Congratulations, your toddler can walk.
*First published by Scribe: A Medium Publication.
I have only pulled my pants up without wiping once in my life.
It was because I felt the big one coming. And I don’t mean the big one as in, “oooff, that baba ganoush did not agree with me. So I must stop everything I’m doing in public and go home because here comes the big one.”
No, not that big one.
I’m talking about “The Big One”!!! The looming threat of the earthquake Californians expect will happen any minute now. The earthquake that will finally split us from the union geographically to match our cultural divide. The one that will turn the state into the most progressive tech-enabled nation in the world with the highest per capita of black-Patagonia-vests-per-citizen and the highest concentration of douchey tech bros.
That’s, of course, if we don’t sink to the bottom of the ocean à la Atlantis.
I lived in San Diego in 2010 when I felt the house start to shake. Afraid of “The Big One,” I ran for my life. I should say I got up from the toilet, interrupted what I was doing, and ran for my life.
As I write this, I realize I might not be thinking right about this episode because I remember spending a lot of time deliberating whether to stand up and run without wiping or to remain impassive in the face of life-threatening danger and wiping my ass before running for my life.
I opted for the latter, thinking that if this were, in fact, “The Big One,” they would find me dead next to the toilet bowl containing my big one with a pristine crack. Luckily, I had enough time to wipe and run for safety.
There were other spillover effects associated with my delayed gratification strategies. As I was exiting my parents’ house, my five-year-old brother was at the top of the stairs screaming and crying. My mom and stepdad, in an effort to save themselves, ran outside to safety and forgot they had put my brother in his room for a time-out.
I can only thank divine providence for the inspiration to wipe. I had a chance to save my brother, and I didn’t have a muddy crack when running up the stairs two steps at a time to save him.
The earthquake was so strong that it knocked one unsuspecting frame out of alignment, and that was it. But we survived, and we had the will to rebuild stronger, which in this case started (and ended) by straightening this frame, even if we couldn’t ultimately confirm whether or not it was crooked before the earthquake.
I stood proud; I had survived yet another earthquake (not the big one, but still), and I lived another day with my crack clean.
But that was then, when I didn’t have kids. Since I had kids and my kids have been able to walk or talk, I have never been able to poop in peace again. Sometimes even wiping comes second to other more critical parenting tasks.
Like when my oldest daughter was shouting and screaming for me to come into her room while her sister — who had been struggling with sleep because of teething — was sleeping.
So, I stopped what I was doing (which, in this case, was pooping), and I waddled like a degenerate penguin with my pants wrapped around my ankles and pleaded, “please, honey, let me finish pooping in peace, and, I promise you, I’ll come back to wish you a good night for the 27th time.”
Then I shuffled back to the toilet, the same man but with a little less dignity and self-respect.
I remember a time in my life when having my pants around my ankles meant I was having fun and not that I was dealing with an eminent debacle at home.
These experiences helped me formulate the Murphy Laws’ corollary for parental bowel movement: “if something can go wrong while you are going number two, it will go wrong.”
Another corollary to go along with it, “if your wife is out with the kids and nature calls, the moment your cheeks touch the cold toilet seat, your wife will arrive and start texting you that she needs your help because the kids are both screaming, your chihuahua is having yet another panic attack and the cute drink she bought for your daughter at Starbucks, that beautiful pink mango dragonfruit refresher is now drying on the car’s upholstery; freeze-dried dragonfruit pieces and all.”
No one tells you that once you have kids, you also give up your ability to complete minor hygiene tasks; such is the parent’s life. Just like life, this stage is fleeting, and there will be a day when you will get the house all to yourself, and you will wish there was someone around to interrupt your BMs so you wouldn’t feel so lonely.
Don’t despair! At that moment in life, your body can help with that since you won’t be able to go without the aid of Metamucil or Miralax, that’s if you’re lucky. If you are not lucky, then you are in luck because now colostomy bags come with designs.
That’s right; now you are old — you are an empty nester that traded a stubborn kid for a stubborn GI system. Don’t worry; unlike parenting, there is medicine for that. I didn’t know that when I had kids, but now I do, and I can start working on accepting that when “The Big One” comes around, it will find me with a questionable crack already.