In the beginning, there is the pinched little face, newer than a dew drop, taking its first breath in your arms. By this point — birth — my daughter had already taken her first poop ~inside me~ and I’ve been elbows deep in it ever since. At first you treat it like a vital sign, the fecal matter ("here is the color readout from the past five days, Doc!!") and then it becomes a substance you don’t actively think about much, even though it carpets your IKEA Ektorp sofa. Until the first poop in the bath tub.
Right on cue, it is the team-building exercise you didn’t know you needed. “Poop!” yelled my husband the first time, spiking my pulse, and propelling me toward the bathroom like David Charvet toward the breakers. We dug through the bathroom toy bin, feverishly waving about various toys, looking for an appropriate device — should we scoop it with the smiling whale cup? The mermaid bowl? How do we disinfect a poop bath? Poooooooooop!
In the heat of a bath decontamination drill, the nugget of poop isn’t worried at all. It bobs about like a cockle-covered mooring in a pristine bay, drifting over an invisible anchor. It knocks against a rubber Buzz Lightyear on the evening tide. The child, too, is indifferent: it was part of them and now it is not. They have bubbles, a brush, foam letters, a new feeling of serenity. What do they care about a turd lighter than the air itself?
Is there anything quite like pooping in the bath? I once pooped in my grandparent’s pool as a kid. I’m not sure what came over me, other than the concept of a water birth freshly hatched, years before I would hear of Ina May Gaskin. I can’t remember much about it, but it must have been heavenly, pooping in zero gravity.
What a miracle it must be for our babies to expel a mass, but feel their weight hold steady, as though they are expelling nothing more than a bad idea. I suppose astronauts would know what it's like.
To everything there is a season, and this is the season for pooping in the bath.
We have had multiple poop-in-bath drills by now. It gets exponentially more exciting when there are two children in a bath to fend off from feces. It's an automatic get-out-of-hair-washing-night card, if you know how to play it. It's something I once bleached from our sky-blue tub with the verve of a serial killer, and now figure will wash itself off if the sugar body scrub I use approximately once a month finds its way to the porcelain. There's poop in the bath? Where isn't there poop, I feel.
There comes a time between full-on diaper-wearing and what I will generously term "being potty-trained," when poop becomes unpredictable. There are conversations about it with the child. Topical books are purchased, their short narratives bent entirely to the concept of "get it in the toilet ffs." To everything there is a season, and this is the season for pooping in the bath. It coincides with the realization of a child that they are a lone body in a busy world, and that their power is limited. They understand that they are growing. They were small and now they're not. They had a belly full of noodles, and now they don't. We must remember to hold onto the miracle of it while easing that floater out on an unfurled toilet roll.
I never apologized to my grandfather, who scooped my poop out of the pool (I hope?). As a people, we really haven't talked about it until now. But it is happening. What a life! In the multiverse, every child is pooping every night in every bath tub. Think about that.
*Just a note that this post in no way applies to bath diarrhea — that crap is disgusting.
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