

Once you’ve removed poop from the places where poop should not be, you can sometimes salvage the underwear with a good soak and a massive amount of stain remover. Sometimes, you just have to “Let it go” and buy your Elsa panties in bulk.

We have tried a plethora for rewards to encourage E to do her business in the bathroom, including candy, toys, and trips to the Disney Store. I’m about to offer a week at the Magic Kingdom for a life where everyone poops in the toilet.

A few months ago, the daycare moved E’s class to the potty-trained room. She must go two weeks without an accident to join them. Instead of mourning the loss of her friends from the toilet seat—as we all hoped—she just made new friends with the incoming toddler class and continued crapping her pants. Now she’s the BIG kid in the room, and I fear I may send her to college in Depends.

“Go bottomless,” the pediatrician recommend. “Sometimes the feel of a pull-up or even underwear reminds them too much of a diaper.”

Ok, I buy that. Then I started to imagine the practical implications of this method. Perhaps I can run her to the bathroom after the first turd hits the floor, but that means an actual human turd is going to hit the floor. Poop has plopped on my bathroom tile more times than I can count, but this would mean opening the whole house to excrement.

To make matters worse, my OCD manifests in germaphobia, specifically in touching things that could make me vomit. You know, like door handles, raw chicken, or a big pile of E.coli-rich human feces. After months of cleaning poop from places where poop does not belong, I’m starting to consider the possibility that the good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, wants to help me over my phobia. He has sent feces into my life in unexpected places, delivered by one of the most precious people on Earth (to me at least).

Unless someone out there has better advice, a weekend very soon, I will put my daughter in her favorite dress and nothing else. I’m banking on the fact that even the most dedicated pants crapper has limits when it comes to Princess Sophia costumes. If not, I will wait with Lysol and Purell for a turd to fall. I’m all ears.



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Kathryn Hively

I started Just BE Parenting as a way to cope with the anxiety of balancing work, motherhood, and the impulse to write. That’s right, I’m not a parenting expert. I, my kids, and my family are perfectly flawed in MANY ways. As a parent, I’m trying to let go of perfection and just BE the best mother I can for my kids. The ‘B’ and ‘E’ in Just BE Parenting also represents the first letters of my children’s names. What works for me and my family may not work for you and yours. That’s ok! Even if we’re not the same, I hope you’ll find something relatable here.


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