Sick Day

The kids are sick. So I’m home sick with them.

And, almost as if on cue, the monstrous cough I’d been fighting for weeks — and thought I had the better of — has resurfaced. I’m sure it’s unrelated. Couldn’t be my stress over the state of the country or anything like that.

Eh, we’re not going there.

It’s weird. Teaching is one of the few professions where it’s almost more stressful to take a sick day than it is to just suck it up and go to work: upon your return, you’re almost certain to have behavioral issues to sort out, extra work to grade, a day to make up in your lesson pacing. Not to mention the sense — foolish as you know it is — that things are surely going to sharknado without you there.

Add to that I’m in my first year in my new job. I’m definitely in the not wanting to screw anything up boat. So taking a last-minute day off makes me feel a bit like I’m letting people down.

So around 10 last night, when my kid woke up with some pretty horrific, uh, bodily functions, and it became clear I was gonna have to take the day, I started stressing out. Got him sorted out, stopped him crying, and got him back into bed. Ran downstairs to chuck his clothes in the laundry (for the second time in four hours). Then I went to work. Fired up the laptop to e-mail supervisors. Whacked together some activities to e-mail to the sub. Started worrying about what was going to happen while I wasn’t at work. Struggled going to sleep.

Then I realized my priorities were all fargo’d. My kid is sick — in discomfort and upset in addition to oozing from his orifices (orifici?) — and I’m getting my knickers in a twist over my job, over my students — many of whom will be only too happy for me to miss a day!

And with that, I let it go, and I slept like a baby.

Frankly, the day off couldn’t come at a better time. I got to hang around the heezy, watch some movies with the kids (both of them somehow really dig the new Ghostbusters, which is fine by me), read ’em some books, snuggle them on the couch. All of which is a very welcome respite from where my mind has been for the past week.

Didn’t actually get much done that was productive or helpful around the house. Only managed to type this up while the kids were napping. (Here, the savvy reader might interject: couldn’t you have done some housework instead? Some dishes, a little vacuuming, a much-needed dusting? To which I respond: this was a sick day, dammit. That would be missing the point.)

But that’s fine. All of that is just fine. Despite the gummy gunk collecting in my lungs, I am breathing easier than I have in a while.

All the same, let’s hope sprout #2 doesn’t come down with the same thing sprout #1 had. You can only do so much laundry in a day.


The Seeker of Approval

“Are you proud of me today?”

My son was sitting on the toilet, pants around his ankles, hands bracing the sides — the classic pooping toddler pose. I was leaning against the sink, thinking about whatever it is parents think about when they are trying not to think about the fact that they have to be present while their kids are pooping. Probably penguins. (It’s usually penguins.) You can’t look straight at the kid, that makes him nervous. You can’t wander out of the room, he gets upset. You just have to be present and sort of stare into the bathtub for a few minutes.

“What’s that, buddy?”

“Daddy, are you proud of me today?”

I’ll confess that I don’t put a whole lot of planning into the words I use around my kids, outside of course of trying to stay away from the Sharknados and Mother Truckers that inadvertently bubble to the surface when they, for example, dump entire boxes of cereal on the floor, or throw freshly laundered running shoes into toilets. I mentally replay the conversations I’ve had with the boy in recent months. Surely I’ve told him I was proud of him a few times, but never made a big deal out of it. Oh, you counted to ten. I’m so proud of you!

But here he is, mid-deuce, asking me if I’m proud of him.

“I’m proud of you every day, sprout.”

“Well, are you proud of me TODAY?”

He has this funny way of asking a question where he sort of smiles but forgets to turn his mouth up at the corners. Just bares his teeth at me. It’s adorable but unsettling. He leans his head to the side a little when he does it, sort of like a Cheshire Cat that fails to vanish.

“Sprout, I’m always proud of you.”

“Today, daddy?”

“Yes, of course, I’m proud of you today.”


That seemed to satisfy him. He focused on the task at hand for a moment, a tiny vein popping out in his tiny forehead as he strained.

“I can’t go poop, daddy.”

“That’s okay, sprout. Sometimes you just can’t. We’ll try again later.”

“Okay. Daddy?”

He thinks, I think, that if he doesn’t address me every time he speaks to me, I’ll forget he’s speaking to me. I’d be willing to wager that he says “daddy” over five hundred times a day. Easily 50% or better of his daily lexicon.


“Are you still proud of me?”

“Buddy, I will always be proud of you, all the time. No matter what.”

I held up my hand for a high-five and he gleefully obliged, and we went downstairs. He wanted to complete a puzzle for the fifth time of the evening. Sure, kid. No problem.

If only we could all ask so guilelessly for approval for such small accomplishments.

The Deuce Horizon (Where did my life go wrong?)

I sat down tonight to write a blarg, and all I could think about was poop.

Not my poop. Let’s get that right. Baby poop, cat poop, dog poop… I’m inundated by Poops Which Are Not Mine, and inevitably, regrettably, it oozes over (ew) to my recreational writing. And as I sat here, pondering the poop I was trying hard not to ponder, I realized that my life has taken a series of unfortunate turns to bring me to this point.

