You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em

Bea woke up with the superdumps two days ago. I am not sure if it was the roughly half a can of Pringles (or, as she refers to them, “sprinkle chips”) she had consumed the day before, or the half a gallon of apple juice, but baby had the epic shits.

She was being her normal goofy self, so I chalked it up to some bad food choices. When she’d crapped maybe her eighth diaper in an hour, though, I became a bit concerned. Her green froggy blanket was covered in diarrhea. I’d wiped down the easy chair, Resolve’d the couch, and laid down a beach towel where she sat. She was happily eating Ritz crackers and drinking chocolate milk (It was skim milk with Nesquik, okay, give me a break), so I didn’t think it was a stomach bug.

After the 12th diaper and third bath (the first bath that didn’t end in her kicking poop around), I started putting old swim diapers on her and expressed concern that maybe we’d have to run to the store and get more regular diapers. Gina expressed concern that maybe Bea needed to go to the doctor.

“Nah,” I said. “They can’t really do anything for the shits.” Well, except stick an IV in you, but she wasn’t febrile (I love this word), or barfing, and she was still eating and drinking, so I figured this was just one of the Fun Things About Being a Parent.

Something occurred to me as afternoon struck. I’ve had the dumps before. Everyone has. There comes a point when you are experiencing the discomfort of dump contractions, but you’ve already shit your brains out, so you have to kinda hold that shit in. Maybe I’m wrong but I am pretty certain that when most people have diarrhea they don’t sit on the toilet for twelve hours of gaping assitude, leaking brown water every time they have the slightest tickle of a cramp. You suck your asshole in and hope you don’t shit yourself for a few minutes so you can live your life.

I can’t say I am an expert at this. I haven’t eaten at Olive Garden in five years because a bad experience with lobster ravioli had me shitting my jeans in Wal-Mart about 45 minutes after consumption. I’m not talking about a shart. I am saying it was a full-on pile like the one Laura Dern thrusts her arm into on Jurassic Park. You know, right after Steven Spielberg murders that poor defenseless endangered triceratops.

I will never forget the look on the face of the poor lad at the urinal as I leaned against the opposite wall and waited for the man in the single toilet stall to get the fuck out of there. My guts were audibly gurgling as I mustered all of my might to hold back the roiling flood. Wave after wave of ass contractions hit me until it happened.

It is not as if I decided to shit my pants, but at some point your body will collapse no matter the strength of your will or we’d all be lifting cars over our heads willy-nilly. No, the caca decided it was time to emerge, and my bowels emitted the noise the La Brea Tar Pits make on cartoons. The boy had concluded his business and turned to face me, slowly, as a look of horror dawned on his face, and the stall to my left finally opened, revealing some guy whose face I cannot remember because I was too busy having twelve pounds of crap slide into my flimsy Fruit of the Looms.

I waddled into the stall, removed my jeans, dumped my drawers into the toilet the best I could and cleaned myself as well as one is able to with the John Wayne TP they stock in that hellhole. Then, I did something heroic.

I put my shitty jeans back on and opted not to leave the dung encrusted boxers on the tile floor, which is, in my experience after over a decade in retail, what over 99% of the afflicted regularly do. No, I waited patiently for my chance and sprung from the stall to place them in their proper place, a trash receptacle.

Gingerly, I stepped from the restroom and did the walk of shame past Wal-Mart’s front checkout aisles. I drove home with the windows down, and when I arrived, I entered the shower fully clothed. There might have been a manly single tear or two shed in there, but it was hard to tell amongst the laughter and the rain.

With regard to Bea, it occurred to me that she might think pushing every time you have the poop tickle is the thing to do. She had achieved some semblance of potty training before Willie arrived and has experienced an almost total reversion, which is natural for kids to do when a baby comes along. Still, I knew she’d gotten it into her head that since she felt like pooping, she needed to poop. It was all the time now, thanks to being down with the sickness. She had become Dumps, defecator of worlds.

“Bea,” I said. “Stop pooping so much.”

“Stop pooping?” she asked.

“Yes Bea. You don’t have to poop all the time.”

“Oh, okay!” she said, and it was over. She stopped pooping.

Granted, I understand how this could lead to her holding it too much, but we can cross and/or burn that bridge when we get there. I didn’t say, “Never poop again.” I told her to stop pooping so much, and it seemed like she caught my drift. There’s something to be said for the fine art of Holding It.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, except for when she caught me playing Fallout 4 after her nap. I kept going because the kids find the settlement-building minigame pretty fascinating, and they seem to enjoy my descriptions of things. Cora thinks the guns are lasers and I rationalized this out loud by saying, “Well, it’s not any worse than Star Wars,” which is full of lasers, right? Gina didn’t buy this for a second.

I made the mistake of venturing out of town, where I was forced to put down some pesky raiders with my trusty sidearm. One guy’s head exploded after a critical hit and Bea said, in her best Shirley Temple, “Oh, no! That’s not very nice.”

I dropped the controller into my lap and put my hands over my face. “I can’t do this,” I muttered. “Guys, this is a game, okay. It’s not real, like a cartoon. You shouldn’t shoot anyone with anything.”

I saved my game and turned it off. “Hey kids,” I said, “it’s suppertime. Let’s go make some cornbread.”

They cheered, and we did.