I took a bath with baby. She pooped in the tub.

I was bathing with my one-year-old when she grunted a
little, her face went red, and it happened. She pooped. Then she gave me a two
teeth, gummy smile, and said, “Bah…”
I was home alone with Aspen. My wife, Mel, and our two older
children were at a church activity. They had been there later than expected, so
to save time, I just hopped in the tub with Aspen.
The little brown poop floated to the surface, and rolled
over. I looked at it for a moment, not sure just what to do. Sadly, this was
not the first time a baby had pooped while I was in the tub. Every time I get
in the tub with one of my young children I know there is a 40% chance that poop
will happen. But every time it does happen, I am always surprised.
I froze, weighted with thoughts and questions: should I leap
out? Is there poop on me? Can poop bacteria travel through water? If I don’t
touch it, will I still be clean? Why is the baby so happy about this? Why
haven’t I gotten out yet?
And as I thought, Aspen turned around and reached for the
turd. She got half a grip on it, breaking it into smaller pieces. Then she
reached for her mouth, and I caught her hand.
Everything goes in a baby’s mouth.
I tugged her out by wrapping my left arm around her waist,
and held her poopy hand with my right. I took her to the sink, and washed her
We were both freckled with baby poop. I could feel it. This
was not the worst kind of poop. It was somewhere between adult poop, and small
animal poop, never the less, it was still poop. As a parent, I’ve learned a lot
about poop. In some ways I feel like a poop expert. And yet I couldn’t quite
figure out just what to do in this situation. Last time I was in the tub and a
baby pooped, Mel was home to help.
But now I was alone.
Very alone.
I set Aspen down and shut the bathroom door. Then I drained
the tub. Baby poop spotted the tub, and the tub liner, and the baby toys. I
wanted to just light the tub on fire and start over. It seemed like it might be
easier, and more sanitary. But I couldn’t, so I turned the shower on high and
hot, and started working the poop down the drain. I had to use my hand once to
force a large chunk down, and as I touched it, felt it’s texture, I thought
about how this is not what I signed on for. No one ever told me that I’d be
forcing poop down a bath drain before I became a father. If they had, I assume
it would have been a deal breaker.
I was so focused on the task at hand, my own misery, that I
didn’t notice that while my back was turned Aspen had gotten a hold of the
plunger and was now chewing on the rubbery business end. And when I spotted
her, she laughed at me. A sweet baby laugh that seemed to say, “You weren’t
paying attention, so I did this to myself. You suck as a dad.”
I took the plunger away and said “Yuck,” and “Gross” in
hopes that she would understand that what she did was nasty and never do it
again. But I don’t think she got that message. Instead she just smiled, and
then crawled to me and hugged me, and all I could think about was how she’d
just had a plunger in her mouth, and she was wet with poop water. I didn’t want
to hold her. I wanted to soak our bodies in bleach. I wanted everything to be
clean and bacteria free. But I couldn’t do that just then, so I picked her up,
looked in her blue eyes, and said, “You are the nastiest baby I know.”
She didn’t laugh, or cry, or look offended. She stuck her
hand in my mouth. The same hand that touched the turd. The same hand that just touched
the plunger. I spit her out, and gagged. I put Aspen down again and used some
cleaner on the tub and the toys. I kept a closer eye on her this time.
Then I filled the tub again, we both got in, and I lathered
us both with soap. And as I did, she giggled and cooed, and by the time I got
out, I didn’t think about all the nattiness we’d just gone through. I didn’t
even feel gross anymore. I had, for the most part, put it behind me. By the
next day, I felt confident that I wouldn’t even think about it.
I wondered why I wasn’t angry. I was frustrated and grossed
out when it all happened, but I never got angry. I thought about how, if anyone
else in the world pooped in my tub while I was in it, made me clean it out, and
then stuck a poop hand in my mouth, I’d have them killed. But with Aspen, my
daughter, I put it all behind me within moments.
This is the real power of children.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife,
a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play
dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood,
he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His
essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The
Huffington Post
, Scary
, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in
Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Photo by Lucinda Higley

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