“Andrew … we need you up here.”
The call came from the bathroom upstairs. My sister, Alli, and brother-in-law were in that room, overseeing the bathing of my ten-month-old daughter, Malia. Alli’s voice communicated a mix of horror, confusion, and desperation, so I scampered up the stairs imagining the worst.
Alli was at the door of the bathroom, the look upon her face matching the tone with which she’d called me. The explanation for her panic was straightforward: “Malia… pooped in the tub.”
It was clear that the small print in the unwritten Aunt and Uncle Giving Baby Niece a Bath agreement didn’t cover such a situation. If Bathing Subject excretes poop into the tub, Aunt and Uncle are exempt from dealing with said poop. Fair enough. Always read the fine print.
Thing was, I wasn’t really clear on my unwritten Dad agreement for such a situation. We were in new territory, my beautiful child not having previously excreted poop in a tub. Further, I had no idea what protocol was for such a situation. Knowledge-less and experience-less, I too wanted to call a responsible adult to have them properly deal with this disgusting situation.
And then it hit me: I was the responsible adult.
Not because I’d completed some course work. Not because I’d dealt with such situations on previous occasions. Because I was Malia’s dad, I was the one responsible for this little girl. I was the responsible adult. The Turd Scoop was mine to deal with.
And so I did. Without proper training and making it up as I went along, I took care of the situation.
So it is, I’ve found, with much of fatherhood. Despite what my kids think, despite the capable image that I attempt to project, a fair amount of fatherhood is made-up-on-the-fly, I’ve-got-to-because-who-else-will?, taking care of the situation.
And guess what? You can do it. You are the responsible adult, and you can scoop that turd and get bath time back on track.
That bigger lesson aside, I’m guessing you’re like me in not having an established process for dealing with a bathtime poop. So, for what it’s worth, here’s the Turd Scoop Protocol that I developed that night (it has, unfortunately, served me well on other occasions):
- Get the kid out of the tub (post haste).
- Get the poop out of the tub (with your hand through an inside-out-ziplock baggie or with handful of toilet paper, depending on what’s readily available).
- Get the water out of the tub.
- Get the germs out of the tub (scrub down with tub cleaner and brush; rinse – don’t forget to cleanse any bathtub toys as well).
- Finish the bath.
After a successful bath, it’s tough to beat a good read-aloud; try something from Mo Willems or Oliver Jeffers. Cleaning a turded tub isn’t home repair, but when it’s time for home repair consider this guide.