To be clear, that point would be the point where I feel compelled to write entire blog posts about poop.

It wasn’t always this way. My life used to be ordinary. Go to work. Talk to some friends. Party hard on the weekend and reload on Monday, then do it again. There’s very little about poop in the cycle that used to be my life, except of course for the unmentionable one or two per day, and it certainly didn’t occupy my thoughts the way it does recently.

But then I got married. And we got some cats. And some dogs. And now we have a couple of kids. And at some point, my life changed over from never think about poop even when poop is happening to poop is the gravitational sun at the center of my universe.

Cleaning poopy diapers. Trying to get the sprout to poop on the toilet. Baby sticking her foot in the poop while I’m trying to clean the poop. Cat poop in litter boxes. Cat poop out of litter boxes. Letting the dog out to poop. Dog pooping on the carpet because we were at work all day. Cats dragging their poopy butts on the carpet. Carrying kids’ poopy diapers straight out to the curb because they’re too horrific to keep bottled up in the house.

Didn’t the Talking Heads have a song like that? This is not my beautiful life! Who knew I would hear that lyric and think only of poop.

Here’s a true statement, without embellishment: I have to deal with Poop Which Is Not Mine at least four or five times a day, which is enough, I think, to cause anybody to fixate a little bit. In short, for me: poop is a problem.

And the problem goes beyond the poop itself (which, let’s face it, is more than enough problem in its own right). Since I deal with it so much, I fixate, as I believe I may have mentioned. And that means it’s floating around in my subconscious, not unlike turds in the crapper, just waiting to back up the septic system of my brain. So I sit down to write a blarg topic, and all I can think of is crap. Literally.

There’s the second problem. Who wants to read a blarg about poop? Nobody, that’s who. To be honest, I don’t even want to be writing about the poop. Even thinking the word makes me feel icky, let alone typing it out over and over again as I’ve done tonight. Sure, I’m desensitized to it in a sense, but then it all comes bubbling back up while I’m sitting here trying not to think about it.

This is not a blarg about poop. This is not my beautiful life. I want this blarg to be a place where I write about writing and funny and quirky and interesting things that happen to me and that flit through my mind like butterflies through a fragrant meadow, but the percentage of posts about poop is really skewing the numbers around here.

And here, I’m exacerbating the problem by writing an entire post solely about poop.

If there’s a poop event horizon, I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed it by now. The poop in my life (Poop Which Is Not Mine, I hasten to add) is taking over, and I am not okay with that.

But the fact is, I don’t know if I can be saved. I have several years yet before I can stop thinking so much about these particular biological functions in my children… and let’s be honest, even when these functions are done, there will be an entirely new host of biological functions I will have to worry about.

If nothing else, I can perhaps serve as a warning.

If there’s Poop Which Is Not Yours in your life… in any capacity at all… run. Get out now, while you still can. The word “poop” appeared thirty-five times in this blog post. That’s too many for any sane person.

Search Term Bingo

If you run a website, or even a modest blarg like this one, at some point you will ask yourself the question: “who is reading this?” and maybe, “why are they reading this?” and possibly, further, “shouldn’t they be doing something productive, like culling wombats from their backyards, instead?”

WordPress, in its wisdom, hides a lot of search results — apparently google searches automatically hide the search terms that leads its users to wordpress sites, so I’ve heard (correct me if I’m wrong) — so most of the searches that lead people to my blog are redacted. However, there are some gems in there, and reading through them never fails to make me laugh. In particular, I get a lot of enema-related searches, due in no small part I’m sure to the post I made last year about giving my son an enema. (It remains one of the most frequently visited on this site, despite also being one of the shortest, and contains, sadly for visitors no doubt, very little information about the actual giving of the actual enema.) But not all of the searches are tied up in poop. Here are some of the best ones this year, so far, and I have tried to theorize about what they mean.

“he hadn’t pooped in five days” — quotes were included, not by me. Okay, so searches about enemas notwithstanding, searches even tangentially tied to poop can still land you here. Maybe I need to examine my lifestyle.

how to write a charasmatic [sic] valedictorian speech — I don’t write about it much any more, but I am still a high school English teacher, and I did write some (I feel) helpful posts about speeches. I am pretty sure I spelled all my words correctly. Charasma seems like one of those things you don’t want to exude so much as perhaps see your doctor about.

my wife is an overachiever / homemade wife overachiever — I’ve written now and then about my wife and how she’s better than me in practically every way. I am not sure what a homemade wife is, but I can only assume that the searcher has built an artificial wife out of toaster parts, and is pretty proud of himself for doing so.

occams parenting — I am pretty sure this is not a thing, but if it is, I don’t know if I want to be associated with it. Razors and children don’t usually play well together, and I do not endorse this product.

