Samuel J. Tanner 4 minute read

Oh no, Mommy

"Oh no, Mommy!"

Samson's voice distracted me. I was playing Madden '19. I had an hour between my classes at Penn State Altoona and an improv show. This was much needed mindless time. It was 3rd and 8. I called a deep crossing route.

"Oh no, Mommy!"

Katie was sitting next to me on the couch. She was painting her toenails. This was a brief moment of calm for her as well. Solomon and Samson were being Solomon and Samson. Loud. Raucous. Unruly. I was trying to tune them out. Self-care.

"Oh no, Mommy!"

I looked over to Samson. He was standing near the ottomon in our living room. Samson recently started preschool. He's so close to being potty trained, but he's not there yet. Samson was wearing big boy undies to practice being, well, a big boy.

I realized that Samson was calling out because, in fact, he was peeing. On the ottomon.

"Go to the bathroom, " Katie called out. She had nail polish in her hands.

"Oh no, Mommy!" Samson continued.

"Samson, go to the potty! Quick."

Samson's face was heavy with concern.

"Quick, Samson!" Katie called out.

Samson started to waddle towards the bathroom. He got there, but it was too late. Samson had done what he needed to do. In his undies. On the ottomon. On the carpet. His business was finished.

Katie was finally able to set her nail polish down. She cleaned Samson up. I put the controller down. I cleaned the living room up.

Samson's so close to being done with diapers. We're almost finished with nearly five years of human waste. But does it ever really end?

I came home from teaching the other day. Katie greeted me.

"I flushed the toilet three times," she said. "But it's not working."

"What happened?" I asked with surprise. This was a strange greeting, to be sure.

"Solomon pooped."

Sure enough, Solomon had pooped. There was an enormous amount of human waste in the toilet. This bit of feces was as big as Solomon, and it was positioned in such a way that it couldn't escape the bowl.

"That came from Solomon?" I asked with exasparation.

Katie shrugged. "I can't believe it either."

Eventually, we had to make use of the plunger. It was, in a word, unpleasant.

The last five years have been wonderful. I love my sons. These last five years have also been, well, shitty. My advisor during grad school, upon learning that Solomon was born, gave me some advice.

"Your life is about to become shit," he told me with a big smile, "Literally."

I laughed. Little did I know that his advice would prove accurate. Prophetic, even.

Parents and adults get used to human waste, I guess. It doesn't phase me anymore.

I was teaching the other day. My pre-service elementary teachers were reading books to preschool children. This was good practice for them. They were refining their literacy pedagogy. Preschool children were gathered at tables. Things were going swimmingly when I noticed that a puddle had formed under the chair of one of the children. I alerted the preschool teacher. She shrugged, went over to the child, and cleaned up the mess.

Later, I was debriefing with my college students.

"I felt so bad when I realized she peed," the girl who had been reading to the urinating child told us.

I laughed. "It's pretty remarkable that you have the ability to make children urinate when you read."

"Trigger warning," another student said with laughter.

I suppose that part of being an adult is coping with the very real possibility that children will make waste in your space. One of my favorite teaching stories is about this. I had a student in 11th grade English named Wendy. She was a fierce personality. Wendy didn't like listening to adults and wasn't shy about her defiance. I learned more about Wendy later in the semester. Apparently, her 8th grade English teacher hadn't allowed Wendy to leave to use the bathroom. Wendy simply walked over to the corner of the classroom and did what Samson did to my ottomon. Can you imagine?

Be careful out there, adults. Children can disrupt your space at any moment. With waste.