At Terzo's one year checkup, his pediatrician prescribed a laxative powder that I'd mix into water (or juice, if I could get him to drink that) and would help him move his bowels like a normal human being. She cautioned me that the dosage may need adjusting once the laxative started to take full effect. When we got home, I dutifully followed the doctor's instructions and started giving Terzo the laxative once a day.
Two days later, my husband took off for a business trip. Dinner time rolled around, and I had so little desire to cook that I did the unthinkable. I took three children out to dinner alone. Prima had just turned seven, Secondo was two and a half, and, like I said, Terzo was one. I chose a restaurant close to home, someplace with decent food and a kid-friendly attitude disguised by grown-up decor. The few other weeknight diners were spread throughout the dining room. We ate a quiet meal and, as the waitress took our dessert order I began to smugly congratulate myself on my outstanding parenting skills. My mind wandered into a favorite fantasy, where other diners approached our table and complemented me on the fine manners and exceptional beauty of my children. "Why dear, we didn't even realize there were children in the restaurant!" they'd gush.
Then, I looked and Terzo and my heart sank.
Red face. Eyes squeezed shut. Tense little body. Grunting. Oh, the dreaded poop face! It was too late to do anything other than wait for him to finish and hope he didn't throw up. Then, I remembered the laxatives. Would they be working already? I scooted over to take a quick peek down the back of Terzo's little jeans as he sat in the restaurant's high chair, and the sight which assaulted my eyes is something I will never forget as long as I live.
A stain, spreading nearly all the way up the back of his shirt. As if that wasn't bad enough, poo began to ooze over the top of his diaper, right into his pants. Horrified, I decided my only option was to throw the kids into the minivan, race home, and hose Terzo down in the yard.
Wait...it was winter. Never mind.
I'd have to use the restaurant bathroom. I grabbed the diaper bag and did a quick inventory.
Not good. One pink sock, one diaper, three ancient Cheerios, two baby wipes, a tongue depressor, and Terzo's Yankees jacket. The curse of the third child strikes again. Who really bothers to leave the house prepared after that third baby comes along?
As I sat trying to figure out what to do with Prima and Secondo while I attempted to clean Terzo up, the waitress returned with dessert. I had no choice but to rely on the ice cream to keep the two older kids at the table while I was in the bathroom, which (luckily) was very close to our seats. I gingerly picked Terzo up, holding him at arms' length, and carried him into the bathroom.
That's when the real fun began. Keeping my ears peeled for unusual noises from the dining room, I stripped Terzo to his birthday suit and attempted to clean him up with only two baby wipes. Not happening. I grabbed fistfuls of coarse paper towels from the bathroom's dispenser, wet them in the sink, and tried to clean Terzo as he checked out the exciting world of Restaurant Bathroom. Because, no way was I going to make that kid lay down on a public restroom floor. If you've never had to clean liquid feces off an extremely mobile toddler while preventing him from playing in a public toilet, you haven't truly lived.
Listening hard for sounds from the dining room, I anxiously waited to hear an outraged voice exclaim, "Why are these poor young children here alone?!?! Call the police and DCF immediately!!" Or, the sounds of little feet running around the restaurant, shattering china, thrown cutlery, and the insane giggles of children on a destructive rampage.
Working frantically now, I wiped as much poo out of Terzo's pants as I could and put them back on his little body. His shirt was beyond help, so I tossed it into the garbage with a huge pile of soiled paper towels and a diaper that was, quite possibly, the smelliest diaper in human history. I zipped Terzo into his jacket and hoped it wasn't obvious he had no shirt on underneath it. I sat back, surveyed my apparently clean child, and then thought, "Oh, crap." Literally.
In my desperation to change Terzo while psychically monitoring my other children, I hadn't even noticed how unclean the bathroom had become. We'd managed to smear poo on the floor, on the potty, and on the wall. Oh, and on my jeans. Thank goodness for well-stocked paper towel dispensers. A few quick wipes, and the evidence of our diaper disaster had disappeared. Well, other than the horrifying odor.
After thoroughly scrubbing both our hands, I held my breath and carried Terzo out of the restroom. I didn't even want to know what Prima and Secondo had done to entertain themselves during that little poop party. When I saw them still sitting quietly, eating ice cream and not surrounded by cops, social workers, reporters, and outraged restaurant patrons (not to mention creepy van owners), I felt indescribable relief.
The bill paid, I quietly informed the waitress that someone should change the garbage in the bathroom. I really hope they also doused the entire room in undiluted bleach. I took everyone home, gave Terzo a bath, took a shower, and washed our clothes twelve times in hot water. I vowed never to leave the house without a well-stocked diaper bag again, never to take three children out to eat alone again (and yeah, those vows were broken pretty quickly), and to immediately cut back on that laxative dosage.
Five years later, I'm happy to report that Terzo's diet has somewhat improved. He'll eat a few kinds of fruit, anyway, and hasn't had a need for laxatives for years. His bowels are quite regular in that he moves them almost daily. He also manages to clog the toilet almost daily. Yes, he still defies the laws of physics. How is it that the smallest person in our family, the person who ingests the least amount of food, produces unflushable poo? Sometimes, my husband and I just stand and stare at the toilet in wonderment. Should we call the Guinness World Record people? A doctor? An exorcist?