On Wednesdays, my two big kids go to “school” for a few hours. I try to have special time with my littles, and that frequently involves a stop to hang out somewhere while the traffic back into the city dies down. We didn’t have a plan for our morning, so I made the snap decision to eat a second breakfast at Waffle House! I was excited; Levi thought it was weird and tried to stay in the car, Ingrate. We had a decent breakfast and went to the library. We found some fun books, chatted with a cute toddler; it was very sweet. I began packing up the library bag to carry to the self-checkout (too many fines to go to the checkout with a real person. Better to have self-checkout anonymity) I felt a rumbling. The oh no, I am in a municipal building rumbling. Oh, man. Oh, man. I felt okay about leaving kid number three in the children’s section while I went number two, but the little one needed to come with me. I told Levi my plan, scooped up Jo and headed to the bathroom to do the thing we all hate. As I walked through the door, things getting pretty serious, I realize that Jo has taken off her plastic heels while reading, and is barefoot. There is NO WAY I am going to let this child stand barefoot in the bathroom, and there is NO WAY I have the time to go and find the shoes and come back to…you know. So, the poor shoeless child was forced to sit in my lap. We both lost a chunk of our dignity that day. Her remarks were priceless and will remain a private joke. We flush (truly a “we” at this point) and started washing our hands. A mom that I remember from last year’s little league team enters with her son; Jo looks her square in the face and announces, “Mommy pugusting” (her word for disgusting). I smile politely, and go back into the library. We check out and drive home.
We are playing in the backyard because some of my favorite people on the planet (dubbed by “the moms”) are inside cleaning our house. Hired-out house cleaning is my most favorite luxury—the very closest you can come to buying happiness. I had to come inside, (that’s another long story) and I hear a knock on the back door. Levi wears a guilty and nervous look. “Mommy. There is poop in my undies.” Oh, man. Oh, man. There is a crew of folks cleaning our house right now. How does this work?! Yet again, poop puts me in code brown, emergency decision-making mode. With uncharacteristic kindness, I usher Levi upstairs to get cleaned up. I know exactly how his stomach was feeling while he tried to hold it in the backyard. I leave him in the sparkling clean bathroom while I go to grab some clean underwear. I come back, crack the door, and ask if he needs help. He grabs the undies, and quickly tells me to leave. I wait outside the door and hear a flush. Levi comes out looking relieved. I peer over his shoulder and see a churning toilet. I think okay, maybe the waters are about to recede, I have dodged this bullet before. Oh, man. Oh, man. I think that water is about to crest the lower rim of the toilet seat. “Wait here, Levi, I need to grab the plunger.” I guess I thought he should watch the toilet?! I run downstairs to the laundry room. I know about how important it is to keep emergency items in logical locations. I also know my children cannot control themselves with the plunger. They touch each other with it, try to suction it to our plaster walls, ride it like a horse, etc. So, I have some history with the plunger. I run down to the laundry room and pull out the hidden plunger. I remove the Kroger bag that is tied around the nasty end. I run past people vacuuming and dusting and thrust the plunger into the swirling, gurgling mess. Nothing. I try again. There is an awkward and unexpected splash. I pull the plunger out and see that it is completely flat because the red rubber plunger is dry rotted. I am no physicist, or whatever discipline suction falls under, but you are not going to make turd-clearing suction with a flat plunger. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. By this time, the water is sloshing onto the clean floor and the clean bathroom rug. Levi is profusely apologizing in a way that is neither endearing nor helpful. I yell to him to go and get daddy who is “working from home” in our basement. A picture of our basement inserted here would get a big laugh. It is no office.
Riley stopped his accounting work, ran up the stairs, and got down to business. He plunged, pulled the pancake plunger out, manually flipped it back into shape, and plunged again until the toilet was free and clear.
Toys and toilets break; the toys become trash and toilets flow up instead of down. I had just what I needed to fix this mess, and I knew exactly where it was. And still the shit hit the floor. While things were overflowing, I wanted to think it was funny. The REAL me would think this was hilarious. But the real REAL me was on the verge of tears, totally defeated and exhausted by the day’s drama. Riley washed his hands, scooped up the kids, and let me be alone. I needed him. I needed saving not fixing.