Last Saturday night, my husband and I were curled up in front of the fire, about to watch Vince Vaughn in "Couples Retreat." We'd been looking forward to it for months, ever since we kept missing it in the theater. (Every time we had the babysitter booked, someone got sick. Swine flu, seasonal flu, sinus infection, pneumonia, yeah, you name it, my kids got it.) So when it came out on DVD, we were ready to laugh our asses off. (Ever seen him in "Wedding Crashers"? Rent it. But make sure to pee first. You know what happens when you laugh too hard after popping out a few kids. I'm just sayin'.)
So in the movie, Vince Vaughn's character and his wife are in a home improvement store, looking at tiles for their remodel. Now, most husbands hate that kind of thing and are happy for any reason to walk away from looking at 3,492 different options - most of which look identical to them - and Vince's character is no exception. So while he's on his cell phone talking to his buddy, he's not really watching what his kid is doing - probably assuming that his wife is on kid-duty. Suddenly, the camera pans to the boy, who is peeing in a display toilet as customers and sales people look on in horror. Vince shouts, "That's not a real toilet!" to his son. Then he gets off the phone, picks up his kid, and says, "There's not really anything more to say," and walks away. No embarrassment, no wiping up the pee, no apologizing to the manager.
Yeah, that's the Hollywood version.
In REAL life, in MY life, I'd find myself with a makeshift glove made from wads of generic paper towel wrapped around my hand, scooping "I've eaten nothing but fruit all day" type poop out of the display toilet. In REAL life, when my 3-year-old was playing in the design center's kids' area when she told me she had to poop, I told her to put on her shoes - and then, distracted by my Level 5 flooring options, promptly forgot about her "needs". So a few moments later, when I heard, "Mommy? I can't find any toilet paper!" I knew EXACTLY what had happened. And so did my husband. In one of those "are you thinking what I'm thinking" husband and wife moments, we looked at each other in horror, shock, disgust. And mentally calculated who'd have clean-up duty.
Thankfully, our real estate agent, the designer, and the sales manager did NOT realize that the Ecru/Low Flow/Elongated Bowl Display Model was now completely full of crap. Literally. No, in REAL life, the kid doesn't merely pee into the model toilet. She poops, and poops, and poops. And it's after hours, so the deserted design center is also completely without its custodial staff. Nope, just us and our helpful real estate professionals, ready to sell us $40,000 in upgrades but unable to locate a little bit of bleach and some rubber gloves.
Yes, in a bizarre twist of "Art Imitating Life", I found myself flashing back to that May day several years ago. (I should get a cut of the movie's profits! If only I'd written about this and then claimed Hollywood stole it from me!) There I was again, crouched in front of a fake toilet, paper towels wrapped carefully (but ineffectively) around my entire hand, shoving my manicured fingers into the toilet to clean it out. (Truly, you have no IDEA how long that pipe from the bowl to the tank is. Truly. Thank God I have long hands.) It took about an hour, two rolls of paper towels, and all the Purell wipes I had in my car and my purse - but that toilet was cleaner than it was on the day it was installed. It shined like the top of the proverbial Chrysler Building. There was no evidence at all that we'd ever been there. We apologized, washed our hands, and got the hell out of Dodge. (And we DID buy a house from them, Level 5 upgrades and all. Heck, it was the least we could do.)
Slacker Mom Says... motherhood isn't always kisses and pretty Hallmark cards and sweet-smelling baby powder. Sometimes it's a dirty job, and sometimes you get the short end of the stick. Sometimes our kids ruin things that aren't theirs and we have to take care of it. Because that's what we do. We take responsibility for our young children and their actions, even when they poop where they shouldn't. Even when it's going to be disgusting. Even when we know it will take approximately 825 gallons of scented soap to take the smell out of our hands. We take responsibility. We take care of it. Because what's the alternative? Walk away from the situation? No, that only happens in the movies. In real life, parents have to teach by example. What would I have taught my daughters if I'd walked away from the mess? My toddler was too young to take responsibility for it, and it was my fault for putting her off so long. It was my job to take care of the situation, no matter how unpleasant or truly vomit-inducing it was. And my kids saw me do just that. Our society is plagued by a severe lack of personal responsibility. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. Caring for our kids, teaching them to take responsibility for their mistakes, to own up to what they did, to make it right and to apologize for inconveniencing others, that's our job. We're moms.
Besides, now I have a really fun story to tell at her prom, or graduation, or rehearsal dinner...