The brown stuff: The day my toddler ‘painted the house’ with poo

Posted in Behaviour and Discipline.

I remember this nightmare like it was yesterday. In fact, I might still be suffering from PTSD. Because when your toddler takes off their nappy and dabs the contents absolutely everywhere, it’s not something you forget in a hurry.

Silence is not golden

There I was, minding my own business – actually I was looking after my newborn while the toddler was having his daytime nap. I never heard a thing. I thought he was sleeping peacefully in his bed in a nappy – because although we’d started toilet training, he was still using them for sleep times. Oh how I was wrong. Thinking his nap was extraordinarily long, I headed into his bedroom for a check. I was greeted with POO. EVERYWHERE.

Speechless and clueless

I’m not usually short of words (especially of the potty-mouth variety), but I couldn’t even utter a solitary (and literal) “shit” when I was confronted with this heinous crime scene. For a good minute or two I just gasped and gasped, as my eyes darted from the wardrobe to the walls, to the carpet and then every toy and item in that room that had been touched by poo. I couldn’t even laugh or cry, I was in utter shock while my son just looked up innocently at me. And then I walked a few more steps and found he had also made a poop trail into our bedroom too.

Happy toddler looking between her legs - feature

Shit had hit the fan

Had monkeys climbed through the window and thrown their shit everywhere? Nope, it was worse. I quickly deduced that my son had quietly woken, hopped out of bed with a fully soiled nappy and then ripped it off (because who wants to walk around attached to their poo)? He had then obviously tried to wipe his bum with his hands, and then ‘cleaned’ his hands by wiping them over EVERYTHING. After that it appeared he’d sat down to nonchalantly read books and play with toys (with his POO COVERED HANDS), plus an uncovered dirty bare bum on the carpet and his ride on truck. And then he traipsed into my bedroom for a good touchy feel over everything too. Nice. He may as well have just thrown his nappy at the fan.

Call for help

After my initial shock, I tried to call my husband – FAIL – in work meetings. Instantly I felt the urge to connect with friends or anyone, to communicate the next level shit I was in. In desperation, I wrote this Facebook status post:

“Oh my god my toddler has smeared poo all over his bedroom and ours. Carpet, books, beds, the works. Where do I start? SOMEONE HELP ME!”

Unfortunately with me alone with two young kids in the house (and splattered brown stuff everywhere), I couldn’t wait for comments, I had to google it – fast!

The big clean up

The first thing the wise old internet told me was to point at the poo in front of my child and say “no” and then clean them. In my case, wipes were not enough so a shower was necessary. Luckily my baby had gone for a sleep so I could focus all my attention on the shitstorm my firstborn had created. Once the culprit was clean, I was then advised to contain him in something like a high chair so they a) couldn’t go back to their shit, and b) could watch me as I cleaned their shit. Apparently seeing the effort a parent has to make when cleaning a mess they’ve made is really good for toddlers.

Oh lord, the stains

Having recently carpeted the house I was pretty keen to make sure this poo was not going to stick around. I went nuts on wipes, vinegar, paper towel, water and more. It worked – woo! Linen was thrown in the wash and wipes were again high in demand (sorry environment) as I hurriedly purified all other surfaces and toys. Books, well they were another problem altogether. I tried to clean as many as I could but, I’m sad to say that lots of them had to be binned – I just couldn’t face it. Why had he turned the pages of so many books with his poo-covered hands? Damn that inquisitive mind.

Did I learn anything?

When the nightmare was all over, I could reflect on the incident and actually realised a few things:

  • Beware of silence: Just because your toddler’s quiet, it doesn’t mean they’re sleeping.
  • You can remove all evidence of poo: Cleaning is not a myth, all the poo will come off (with the exception of books).
  • Don’t lose your shit: Just because they lost theirs doesn’t mean you should lose yours.
  • Kids do understand: By being calm yet direct, I got the message across that what he did was wrong (and it was never repeated again).
  • Parents need at least one good shitstorm in their life: You’ve got to laugh at kids, and it makes a great story after all!
  • This wasn’t going to be my last rodeo: I had two small sons at this point, and now I have another one who’s just turned one. Obviously I’m really looking forward to the day he starts toilet training …

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