Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guest Post Extraordinaire

OK, since it looks like Karen’s throwing me under the bus with her latest post, I don’t think I have any other option than to tell the whole story of Shitstorm 2008.  I think Hurricane Shit is better, but given the Gulf tragedies, I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare what I dealt with yesterday to the agencies cleaning up in Texas.  That said, after reading this, you may disagree.

First off, there are no pictures, so imagination will be necessary.  Whether or not there should have been pictures is an interesting discussion.  I tend to think that pictures enhance the storytelling, but here, they may have been a bit over the top.

Perspective is always good, so let me lay out what the typical afternoon naptime routine is.  On Wednesdays, P. (the two-year-old) usually goes to a Mom’s Morning Out at our church until 1 PM.  I try to get in at least two hours of work while she’s there as well as catch up on sleep.  I pick her up, bring her home, and immediately start moving toward naptime.  Any delay pushes start time past 2 PM which is kind of her naptime event horizon.  Plus, if I get her down quickly, it has the added bonus of me getting in an extra hour of work in the afternoon before E. (the five-year-old) gets home at 3:30.

That was the plan yesterday.  I had her home and after cleaning out her lunch bag and such, we were in her room reading books by 1:15.  She wears underwear to MMO because (KEY POINT) she is 85% potty trained.  So, every day before her nap, we change into “bedtime clothes”, which involves a total wardrobe overhaul and (KEY POINT) change into a diaper in case she has an accident.  She also (KEY POINT) goes to the bathroom to clean the system out before we put on the diaper.  So, she is clothed, diapered, and ready to take a nap.  Time is 1:30.

At this point, I usually head back to the kitchen or TV room (where my computer is) on the other side of the house and eat lunch while I wait for P. to fall asleep.  This is like a 15-20 minute exercise and she usually falls asleep during this time.  Occasionally, she’ll still be fussing or asking for something, so I’ll go in and tell her to lay down, time for a nap, etc., and reset the process.  Wednesday, there was no noise coming from the room, so I do what I always do and check on her visually to make sure she’s out.  On this occasion, she was clearly still awake; however, she was lying down, sucking her thumb, and quiet.  Obviously, I’m not going in there and interrupting this and I assume, like 95+% of the other times she does this, she’s within minutes of being out.  So, I start prepping to work by going to the bathroom, getting water, etc.

Side note: I think all regular blog readers here know what I do for a living.  It’s a perfectly legitimate career that has supported us for two years, but I can think of many people that Karen knows who would disapprove.  That’s not the point of this blog, though, and it only pertains to the story in that when I work, I need to have an hour of uninterrupted concentration.  This is why I do the bulk of my work after the kids go to bed and usually stay up fairly late to get in hours.  If I start and am forced to quit for whatever reason before I’m done with the hour, we’re talking several hundred, occasionally thousand dollars.  I will not start unless I’m positive I will have an uninterrupted hour.  Period.

So, over the ensuing few minutes, I am moving around the house, including the kitchen, which is very close to P.’s room and hear nothing.  I don’t believe I checked on her again (possibly first mistake), but since there was strong evidence suggesting she was asleep and nothing contradicting this, I think it’s fair to say I was going to be in the clear.  When she naps and the house is quiet, it’s usually two hours minimum and sometimes as much as three.

Side Note 2:  It’s been beaten to death in the other blog, but we got a kitten in the last couple of weeks.  Prior to getting the kitten, whenever P. took a nap and I was home alone with her, I would open up all doors between myself and her so that I could hear if something was up.  As Karen can attest, I can and have heard her waking up from a nap with the TV on, so we never used the monitors with P.  The kitten likes to cause problems though, so we have to close doors to keep him from waking up P. and I have to close the door to the TV room so I won’t be attacked while working.  My right leg can attest to what that cat will do to get up on the desk.

So, at 2 PM, I sit down at the computer and start working, not to emerge until 3 PM.  Little did I know what I would come out to in an hour.  Nothing at all notable during the hour except a phone call from Karen at about 2:45, letting me know that she was heading from an afternoon out with a friend to pick up E. at school.  At about 3, I came out and opened the door to the main part of the house and the stench was bad and P. was clearly awake and crying.

My immediate thought is “where did that cat do it this time?”, a fun game we get to play about once a day with the new kitten.  I searched the main room, kitchen, and headed for the laundry room, where the cat’s litter box is as the smell intensified.  I saw many fresh droppings and covered them up because he doesn’t do a good job of that yet.  Thinking things were good, I went to the bathroom, got some more water and such before going to get P..  Normally, when she wakes up, she fusses for someone to come get her, but she’s fine.  Two year olds fuss, especially when they’re tired and just woke up.  Say whatever you want but every parent knows that they don’t always immediately rush to their crying two year olds unless there’s reason to be concerned.

