This is an article I wrote for The Cambridge Times nearly seven years ago when my now nearly teenaged daughter was five. It got a great response then, and it’s still funny to me now.
To Poot or not to Poot
By Nuala Reilly
Three AM. My husband and I are blissfully sleeping in our downstairs bedroom, unaware of anything amiss in the rooms above us. It is dark and quiet.
Suddenly, I have the feeling that someone is in the room. You know, that feeling that semi-wakes you with the impression that there is someone standing right by your bed watching you sleep. I didn’t want to, but I opened my eyes to have a look. I almost jumped straight out of bed when I opened my eyes and found myself looking straight into the eyes of my four-year old daughter.
“Holy Cow!” I yelp, and she immediately started to cry. I pick her up and parked her on my lap.
“I’m sorry, sweetie, you scared me. Is something wrong? Why are you out of bed?” I asked her in my best no-I-don’t-need-sleep-mommy voice. She is sobbing now.
Let me explain, my daughter can be hard to understand at the best of times. She is developmentally challenged when it comes to speech, and so K sounds and S sounds and F sounds, all of the challenging ones for toddlers are still a bit of a problem for her. Compound this with the wee hours of the morning and a crying issue, and she might as well have been speaking her own language.
“Mommy, I poot in my bed” she said, and began to cry even harder.
“You pooed in your bed?” I asked. I am surprised to hear this; she hasn’t had an “accident” in almost two whole years. She was a great potty trainer, going straight from pull-ups to underwear effortlessly. A smarter parent would have, at this point, gone straight to the source of the room to investigate. But nay, I am contented to stay in my bed and argue with a hysterical child and a now grudgingly awake husband, to get to the root of the “poot”.
“No mommy, not pooed, poot.” She is still crying
“ I don’t know what that means, sweetie” I say to her, only slightly frustrated. “I need for you to settle down with me and talk slower so that I can help you.”
“What’s the matter?” asks a husky voice from somewhere under the blanket beside me.
“What in the heck is a poot?” I whisper frantically to him.
“No idea” he mumbles back.
“Dearest, I don’t know what a poot is. Are you sure you haven’t pooed in your bed?”
“No. NO! No poo, poot!”
I am drained. I can’t understand my own child when she is in need of my help. I watch her as she takes a good deep breath to calm down and try again.
“ Mommy, you need to go get the poot.” She is starting to calm down a little. I look at her beautiful, teary face. And then it hits me. Her breath. I have to try really hard not to gag.
“Honey” I say quietly to the lump under the blanket beside me.
“ I need you to get up and calm her down. I think she puked in her bed.”
Her little face suddenly lights up with the realization that I have finally understood her.
“Yes, yes, I poot in my bed!”
Now that we have that sorted out, the next half hour is spent with us running up and down stairs, changing blankets and pillow cases and doing all of the things that a seasoned parent now takes as second nature at three am with any kind of bodily mishap. We change her pajamas, and rinse her mouth and tuck her back into bed.
Days later, my neighbor and I are having a coffee while our kids play together on the floor of my living room. We are laughing over their various idiosyncrasies and basically enjoying a moment of ‘we are not alone, all parents go through this stuff’. It’s refreshing.
We can hear our two daughters in the living room cooing over the baby, who is sitting buckled happily in his bouncy chair.
“Oh-oh” my daughter says, “ he poot”
My neighbors’ puzzled face is compounded by my hysterical laughter when she turns to me and asks:
“What’s a poot?”