Tonight, after I tucked my daughter in, I asked her the same thing I ask her every night: “Ali, what makes you happy?” Usually we list things: blueberries, her friend Aria, playing with play doh. Jordan started this ritual when she was going through a phase of not wanting us to leave her room at night. “Just think of happy things,” he told her, and then we helped her fill her image bank.
“Do blueberries make you happy?,” I asked.
To which she replied, simply: “Don’t talk, mommy. I sleep now.”
Well! Ok then. (I can’t blame her – I feel the same way when I get in my bed: Less talk, more sleeping!)
Then, just as I reached the door — “Goodnight, Mommy Hirsch!”
Cut to 30 minutes earlier. Just after I’ve gotten her into the bath, she begins yelping: “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” She leaps up. “Poo poo!” Oh god. With ninja reflexes I grab the bucket we usually fill with water to rinse her hair after we shampoo it: in goes the poop. “Look, Ali, it’s like a little potty!” I say, merrily, as I dump it into the toilet.
Now she’s climbing out of the tub. “More, mommy!” Ok, let’s get on the toilet… Nope, not yet: Now she’s running madly down the hall to her room, where she grabs the little toilet seat cover from the toddler-sized potty. I catch up with her in the hallway as she’s running back. Uh-oh — she’s squatting. Reflexively, I stick out my hand… and, look what I caught.
Back in the bathroom, I hurl it in the toilet and wash my hands in scalding hot water, turning my head so she doesn’t see what mommy’s face looks like when mommy touches poo poo.
On the plus side, now I can cross “catching a toddler’s poop in my hand” off the ol’ bucket list.
Now we’re putting the little potty seat on the toilet. I hoist her up, and… we did it! Poop #3 happened exactly where it should. Mission success. Phew.
But wait! No time to celebrate our achievements. Now she’s running down the hall again, back to her room. She’s about to dive onto the big, WHITE glider in the corner when she stops; she strains. “Mommy, mommy!”
“Do you have to go again?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, and I can tell she’s sad.
“It’s okay, baby. Let’s sit on our potty.” She sits on the little potty.
“Here –” I hand her her little pumpkin, the one she picked out at the pumpkin patch over the weekend. “Hold pumpy.” (That’s his name.)
“Do you want me to read you a book?”
So we read books, and I rub her back, and tell her it’s ok, and she poops again, and we dump it in the toilet, again, and then we proceed with our nighttime rituals, until the pooping is but a faint memory (and aroma).
And then, when I ask her, “Ali, what made you happy today?”, she says, “Don’t talk, mommy. I sleep now.”
And I understand. It’s tiring, this business of being two years old.
“Goodnight, Mommy Hirsch!” she calls out, as I reach the door.
“Goodnight, Ali Hirsch,” I say, and I take the bath bucket and the pieces of the little potty downstairs, where I incinerate them.