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Poop Smearing | The Darkest Hour is Often Before Dawn

Sitting on a beach in Ballybunion with my paramour in 2009, I remember the two of us eye-rolling behind trendy shades when we heard the mom near us chastising her young son for just about everything he did, touched or looked at, on that (fairly) sunny afternoon.

'William, your bottom is wet! William, don't touch that! William! Will you sit down beside me, and don’t move.' The shrillest announcement was that there was 'sand everywhere now, William!' Poor William was getting hectored for just doing his thing and having a good old time, and meanwhile, his mom’s high pitched voice was cutting right though our Irish Times travel supplement. That day, we were planning our wedding playlist, and talking about the festival tickets we had just bought; enjoying the sun on our faces, and the sand that was everywhere. We'd never, ever be like...

Oh-but-wait... Suddenly it's 6 years later, I'm heavily pregnant and my beautiful toddling daughter has just stopped volunteering to pee in the potty. The voice control, I tell myself. Don't be shrill, I mutter, stomping around the kitchen with the eyes of a crazy lady and a kitchen roll in my hand. Don't ever make her feel bad or self conscious or ashamed that she's weed all over the floor again! Take a breath, and then take another one. Lift the love of your life up, have a groan, and carry her to the toilet while she swings her faintly damp legs. After that, you'll start all over again. The big, brown eyed gaze of her is enough to feed your spirits most days, but there are times when you're really struggling to find it.

When you're tired, your voice and your bad hair will give you away. It often takes a voice from right outside your everyday life to make you hear how bad you sound, and in my case it was the Sky TV guy, telling me gently that maybe she didn't really mean to do it on the floor. After that, I gathered my poor-embarrassed-self up and started again, and cleaned up a lot more wee the next day and indeed the following week.

You should never, ever compare your children to other children (though of course you're going to do this). You should absolutely never compare your children to each other (but... ah... you feelin' me, here?). One close friend who owns a Chihuahua was horrified, telling me that at least his pride and joy goes on the mat! I really tried not to compare my brown eyed beauty to anyone, and stuck with it. The darkest hour is often before dawn, and so it was. After a few false starts at spontaneous toilet usage, I found the owner of the biggest eyes you've ever seen, daubing poo all over the play kitchen in her bedroom.

I wailed, and I shrieked. I was speechless, only finding the words to ask my husband to help me clean it up (he cleaned all of it up). I looked up 'poop smearing' online, and found that it's often the most searched for term on any parent and baby website. It's common. It can go on for varying periods of time, and it's tormenting. We kept the toy kitchen - the cleanup job was ace, I must say, better than I would have done myself.

Somehow, the owner of those eyes never felt moved to tears by me during the almost three months it took to toilet train her. The joy I feel at hearing her tinkle all on her ownio offsets the grim knowledge that she doesn't wipe her bum properly at all. My dear husband doesn't wear trendy sunnies these days, because the last pair were stood on, and he still occasionally suffers indignities in this parenting role: last Saturday, he took our two preschoolers for a quick trip to the local hardware shop, where our dear daughter produced a really messy poop in a display toilet. This is what happens when they are well and truly trained - they will go for the unplumbed toilet, running faster than you can catch them! The shop assistant didn't miss a beat, and handing the dettol spray and big blue roll over to my better half, telling him that it could happen to a bishop.

Indeed it could, but no bishop so cute.

Written by Emer Liston for eumom


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