Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Laxative Incident

During Terzo's late infant/early toddler months, he suffered from severe constipation.  He was still breastfed, but his diet seriously lacked variety.  He ate bread, cheese, and those dried apple snacks from the baby food aisle.  That's it.  No real fruit, no meat, no vegetables, not even a sip of juice here and there.  It's no wonder the kid could only move his bowels once a week and those events were marked by crying, vomiting, and wonderment.  Wonderment, because the resulting diaper changes had my husband and me standing around questioning the laws of physics.  Seriously, I'd add a drawing here just to illustrate how unbelievably brick-like Terzo's poops were but no one would believe it.

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. 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.

But all was quiet.  Too quiet.  What if my kids weren't even in the restaurant any more?  What if they were, at that very moment, being lured into a shabby van filled with shadowy, creepy people?

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?


  1. I absolutely hooted with this story. I only have one son, but you brought back some really good memories (well, they're good now). I'm stopping by from FTLOB. Have a great weekend.

  2. What a horrifying...and hilarious story.

    "the curse of the third child" sooo true. I didn't even bother with a diaper bag by the third. I was lucky if I even had an extra diaper in my purse:)

  3. Been there. But never in a restaurant. I applaud your level-headedness, and your bravery in warning other patrons via waitstaff, of the bathroom predicament. I would have to bring a pair of handcuffs with just ONE child left at the table. That might summon social services though.

  4. haha! i love terzo's poop face.

    looks just like my boyfriend's ex whenever we run into her.

  5. Hhahaha okay I just out laughed loud!! Glad he is okay now but this is still pretty funny!

  6. Hilarious! Your blog is my new favorite find. I love the pictures.

  7. CinfulCinnamon and Cakeologist: Thanks for stopping by!

    The Schweitzers: It really was some kind of miracle my two year old stayed at the table. Although, if you were to handcuff an ankle to a table leg, it might not be so noticeable.

    Henrietta: I hope your boyfriend's ex had more hair! Yikes!

    Lindsay: Thanks!

    Amber_D: I've been a fan of your blog for a while now, so that means a lot to me! Thanks!

  8. Oh my god!! Poor you! I can not begin to imagine your stress level!! I will congratulate you on having such well behaved chn and also managing a sticky situation very well!!

    I will forever remember this story when I have children and sort the nappy bag out!!

    Just stopping by from FTLOB!

  9. Hiya,
    I'm Ellie from A Little of This and a Little of That and a new follower. Nice Blog. Please stop by my blog ( and follow back.
    Have a super week.

  10. oh man... i don't even know what i would do in that situation. maybe throw my credit card digits at the manager and hightail it outta there...? and then burn every item of clothing Terzo was wearing.

    i've worked in enough restaurants to assure you, you're not the first person to leave the bathroom looking/ smelling like a shit explosion went off.

  11. That is hilarious. I'm amazed that you had the presence of mind to deal with that. I'd still be gibbering in the bathroom, trying to figure out what to do.

  12. I heard about "up the backs" from friends with kids - at the time i thought they were just trying to scare me from having babies. Then I found it wasn't a joke. Now I don't sleep at night.

  13. Oh how this post brought back the memories!!! My daughter..who is now 29...was about 1 1/2 & we had gone to eat with a very prim & proper friend from high school. She did not have the constipation problem..she was cutting molars...& we all know what that can do for the bowel habits!! Anyway, about halfway thru our meal I realized she had become very quite & still. Not a good sign from a rowdy one! Her face was beginning to turn from deep red to purple! I stood up & leaned her forward in the highchair
    ...the entire seat of the highchair was full!! Up her back...& starting to spread toward the front. What to do?? I knew I could not pick her here we go...I pushed baby & all to the bathroom in the highchair! Oh, the looks I got!
    Needless to say...a pack of wipes & a roll of paper towels later I had her & the highchair clean again! I felt so sorry for the next soul that entered that bathroom! As you did I informed the waitress of the bathroom & thankfully left the restaurant with a freshly dressed toddler & a friend that never offered to take us to lunch again!!!

  14. oh my goodness!!!! I went through THE SAME THING. only in an airport. and apparently my husband panics around poo. you poor thing. i completely understand.