A few weeks ago, I got a mid-week virus. My symptoms were mainly extreme fatigue, a headache, and a low-grade fever. I did a few things that I never do. First, I left work early, went home, and slept for three hours. Then, when I realized how late it was and I needed to rush to get my daughter from camp, I called and ordered takeout from our favorite Thai place.
As I ventured to pick my daughter Violet up from camp, I mused at how lucky I am. I have been blessed with a daughter who is a seriously adventurous eater. Don’t get me wrong, she loves French fries, grilled cheese and pizza as much as the next girl. But she also loves tofu, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, and pretty much any other fun ethnic cuisine that I throw at her. It makes my life easier. Especially on days like the evening in question, when I didn’t have the energy to cook or to find a restaurant with a kids’ menu.
When I picked her up, my daughter got pretty excited about the prospect of mid-week takeout. It was beautiful outside. She suggested that we eat our Thai food in the park. We are very fortunate to live near a park with great wooded hiking trails and access to the Connecticut River. I enthusiastically said yes. Then we could simply toss our to go containers in the trash bin at the park and I would have no cleanup, right?
We got to the park and enjoyed our Thai food. Then Violet asked if we could walk a bit. I was feeling reinforced by my panang curry and agreed. We proceeded to take the twenty minute hike to the Connecticut River. We saw butterflies, frogs, and a multitude of mosquitoes. It was great, all things considered. Magical, even. The weather was cooling off. The butterflies literally danced on the air. And Violet danced with them. Basically the perfect end to a rough sick day.
Then my daughter said the worst thing possible when you are in the woods fifteen minutes from the car.
“Mama, I need to go potty”
“Ok, let’s find a big tree off the trail so you can go.”
“What’s wrong baby?”
“Mama, I need to poop.”
My first thought was literally, “Oh crap.”
My daughter is a big five-year-old. In my sick-state, there was no way I could pick her up and run or even walk to the car. There were wipes in the car. Tissues. Paper towels. A water bottle. What did I have with us on the trail? Bupkus. None of these glorious things. It was supposed to be a short walk. I was unprepared. A total mom fail.
At first Violet said, “Don’t worry Mama, I can hold it for seventy years.” Just a little dramatic, this one. We walked a little faster than normal. But all was well.
Precisely five minutes down the trail, she noted that she didn’t think she could hold it. I picked up her hand and we ran. We ran like the wind. We ran like it was an emergency. It was an emergency. A potty emergency. The worst kind.
We finally got to the base of the trail about 100 feet from the car. I told my daughter to sit on a park bench while I sprinted to the car and grabbed wipes and the plastic bag from our Thai food. I ran back. When I got to my daughter, she was cheerfully singing to herself and pumping her legs on the bench like it was a swing.
I said, “Okay baby, let’s go poop in the woods.”
She said, “I already pooped.”
I sighed. Audibly. Really, really loudly. I looked down at the ground. Right beside the park bench was the biggest piece of poop that I have ever seen, outside of that from a horse or an elephant. Surely this didn’t come from my five-year old? I did consider that this was not the absolutely worst outcome. She had managed to pull her pants and underwear down first. At least I didn’t lose an outfit out of the deal.
I calmly explained to Violet that, next time, she needed to try not to poop out in the open on the trail (I’m praying so hard that there isn’t a next time. So. Hard.). I explained that, when we go potty in the woods, we need to find a tree off the trail to go behind. She then reminded me that I had told her to stay on the bench.
“I did baby, I did. You did okay. It was an accident and accidents happen. It’s alright.”
Now, I needed to take care of the poop. I tried to put the plastic bag from my Thai food on my hand so that I could grab the poop. The flimsy bag split.
In my half-fevered stupor, I just didn’t know what to do. It was getting later and I needed to get Violet home. So I did what any parent would do: I put the plastic over my shoe and kicked the poop off the trail the best that I could.
My daughter asked the logical question, “What will someone say if they see it?”
I answered, “They’ll say that must have been a huge dog.”
Violet replied, “Maybe a dinosaur.”