Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh, Poop.

A couple weeks ago, something happened that I have come to think of as “The Incident.” After it was over I had intended to sit down and write about it, the emotions being raw and fresh, but my bruised and battered psyche must have stopped me because I forgot until today.

It was a Friday just like any other Friday. Paul had gone to work. I had been dragged out of bed at an ungodly hour by two girls who – despite my best efforts - continue to insist that “day” starts when the sun comes up. Ha, as if.

Maybe it was because of the early morning fog I was mired in, but I failed to notice that a certain potty-trained girl who still wears diapers at night had neglected to remove said diaper and change into underwear. And now she had pooped in it. I had just finished changing a particularly gross Jacinta diaper, and was on my way to change Ariadne’s, so I gave a firm instruction to WAIT, so help me, and I will come change your poop as well.

Upon re-entering the hallway I was struck by a strong odor and knew that a certain someone had failed to follow my instruction. But nothing could prepare me for the destruction that lay within. As I turned the corner into the girls’ bedroom, I literally screamed in dismay. And kept screaming.

“WHAT DID YOU DO? WHY DIDN’T YOU WAIT FOR ME? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” All of these things came out of my mouth, not in anger, but sheer panic. Because my sweet little three-year-old had taken matters into her own hands (not literally, thank God), and removed her poopy diaper. Then proceeded to step in it and track it all around the carpet in front of her bed.

In retrospect, I am sure that mothers have faced many worse messes than this. I have heard tales of poop smeared across walls and crib slats, and even (shudder) eaten. But at that moment I could not imagine even one thing that could possibly be worse. This was the worst thing that had happened to anyone, anywhere. I wished desperately that I could go back in time five minutes and make Ariadne sit in her own poopy diaper just a little bit longer so that I could erase this mess and the work I knew it would take to fix it.

After getting over the initial shock and paralysis, I carried the offending party to the bath where I proceeded to clean her off. Once she was clean and dressed, I sat her down on the couch and pondered this poopy problem.

Even though we’ve dealt with pet messes of various types before, my brain simply refused to recall anything helpful when I tried to decide on the first step. So, of course, I called my husband, which immediately calmed me down and jumpstarted my brain. Not to say that I recalled anything useful, but I did have the insight to consult an expert – Google.

When you search for “clean poop from carpet” there is no lack of results. Unfortunately for me, many of the helpful tips begin with something like “Gently pick up the fecal matter, taking care not to smear it into the carpet.” That advice, while helpful in many cases, was totally useless to me. It was already smeared into the carpet in about fifteen different places, so there would be no “gentle” removal here.

I finally stumbled across this gem, which in addition to being a bit more useful, also made me laugh. I think my shoulders actually made creaking noises as they lowered down from ear-level to a less-stressed position. I took the article’s advice and made the offending party sit in the room and watch while I cleaned up. I did not, however, feel up to taking pictures, so that opportunity is forever lost. Sorry to disappoint.

After reading the article, I formulated my plan of attack and got started. I used toilet paper to get the biggest pieces, and I didn’t worry too much about smearing since that part had already been accomplished. I then grabbed some old rags out of the rag bag (thank God for the rag bag), got them damp and just a little soapy, and picked at the fibers the best I could. Because the surface area was so large, there was no way I could pick at every fiber, but I worked on the worst areas.

Then, despite most of the contrary advice I had seen, I scrubbed. There was so much poop in the carpet already, I figured it couldn’t possibly get worse. And I was right. In this situation, the scrubbing helped a lot. It got the bulk of the poop out of the carpet. In your face, Google!

But I was left with the coffee-brown smudges described in the last step of the article. While I was tempted to try hydrogen peroxide, I remembered we still had a bottle of Folex that my mom had given us a while back. So I grabbed said bottle and got spraying. Then I grabbed more old rags and scrubbed the hell out of that carpet. And though my arm was about to fall off when I finished, that stuff worked.

It still smelled a little like poop in the room, and the carpet was a bit damp, so it was hard to tell at first if I had gotten all the stains. I sprinkled some baking soda over the area, pointed a fan at it, and then decided that it was the perfect time to clean the toilets and showers. I think my logic was along the lines of “well the kids’ shower is poopy so I need to clean it and might as well do my shower while I’m at it and hey I forgot to clean the toilets yesterday…” I think it was only adrenaline that kept me going.

Later, I stopped by Home Depot to pick up another bottle of Folex in case it was needed. But when I vacuumed the carpet, the smell and the stains were gone. Phew!

I’d like to wrap up with some deep thoughts about lessons learned, but really the rest of that day is kind of a blur. Maybe the moral would be something like “rolling with the punches” or “patience is a virtue”.

No wait, I got it.

Sh*t happens.


  1. Oh. Wow.
    I'm pretty sure I would have sat down and cried. You deserve an award.

  2. I have to admit that I laughed when I got the call...kind of. The wiser part of me knew that my wife was in no mood for humor and that the "funny side" of this story would need to be eased into. So I refrained for 30 or 40 seconds. I think she was even gracious enough to laugh...just one more reason I love her...knee deep in poop-ocalypse and she still will laugh at my jokes.


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