All that said, what I saw when I went in to that room is nothing short of horrifying.  I’m not even sure it hit me immediately what was going on.  I certainly had to think for several seconds as to what I had to do next.  P. had no pants on and her hands and feet were covered in poop.  Every square inch of the sheet on her crib was covered in poop.  Every square inch of the railing was covered in poop.  It.  Smelled.  Awful.

Now, given this, I’m pretty pleased with how I handled it.  I’m thinking a lot of parents would freeze.  My first instinct was basically that I was going to have to contain the situation quickly and save what was salvageable.  First, deal with the child.  P. had poop on her and was very angry.  I got the shirt off, picked her up and carried her across the house to the bathtub, put her in and turned on the water, trying to get as much of the poop off her as I could.  Unfortunately, it was dried on pretty well (I suspect this had happened 30 or so minutes ago, maybe more :flogging self: ). Once I got the easiest of it off, I left her there, telling her to keep scrubbing and went back to ground zero to see what I had to do next.

Reflecting back on the scene of the crime, one thing sticks out.  There did not appear to be any solid remains.  Anywhere.  There was a definite epicenter, resembling the center of an explosion, but outside of that, all of the poop appeared to have been distributed equally on the entire crib.  I removed the sheet and the mattress pad and threw them in the washing machine.  I figured they were permanently done, but our new washing machine would later prove me wrong.  Go Frigidaire!

Now to attack the actual crib.  First thought is that this was a really big job, so I decided wet paper towels would be my starting point.  Unfortunately, they really weren’t that effective, so I ran around the house looking for a bucket, planning to fill it with a bleach/water combo.  I remembered it was outside, so I went back to check on P. who seemed fine.  Our drain is not working right, so I had to check back fairly often to make sure the tub wasn’t filling with poopwater.  I found the bucket outside with rocks that E. had been collecting, dumped it and threw it under the sink.  However, since the bathtub was running, I had no water pressure and it was taking forever, so I grabbed a plastic bag and some Clorox wipes and got back to work.

Back in the room, I noticed, interestingly, that absolutely no poop was on her diaper or pants or the numerous stuffed animals she usually keeps in her crib, but were now strewn about the room.  I still am not sure why she chose to remove her pants/diaper before doing this, but I guess I’ll never know.  I worked on it as best I could with the Clorox wipes, but they’re small and my mess was big.  After a few of these, I ran back to check on P. in time to stop the bucket from overflowing in the sink.   P. seemed pretty well cleaned at this point, so I picked her up, sprayed out the bathtub and started to refill it plus lots and lots of soap.  I plopped her back in and ran back to add some bleach to the bucket of water in the kitchen.  This plus a washcloth, which would give itself to the cause, and we were finally making some progress.  A few minutes of this, then back to P..

Now, I was well aware that Karen and E. were due home any minute, so I was really hoping something held them up at school and would give me more time.  Of course, this is the day they come straight home.  Fortunately, I was able to alert them immediately upon entering the house of what they would see.  I’ll give Karen credit.  She and poop really don’t get along well, but she was able to take it in stride and help out.  E. reacted about how you would expect a five year old to, with lots of unnecessary comments and noises about smell.

There’s really not much else to say about the cleanup.  P. was fine, as if nothing had happened.  We had the windows up, fans blowing, and cleaned every part of the crib we could, but the smell was not going away.  It was like it had bonded with the wood.  Ultimately, we took the crib apart and out to the garage where its fate will be determined at a later date.

I vacuumed the area under the crib after spraying it with carpet cleaner, but still, stink.  Next were the toys under the crib.  We pulled out every basket and inspected it with eyes and nose, throwing out what we didn’t care about anymore and washing everything else.  Still there was a stench.  Finally, P.’s books that were on the floor, but not right next to the crib.  I found a few (Karen mentioned them already) that smelled and made the executive decision to toss them.  I also encountered the largest actual piece of poop on the cover of Olivia, which was a good four feet away from the crib inside a bedside table.  To the author of Olivia: we like your book enough to have cleaned it. 

It still smelled a bit after all of this, but the kids managed to sleep in there anyway.  Karen vacuumed again this morning and we shuffled some things around.  As of right now, the smell seems to have been completely eradicated, so I think we got it all.

Ultimately, I think this was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances that led to this, but I’m still pretty sure I lose Parent Points for not making sure P. was completely asleep and not making sure that I could hear P. if she woke up.  Everything else was a series of flukes that culminated in one big, shitty mess.  After five-plus years of this, I think I’ve got pretty good parenting instincts and maybe I got a bit casual here.  

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