Poop Dreams (And Nightmares)

I have a reputation in this household for always being right. Not in a "because I said so" way; no, it's more that I either know what I'm talking about or guess accurately most of the time. This reputation was shot all to hell (at least in my own mind) when we went shopping on Saturday, and The Beaner had to poop.

We're in the process of toilet training (something I haven't talked much about here, because I consider it to be a mostly private experience for The Beaner), so when I saw him get into pooping position in Jo-Ann Fabrics, I said, "do you need to poop? Do you want to find a toilet?" He answered in the affirmative to both questions, so I scooped him up and asked the fabric cutter where the bathroom was. Thus began the start of my series of wrong turns.

Well, actually, let me back up a bit. The first wrong turn had to do with the strategy of parking over near the Costco and walking to the rest of the box stores we needed to visit in the giant strip mall on Route 38. (It drives me nuts that you have to DRIVE from one store to another in a box store complex. It's enough to make me pine for old-school indoor shopping malls.) Al suggested that we bring the stroller to help us carry packages, but after ramming it into every display in the sporting goods store, I took it back to the car. I then walked back to the sporting goods store, and we continued on to Jo-Ann Fabrics.

OK, so here I am in the Women's room at Jo-Ann Fabrics (hey, at least they had a bathroom!), holding a toddler who's doing his best to hold in as much poop as he can while I put down a seat cover and figure out how to balance him over the gap in the seat. (WHY is there a gap in the seat, anyway? Can anyone tell me why commercial toilet seats are split in the middle?) I finally get him to put a leg on each side, but I can't scootch him back very far because his legs don't go that wide... and besides, I'm now contradicting his nanny, who tells him to keep his legs together while on the toilet so she can avoid being sprayed accidentally.

Meanwhile, Al has dashed back to the car to get diapers, because we didn't bring any with us when we left the car. Whose stupid idea was it to park the car and walk, anyway?

So I'm holding The Beaner up on the toilet and checking to see if he's done when I notice the water turning yellow. I immediately try to scootch him back a bit farther on the seat, but as I mentioned, there's only so far he can go with that gap in the middle. I look down, and sure enough, there's a puddle growing in his pants. While still holding onto him, I wedge my cell phone between my scarf and my ear as best I can, dial Al, and shout, "BRING PANTS!"

I manage to get The Beaner wiped and off the toilet, and I remove his shoes and pants and set them aside on the floor. It's then that I realize I'm in the Women's room, and Al is not a woman. I shout, "honey, are you out there???" He replies that he is, so I leave The Beaner standing, pantsless, in the middle of the bathroom while I take the diaper bag handoff from Al.

I seem to have taken over the whole bathroom, what with the pants and the shoes in one stall, the changing table in another, and The Beaner walking around half-naked. I get only halfway through undoing the strap on the changing table before deciding that The Beaner's probably over the weight limit for the thing and instead just change him standing up. As soon as I get the backup pants (thank GOD Al brought the whole diaper bag, and not just a diaper) on him and his shoes back on, I send him out to his dad and then start picking up all the detritus. Needless to say, my last stop was at the sink to wash my hands and to try to blot the pee stain on the inside of my right knee.

When I finally emerged from the bathroom, I was all, "WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING, ASKING IF HE WANTED TO USE THE TOILET???" How do you carry on toilet training and still run errands? Does anyone have any strategies for balancing toddlers on public toilets? (I finally ended up turning him sideways, but then I got all eeky because his bare legs were touching the toilet—the turn fouled up the seat cover.) To my knowledge, only Babies 'R Us has a stall just for kids; I thought it was cute when I saw it, but now I'm wondering why every store doesn't have one.

Al said the adventure reminded him of the very first time we had to change a poopy diaper in public (that link goes to a post that was intended to be a parody of Martha Stewart's holiday letter from prison, but since the link to her "marthatalks" site seems to be dead now, it might not be obvious). He's totally right, of course. The only difference that time is that he came into the Women's room with me, other patrons be damned.

On a related note, I've been having a ridiculous number of poop-related dreams lately. Actually, I don't think I've ever had a dream about poop—that I can recall, anyway—until last week. I think it was before the Jo-Ann Fabrics Incident that I had a dream, just before waking, that was like the trifecta of poop. I dreamed I was on the toilet in the living room of a rented condo, chatting with someone (my sister?) while I pooped. Just then a work colleague walked in, and I was mortified. I'M POOPING, for god's sake! The horror didn't end there; it was like a messy diaper that requires 28 wipes to clean up. The poop was just everywhere, and no matter how determinedly I tried to wipe it away once and for all, I couldn't seem to do it.

There was a quick scene change at that point; I was off the toilet, and my work colleague and my sister had gone, but I was still in the living room of the condo. I looked around on the floor, and there were clumps of manure all over the Berber carpet. I yelled to Al, "good god, this is a rented condo! We've got to get all this shit cleaned up! OH MY GOD! There's manure EVERYWHERE!"

At this point I thought I woke up to Al telling me I had to get out of bed because The Beaner had a leaky diaper, and the poop had shot up into his hair. He needed help cleaning it up. It turns out that this was part of the dream, too; when I actually woke up, I was alone, and Al and The Beaner were still downstairs playing.

I see now as I transcribe this poop trifecta dream that it was as much about *cleaning up* the poop as the poop itself, which is interesting because I had two more poop dreams last night, one of which was also about getting stuck with the cleanup. In the first dream Al and I were trying to figure out how to manuever The Beaner on the toilet in either the Men's or the Women's room without any help from the other parent when I discovered that there was also a Family restroom. "GRAB IT!" said Al, and I did. Miracle of miracles, it was open.

In the other, which I had shortly before waking this morning, a cat who reminded me of Annie got away from me and pooped partly on the hardwood, partly on the rug before I could let her outside to do her business. Of course, I had to clean it up... and man, that was the biggest pile of cat poop I'd ever seen.

I'm wondering if these dreams are really about poop, or if they're more a message to clean the crap out of my life or something like that. They could also just be a message to clean the damn house, period...

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 10:44 AM on December 19, 2006


Our cat has been pooping outside the box since shortly after his surgery. We've tried everything. Cleaning up cat poop is just part of our lives now. Luckily he has remarkable consistent poop standards. He poops in the same place every time and it's always nice and firm so it easy to pick up.

Poor fellow would mortified to know his pooping habits were being discussed on the Internet.

Posted by: Stephen Simon at December 20, 2006 1:15 PM

I tend to have pooping in public dreams when I'm feeling too vulnerable/exposed about something.

Posted by: byjane at December 21, 2006 3:30 PM

Lori asks: "WHY is there a gap in the seat, anyway? Can anyone tell me why commercial toilet seats are split in the middle?

The Google replies with:

  • A funnyish non-answer ("it's cheaper") from The Morning News: http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/the_nonexpert/take_your_seat_please.php
  • All kinds of info from the BBC's h2g2: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A10726526
  • An authoritative answer from The Toilet Museum's FAQ: http://www.toiletmuseum.com/faq.html

    “The open front toilet seats afford the users more sanitary conditions and a greater sense of comfort than their residential closed-front cousins. The reason that the open front toilet seats are so widely used in the U.S. is due to section 409.2.2 of the Uniform Plumbing Code. The Uniform Plumbing Code is written and maintained by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.”

    And Section 409.2.2 (Item 144) says: "All water closet seats, except those within dwelling units, shall be of the open front type." which appears to be a real section from an actual document posted online at the IAMPO's web site (just in case you don't believe excerpts from a web site called "The Toilet Museum").

And now you know. :)

All hail The Google!

Posted by: Eric [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2006 7:55 PM

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