brought to you by the number two

The call of nature, especially number two, is a tricky subject to talk about, let alone write about. Some people don't want anything to do with it, and if that's you right now then thanks for stopping by. I'll let you know when the next post, where I compare Olivia's mood swings to all of the characters running in the current presidential candidacy, is published. Should be a hoot.

Still here?

Thanks for staying. Our child wouldn't poop for over a week and it was a frustrating, exhausting, painful and emotional experience. Kind of like trying to find some merit in the Star Wars prequels. I guess there were some cool lightsaber battles, right? Those were so worth it. At least you can fast forward or chapter search directly to those with home video. Not so much when it comes to dealing with constipation and a stubborn child.

Photo credit: Jodi McKee

It all started one evening when Olivia was having some difficulty doing the deed. Admittedly, she does not get enough fiber in her diet because most vegetables are Satan's playthings that she condemns to hell with crossed fingers mimicking a crucifix. Things weren't going so well, which lead to some discomfort and cries for help. You never, ever want to see your child like this, so I did what any good parent would do: I held her hand and coached her through it. I pulled out everything in my bag of tricks: I threw up baseball signs for her to steal home, I chanted for her to "push 'em out, shove 'em out, waaaaaay out," and I started 'The Wave' (which, it turns out, should not be attempted near someone on a toilet). 

At long last, the transaction had been completed. I helped Olivia down to clean her up and took a peek at her handiwork. Without getting too graphic, let me say this: there are times when kids can outperform adults in certain areas and this was one of them. You know when you see something so out of the ordinary, or that takes you completely by surprise, that your first reaction is to laugh? This was that moment for Jodi and me. Problem was, Olivia didn't think it was so funny.

"Stop laughing at me!" she cried out. What we thought would be a shared moment of "accomplishment" and humorous bonding turned out to be an anxiety inducing source of embarrassment for our child. We tried to explain why we reacted that way, but she wasn't having it. Although Olivia went to bed that night seemingly fine, the next morning she brought it up again when she was trying to potty. It seemed as though the damage had been done, and we had given our child another anxiety disorder to go on top of the ones we've already handed down: OCD cleaning of our house whenever anyone visits (including the mailman and Santa Claus), packratting everything until you're *this* close to being on an episode of 'Hoarders' and avoiding movie trailers close to opening day for fear that the entire plot will be spoiled.

From that moment on we noticed a change in Olivia. She started finding hair in weird places on her body, howled at the moon, became uber popular in school and got really good at basketball. Wait, wait, that's the premise of the movie 'Teen Wolf.' What I meant to say was that she started complaining more and more about her stomach hurting, but would point to her nether regions. Then she became constipated and developed a rash. We took her to the doctor, fearing that maybe she had a UTI from not cleaning herself up properly (she's still working on perfecting that). Everything came back negative, but the doctor mentioned constipation and suggested a laxative if it persisted. 

As time passed, she failed to do so. We noticed instances where she'd act like she had to go, but then we'd ask if she did and she'd claim she didn't need to. Bathtime, which is normally quite relaxing for her and gets things moving (if you know what I mean), turned into a point of contention. She knew the magical properties that the bath had on her, and would stand up and clench once that moment arrived. I swear this kid has buns of steel now, although I doubt this kind of exercising was ever part of the original workout video.

A week had come and gone since we had visited the doctor, and there was no end in sight to our "drought." We tried prune juice, reading 'Everyone Poops' and even talking up how there is a poo party underneath the toilet and that hers was missing out on all the fun. Alas, no dice. Olivia's poo was too busy staying in and binging on Netflix shows to be bothered to come out and party. That, and she was being too stubborn to even try. So it was time to move on to Plan L: laxatives.  

I started her off with a small dose when she came home from school, in the hopes that we could keep the impending natural disaster out of the public eye. We waited for the literal shit storm to arrive but, outside of a singular, booming thunderclap of a fart from our child, nothing happened. Jodi upped the dosage and I requested that Olivia stay away from our new couch until the levee had finally broken. I also may have gone a little overboard prepping for what was next, because our apartment looked like a Gallagher performance was about to take place

Two more days passed, and then we finally had a breakthrough one day after school. Olivia and Jodi were out enjoying the fall leaves and I met up with them when I got back from work. Olivia asked if she could ride on my shoulders and, thinking nothing of it, I obliged her. We got inside our apartment and Olivia needed to go potty. We chatted while she went and she informed us that she had gone number two that day during her class's rest period. We cheered and congratulated her for having finally gone. It appeared that the end to our bathroom woes was in sight. And then when she got down to clean herself, I noticed it:  the inside of her underwear, which was clean that morning, looked like it had been paved with asphalt by a road crew. 

We did our best not to overreact, praised her for going and cleaned her up. Then I excused myself, found a place I could be alone and unseen by my child, then reacted accordingly. We're still not sure how the teachers handled this situation, mainly because they never brought it up to us directly, so we're going to leave it as a one off and not worry about it. We're also not sure why they didn't change her into the spare clothes they asked us to provide in case something like this ever came up. If it happens again, we'll make sure to have that discussion. Partially because I don't want my child going through a school day with soiled clothes and, more selfishly, because I don't want to put said clothes so close to my face the next time Olivia wants to ride on my shoulders. 

Photo credit: Jodi McKee

Since then things have mostly improved, but there's never a dull moment with our child. Her bodily waste has been attending parties on a regular basis, there haven't been any more accidents and our couch remains pristine (although there's a toy convention happening underneath it pretty much every day). On the flipside, Olivia now claims that she has to poop during almost every visit to the bathroom. She cleverly does this to delay bedtime, bath time, and getting ready in the morning. 

It used to be a struggle to get her to go to the bathroom, but now it's a struggle to get her to finish up and leave it. Ultimately she's the one in control of her body, so we've got to provide some incentive to get her moving. While the party concept may not have worked to get her to go to the bathroom, maybe it could to get her to leave it. For the mornings, I'm thinking we do a silent rave with headphones so the neighbors don't complain. Before bedtime, however, there's only one logical choice: a pajama-jammy jam a la 'House Party 2.' I wonder if Kid 'n Play are available for small, kid-friendly gatherings?