arsenal never give up — In addition to being a high school teacher, I am also the coach of a high school soccer team, and mentions of that have crept in here from time to time. I can only assume that this is somehow related to the Arsenal football team (that’s proper football, not American football), although I must recognize that it may also be about maintaining and not relinquishing your own personal arsenal of automatic, lethal, and totally necessary weapons for “home defense”. Because America.

poopy toddler story — I won’t lie, I tag all my relevant posts with “toddler poop stories” so I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. Still, the fact that somebody is out there searching for such things is firmly in the neighborhood of troubling.

parental exhaustion — yup. You have come to the right place.

jenker what does in mean — Language are no meaning. Jenker in cat. Cat only cat.

freelance exorcist — the searcher, who I can only assume has a very real problem and is looking for a very real solution without all the red tape of dealing with procuring a legitimate (lol) exorcist from the legitimate Catholic church, was probably disappointed to be directed to my blog full of drivel about toddler poop and dubious writing advice. Still, that’s more views for me.

mum and daughter strengthen bonding by pooping together — *heavy sigh* I guess the family that poops together…

Maybe it’s time to accept reality and re-write my blarg’s tagline: “your internet destination for poop: figurative, literal, and copious.”

Toddler Life, Chapter 34: Plague Vectors

In the real world, when another human being contaminates your stuff, one of three things happens:

  1. You burn the thing.
  2. You burn the other human.

Okay, it’s only two things, because in the real world, if somebody else spits, sneezes, coughs, barfs, pees, poops, or otherwise gets their fluids on your stuff then that stuff is as good as quarantined and that somebody else deserves to have their throat slit and their precious blood evacuated as they hang upside down in the walk-in freezer in your murder basement. …You don’t have a murder basement? …Yeah, me neither.

When you have a toddler, or even an infant, that rule goes out the window. And not just because if you bleed out your infant, the infant’s mother gets mad. But because something inside you, some fundamental self-preservational instinct, gets rewired. And when I say rewired, I mean ripped out of the wall and left dangling there, waiting to burn the house down.

Here are a couple of real scenarios which have actually happened within the four walls of my house in the past few months:

  • The toddler has explosive diarrhea. Like, launder-the-bedsheets and scrub-the-carpets time. I clean up the mess, shower down the boy, and then possibly forget to wash my hands before having food some time later.
  • The infant, suffering from a snuffly nose which is probably a watered-down version of what the wife and I had a week prior, gets hold of my fingers and sucks on them for a while. I pluck my fingers from the infant’s mouth and immediately use them to shovel a handful of popcorn or something into my own mouth.
  • The toddler likes to drink out of big-people cups and bottles. I have a swanky water bottle that he loves to get hold of and sip out of. Did I mention that he’s got the same snuffly nose that the infant had in the previous instance? He drinks from my bottle, visibly backwashes because that’s what toddlers do, and I forget and drink from the bottle five minutes later.
  • I’m multitasking, trying to shovel in a few bites of dinner while carrying and soothing the infant. (Your time does not belong to you when you have an infant, doubly so when you also have a toddler. You therefore do the things crucial to your existence only when you are also doing things of middling importance to the kids’ … I can’t even say happiness … I’ll say, baseline for not throwing a screaming hissy fit.) I’ve got a steaming forkful of home-cooked, perfectly seasoned spaghetti six inches from my mouth. She coughs directly onto my fork. I feel droplets of goo splatter on the backs of my fingers grasping the fork. I look at my wife, who is trying unsuccessfully to stifle spasms of body-rocking laughter. I eat the spaghetti anyway.
  • I’m carrying the toddler around, because even though he’s perfectly capable of walking and in fact running as if the devil himself were at his heels, he still likes to be carried, especially when I’m tired from a long day at work and would really rather just sit down now. So I’m carrying him and talking to my wife about my day, and without warning, he reels back and sneezes. A deep, phlegm-thick, lung-clearing sneeze. A sneeze that deserves to be captured on high-speed slow-motion camera. Right into my mouth. The plague-mist dampens the back of my throat. I clear my throat and finish telling my wife about the student who’s obstinately determined to fail my class.

The disturbing thing about the previous vignettes (and rest assured, they are not examples in isolation, but merely the most recent iterations of a horrorshow of infection and disgust in memory) is not the fact that they happened. No, the moment you become a parent, you realize that there are so many bodily fluids that are now a part of your day-to-day existence that it’s silly getting upset about their presence. The disturbing thing is that, in each of the above examples, I encountered the vehicles of infection, I allowed them into my body, and did so without blinking an eye, or in fact even considering blinking an eye.

I don’t have an explanation for this. To reiterate, if any of the above were to happen in the real world, the response would start at fisticuffs and top out at nuclear annihilation. But when it’s your kid’s snot, spit, and other varied germ transmission vectors, somehow that instinct to protect yourself just shuts down. Looks the other way. Retreats into itself and sobs quietly in the corner like a 40-year-old regressing into memories of an abusive uncle.

Which is probably a good thing, because otherwise no poor soul on this planet would survive their first month.

When you become a parent, you will be poisoned by your child at every opportunity. This is the way of things. So let it be done.