When my youngest son was born, a nurse in the maternity ward did a really odd thing. “Ooh! Someone made a stinky!” she exclaimed, and with expert efficiency, changed my son’s diaper and then weighed it. “Well! You’ve got to be happy about that, dad!” she said to me before rushing out of the room. I’m unsure what she thought it was that would make me happy, the fact that she left, or the fact that a random stranger just weighed my son’s shit.
This was just the beginning of what seems to me an unnatural interest in my son’s “leavings” by others. His mother would often comment on them (usually during dinner, as moms are wont to do), well-wishers would ask politely about how often he would leave “presents” in his diaper, and usually follow up with some amusing anecdote about their own children’s “presents”.
From time to time, I’d receive a call at work from his day care provider. “I just wanted you to know that he’s been going a lot today, and it’s very runny.” Did they think we were running some sort of Shit Pool at the office and needed regular updates?
Later on, my son began to show symptoms of stool refusal, a charming condition in which a child refuses to defecate with predictable (and incredibly foul) results. This became a hot topic of conversation between his day care providers, his parents, his pediatrician, and anyone else who had a child, or knew a child, or heard of someone who knew a child with this condition.
And of course we had to discuss this condition with my son so that he would understand that it is NOT ok to refuse to go the bathroom, and that he could get very sick. Then we began to reward him for dropping a deuce, which is pretty fucking ridiculous when you think about it. But we did it anyway, even going so far as to making a HUGE deal out of it when he had the foresight to relieve himself of his burden before going on stage for the yearly Christmas pageant.
So it’s totally understandable that he has this sense that his bowel movements are of great interest to other people. It’s literally been a topic of conversation since he was born, and why should that change all of a sudden?
Lord knows that his older brother isn’t going to steer him away from the subject matter. One time I discovered that the two of them had been secretly creating an entirely new Fecal Taxonomy when my eldest son announced that he had to go to the potty. I asked, as all parents do, whether he needed to go number one or number two.
“Number five,” he said before running off to the bathroom.
My youngest son looked up at me with an aura of awe surrounding him. “Wow. Number five… That’s serious!”
All of this is preface to a conversation that I had with my youngest son in school this afternoon. He just started kindergarten a few weeks ago which is a huge deal for any child, my son being no exception. “When you go to kindergarten,” I would often tell him, “you’ll be a Big Boy!” And I’m sure that he filed that away in his busy little brain in the section reserved for Big Boy Facts right next to another nugget of information that I’m sure that I mentioned more than once , “Big boys don’t poop in their pants!”
And so this exchange ensued in a crowded hallway with my son shouting at the top of his little lungs to make sure that I, and indeed people in neighboring countries, could hear.
Son: DADDY! I WENT POOP TODAY!
Me: Oh yeah? Listen, maybe we should talk about this after we get in the…
Son: AT FIRST IT WAS JUST A TINY PIECE OF POOP THAT CAME OUT OF MY BUTT…
Me: That’s nice, but we should…
Son: BUT THEN I SAT A LITTLE LONGER AND GUESS WHAT?
Me: Hey, let’s talk about this when…
Son: THEN I TOOK A MASSIVE DUMP!
Me: Look, I’m glad that you…
Son: IT WAS HUGE! BUT THEN GUESS WHAT?
Me: Oh my God…
Son: THEN IT STARTED BEING LIKE DIARRHEA! HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Son: I KNOW! IT WAS LIKE THREE POOPS! A LITTLE POOP, A MASSIVE DUMP, AND THEN SOME DIARRHEA!
Me: Well, I applaud your productivity and your enthusiasm, young sir. Way to go!
Son: I KNOW! I WAS PRETTY HAPPY ABOUT IT TOO!