Don’t Touch Poop!

My wildebeest of a two year old just clomped up to me wearing a pair of my boots and offered me an invisible “nack” out of the palm of her hand. Swoon. Part of what makes children such spectacular little creatures is the way in which they, as of yet not tampered with, are so perfectly themselves. She is a manic and unpredictable wildebeest of a child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But midway through applauding her animalism I caught a whiff of something unsavory. As she reached her hand into my mouth to delivery an imaginary cracker I realized what it was: her hands.

“Don’t touch poop,” has become something of a cause célèbre in my home. She loves the slogan, but seems to think it means, “Yes, please do touch your poop. Touch it in your diaper. Pull it out, put it on the floor and maybe try your hand at sculpture.” I say it over and over again while waving my hands parallel to the floor in the international sign for “DO NOT DO.” I say it while wagging my finger. I shriek in horror. I wretch. And still, even with all these cues, she touches her poop while chanting proudly, “Don’t touch poop! Don’t touch poop!”

I put her down for naps in onesies under overalls under winter coats. I put her on the potty and cheerily goad, “This is where you poop. Poop goes here.” On the occasion that a poop happens to make it into the potty I peel out the praise. “Hooray! Poop on the potty! Poop on the potty!” Silly me. Now she pulls the poop out of her diaper, carries it in her own grubby hand to the potty, drops it in and then gives herself an unselfconscious round of applause, saying, as if the words had no meaning, “Don’t touch poop. Poop on the potty. Yay!”

Of course I prefer her potty hand deliveries to her sculptures, but really, what kind of choice is that? And yes, I know that a preoccupation with bodily functions is par for the course with a toddler and her behavior, no matter how maddening, is normal. Plenty of parents before me have dealt with fecal fascination and, with apologies to the expectant and those contemplating offspring, plenty more parents will deal with this in the future. But that doesn’t make it any less a Freudian nightmare for me, her mother.

If anyone has a solution for the daily poop-tastrophes in my home, I’m all ears, but I have a feeling this is just one of those things I have to wait out. If it were at all practical she would spend her entire life in a sleeper put on backwards, but 1) that would make diaper changes impossibly time consuming and 2) I’m trying, even if ineffectually, to minimize the psychological damage on my poor child. She is, after all, just being herself and that self is really, really, really into poop.

JJ Keith is a stay-at-home parent to a prodigiously mischievous toddler daughter and a relatively subdued infant son. She sometimes works as a college writing instructor and periodically takes freelance writing jobs, but she spends most of her time trying to find a balance between respecting her childrens’ budding independence and enforcing the “no eating dog food” rule.