As moms and dads of special needs kids, we talk about almost every aspect of our lives. We share our hopes and fears, our trials and triumphs. We express great joy at milestones finally reached, and desperate despair that some milestones will never be realized. We talk good days, bad days and everything in between.
There is one piece of reality, though, that I rarely see discussed.
This is about poop. The poop of a 45-pound, five-year-old kid (two of 'em, actually) with sensory issues and anxiety but no sense of what is gross, who isn't potty trained. At all.
Most of your five-year-olds have reached a point where mom doesn't have to be involved in their potty activities as much. You might have your occasional constipation issue or God forbid, diarrhea, but by and large they are taking care of their bathroom needs themselves, like the rest of civilization. You are probably only dealing with a little mess, while they perfect the art of cleaning their own butts.
Not so at our house. I am as involved in the boys' personal bathroom experiences now as I was the day they were born. The two of them poop an average of twice a day (not much constipation here, folks) and they are 5 years and 11 months old, which makes them (getting out my calculator out now) around 2,155 days old, which means there have been 4,310 poops per child, times two for twins -- 8,620 poops since February, 2005. Roughly. Now they were in daycare for about two years, and Mark changes his share, and we do get help from family, so it's not like I've changed all 8,620 of them. But I've definitely changed the majority.
By the way, if the title wasn't warning enough, this post is not for the squeamish.
Gosh, there are just so many awesome things I have to say about the poop in our lives. I hardly know where to begin.
First off there's the marvelous fact that I'm still shopping in the baby section for diapers at Target, for the 8th year in a row. (Aliza was two and in diapers when the boys were born, and they are almost six now...I didn't even have to use the calculator for that one).
Secondly, there's the fact that I'm still dealing with things like diaper rash at age five.
But that's all nothing.
I have to worry about whether they have pooped and will smell in public, especially at school, when they are trying to find a way to fit in and get the other kindergarteners to accept them. And when I say "they are trying" I mean, their teachers and therapists and I are trying.
While they aren't in control and aware enough of their functions to actually go in the potty, they are aware enough to know that they are uncomfortable after pooping and sometimes will stick their hands down their pants to itch or otherwise seek out what is making them feel uncomfortable. That's certainly not going to lead to social acceptance.
(eeuuww, I know. I"m sorry. Hang in there.)
A faint aura of poo hangs in the air like a mist throughout the entire house, nearly all the time. It's like we have a poo-scented air freshener. We take diapers out to the garbage immediately to get them out of the house which helps eliminate some of the pungence. But by garbage day, the stench around the garbage can is sometimes horrifying.
They aren't always cooperative with a diaper change. There can be a lot of squirming. Kind of like an infant might squirm, only they are 45ish pounds, and strong as oxes.
You can scrub the top several layers of skin off your hands with antibacterial soap after changing a poopy diaper, but sometimes that smell just endures for hours. Many days, I spend a great deal of time looking at my hands, sleeves, shirt, and pants trying to figure out if I got a little on me somewhere. The scent of poo follows me everywhere I go. (Oh my, no one is ever going to sit next to me again without sniffing suspiciously, are they?)
I've seen every form of poop that has ever existed. I've seen hard and soft. Rolly and sticky. Runny and thick. Stay-in-one-place, and go-all-over. Brown, tan, beige, cream, green, black, orange, and yellow. But basically, all the forms of poop can all be slotted in one of two descriptions; the rolly kind, or the sticky kind.
While I'm changing the boys, I'll discuss with myself the pros and cons of each type. I can't decide which kind of poop is my favorite.
The rolly kind is easy to pick up and dispose of, but is all too likely to roll right out of the diaper and onto the floor. I may see it immediately and pick it up, or I may not see it. In that case, either I see it within a few minutes and pick it up, or someone steps on it. Preferrably me, or someone who will notice it right away and won't track it all over the house.
Or, do I prefer the sticky kind, which is nice because it doesn't fall out of the diaper and onto the floor. It stays put on the diaper and the skin pretty well. But if it does get onto something, its stickiness is less of an asset (nope. pun absolutely ignored). It sticks to hands, socks, knees, rugs, jeans, toys, books, couches, and pillows.
It's just such a tough choice. Both kinds have their good points.
Can't wait to come over, can you? I clean the floors and rugs regularly. Lysol is my friend. Come on by for visit. Sit on the couch, hang out with me for awhile. Just don't walk by the garbage can on your way in.
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