“We stopped at a gas station in nowhere Oregon, two hours into a 12 hour road trip to a family funeral, when the diarrhea struck. My wife and two older kids were in the van, while I was inside looking for cornflakes with my 4-year’old.
We b-lined into the restroom, making it just in time. I had no choice but to take my 4-year-old into the stall with me. Aspen watched as I struggled, Moana light-up crocs on the wrong feet, blue eyes wide and supportive, hands clapping. ‘Good job, Daddy! Good job! You make two poops! Now three poops! I’m four!’
‘Yucky, Daddy. It’s stinky.’
I’m not sure what happened exactly, if I’d eaten something wrong, or if it was the stress of traveling with kids, but what I do know is that my 4yo daughter is the Richard Simmons of pooping. I’ve never felt so supported in anything in my whole life. She commented on the size, smell, and sound. ‘Wow!’ She said. She commented on my work ethic. ‘You’re trying so hard!’ At one point I had to actually push her face away from the business end of things as she clapped and cried ‘You’re doing it, Daddy! You’re doing it!’
She’s potty trained, sure. But she’s also easily distracted, and prone to potty accidents. I suppose she’s gotten used to the positive reinforcement Mel and I give her each time she goes. And when I’m cheering her on in our family restroom, it seems normal, even appropriate. But when the roles are reversed, it’s just, well, awkward. Particularly in a public restroom where the man in the stall next to me was obviously holding back tears of laughter. Laughter that busted loose when she called me a ‘pooping-farting robot.’
Naturally it all passed, and as I buckled Aspen into the car seat, a small package of anti-diarrhea pills held in my mouth, Mel asked what took so long, and I rolled my eyes and mumbled, ‘You don’t want to know.’
It was then that Aspen was kind enough to recount the story to her mother, clapping the whole time. I sat in the driver’s seat. Mel patted my leg, ‘Nice work, Daddy.’
All I could do was say, ‘Thank you.’
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