Traumatizing…that is how I would describe “The Incident” as I have officially named it.

For the entire year that my son was 2, he would paint with his poop. Forget coffee, forget taking a shower, forget hitting the snooze for five more minutes. I couldn’t risk it. If that little booger woke up on his own in the mornings, I knew my day would be spent scrubbing walls and bleaching toys. Nap times were like a horrible game of diaper roulette. But all in all, that was just gross, not traumatizing.

There was the time when my daughter decided she was too big to have mommy go in the stall with her, and then proceeded to exclaim loudly how things were coming along as I stood outside and held the door for her. Much to the delight and giggles of the ladies who were waiting in line to use the facilities. That was funny. I still chuckle about that one. No trauma there.

Public decrees on the fascinating world of bodily functions, emergency stops on the side of the road, or the fact that my car has an ever present slight smell of pee coming from the various booster seats. None of that makes me cringe. None of this is therapy inducing. It’s all a pretty normal, albeit gross, part of raising small children.

However, the incident…THE incident. It shall go down in parenting infamy.

My son and I were along for the fun at an amusement park with a group from our church. We had been having a wonderful time, and the day was starting to wind down. We were waiting in line for a refill of our pork rinds. My son was sort of milling about off to the side, looking at rocks and such on the ground. Then I heard some amount of commotion and one of the other moms walked him over to me. He had a look of panic on his face. “He has to use the bathroom,” She kindly, but urgently, informed me with a knowing smirk. “I think it’s serious.” (Solidarity sista!)

I could tell by the look on his face we didn’t have much time. Our day of roller coasters, powerade and unlimited refills of pork rinds had finally caught up with him. I asked to be pointed to the nearest bathroom and we walked as fast as we could. After all, you can’t run in these situations.

My son, nearly 8, was a little too old to be going in to the women’s bathroom, but I hadn’t thought to grab one of the guys in our group to take him, and I didn’t feel comfortable sending him in alone in a crowded public bathroom, especially in his desperate state. So in to the ladies we went. And glory be, there was a stall free the moment we walked in.

We shuffled in, and locked the door. Whew…we made it! He proceeded to sit down and do his business, and I turned around to give him some privacy. But that one little motion, the act of sitting down… Did I say we made it? I think I should correct that and say we BARELY made it. He wasn’t quite all the way on the seat when he bent to sit down, and out came the most perfectly round little ball of poo I have ever seen. As a mom of three, I’ve seen a lot of poo. I’ve never really admired it before. I mean, it’s poo. But this one was certainly unique in its impersonation of a malted milk ball.

It fell to the floor and rolled. Oh Lord help me, it rolled. It rolled right by my feet and kept going. I kept thinking it would stop. It didn’t. It just kept rolling like a possessed milk dud determined to see the sites before it’s demise. It rolled under the wall, and came to rest in front of a pair of tennis shoes in the stall next door.

“Maybe they won’t see it,” I thought. My son and I exchanged a quick glance, then looked back at the shoes. They were moving, the person was getting up. “Please don’t step on it. Please don’t step on it. Please don’t step on it.” I repeated this mantra over and over in my head.

They stood up, turned, and paused. Oh horrors, they paused!! Those shoes were facing that little chocolate ball and they weren’t moving. They saw it! They saw it, and they were looking at it! No, they were STARING at it!

Why are they staring at it? What is so fascinating about a little ball of poo? Should I say something? No, that would just be more awkward. Oh good golly, they aren’t leaving. Why aren’t they leaving?!

I grabbed a length of toilet paper, reached under the stall and snatched the little abomination from between their toes. If there was any chance they hadn’t seen it, they certainly saw a hand reaching in and taking it away. And still those shoes just stayed there!! Facing toward our stall in quiet condemnation. That’s it, we would have to kill those shoes! They had seen too much.

Four days later…okay, okay, maybe more like four seconds later, our neighbor turned and left their stall.  By this time my son was done with his business, and was standing next to me. He looked at me, not sure what to do, or what to say.

“Let’s stay here until they leave,” I said. He gave a sigh of relief and nodded in agreement. We waited. We waiting way longer than was necessary. It wasn’t enough to give them time to wash their hands and leave. We wanted to leave no hope of them figuring out who was in the stall next to them.

We waited until we figured they were in line for their next ride, and all thoughts of traveling poo gone from their minds. We exited our stall, washed our hands, and left with out saying a word. We never spoke of “The Incident” to each other again.

To the person who owns those condescending shoes, I hope your moment of complete silence was due to being as dumbfounded as I was in the moment. I mean, what is proper protocol in that situation?  I am certain that no amount of words could take back the trauma you had going on in your own stall. I certainly wasn’t going to say anything at the time and risk giving away some hint of my identity. But I have learned to live with this very embarrassing moment, and if I could go back and say something to you, it would be this:

“Don’t eat that. It’s not chocolate.”