By Melissa Kutsche
I scramble to fill pitchers, water bottles, and vases with water, creating a mosaic of receptacles on the kitchen counter. In the bathroom, I give the tub a quick scrub before plugging the drain. As cold water creeps up the side of the tub, I listen for chaos to erupt from the living room, where I’ve left the circus. My son is strapped into his bouncy seat, and my two-year-old daughter is sitting next to him, poring over board books. Naked. The typhoon has hit on Day 2 of what mommy bloggers call “potty training boot camp.” Like the kitchen counter, our living room floor has also been taken over, but by blankets – knitted, fleece, lady-bug-covered, and fringed. A plastic potty sits in the middle of the blanket patchwork.
I turn off the faucet and pray we won’t have to drink the bathtub water. Back in the living room, my son, only five weeks old, has fallen asleep in his bouncy seat. When he is older and doing the two-year-old version of American Ninja Warrior around our house all day, every day, I will miss these moments of his confinement. My daughter, the one without any pants on, is now over by her play kitchen. “What are you making, sweetie?” I ask the little chef, recently promoted to big sister. This week’s specials have been treats like blueberry-tomato tea and banana-corn soup. Instead of responding to my question, she lifts up her hands and looks at them with eyes gaping and lips curling. It’s getting dark, and I squat down for a better look. It’s the classic game of “Poop or chocolate?” I lost.
I walk my daughter down the hall, holding her by her wrists. We’ve been without power for three hours now, but a trickle of water remains. We wash hands several times before I am satisfied. I dig a diaper out from the shadows of her bedroom, now dank after hours without the hum of the dehumidifier. “Sweetie…where did you poop?” If she did her business on one of the blankets I’ve laid out, we will be stuck with turd-scented laundry, as the washing machine is inoperable under current conditions. Mental notes for the next time we are potty training in a typhoon: 1. Use tarps. 2. No naked toddlers.
My daughter tells me that she left her surprise near the play kitchen, and as I walk in that direction, I find a poop kernel on the hallway carpet. The brown carpet and fading daylight make the scavenger hunt even more exciting. I don’t need more suspense in my life, and I decide to wise up. In the storage closet, I dig through our camping gear, muttering several words worthy of quarters in the swear jar. I find what I’m looking for and strap it on my head. Armed with bleach wipes and a plastic bag, I traverse the carpet one toe-length at a time, hoping my eyes find the target before my foot. My children are both watching me with saucer eyes, not so much drawn to to my crazed-mother-in-a-typhoon-chic as they are to the beam of the headlamp. I sweep the light across the carpet, looking for more toddler scat. There it is, a big pile of crap, right where she said it would be. Hooray for smart kids! I use half a canister of bleach wipes to scoop up the mess and toss it into a plastic bag. I will remember to toss it in the dumpster before we are evacuated from our flooded apartment building in the morning.
I am sticky with sweat thanks to half a day with no air conditioning, but I’ve missed my chance for a shower, as the trickle of water is no more. I let my daughter wear the headlamp, and we play with flashlights in the dark for a bit before eating a candlelit dinner of dry cereal, crackers, and tuna from the emergency kit. I look at my daughter’s diaper-clad bum and sigh with relief. Hooray for smart parents! I utter another prayer…Please, Lord, no newborn blowouts tonight. My phone is about to die, and I won’t be able to charge it until we get to our contingency housing the next afternoon. I send one last text to my husband, who is working a night shift at the local hospital. “Typhoon Mindulle can’t scare me. I just survived Poopageddon.”
Melissa Kutsche is a native Michigander currently living in Northern Virginia. She is a former educator and now stays home with her two young children. Melissa’s writing has been published by Mothers Always Write, Walloon Writers Review, and The Sunlight Press.