When she walked out of the house without a diaper on, I knew what had happened.

I had my suspicions even before then, when Trish came outside and left Ella inside to finish a nap.

A kid, left alone, with her regular schedule … it was bound to happen.

A rough recreation of events: It was Sunday afternoon, sunny and warm, and I was slaving away in the backyard. Trish had taken Ella inside for a nap, and about an hour later Trish emerged, sans daughter.

That sent a queasy feeling to my stomach.

Several minutes went by without incident, then as I was making my way around the corner with yet another wheelbarrow full of mulch, I heard Trish say, “honey, put your shoes on. The mulch will hurt your feet.”

I knew she wasn’t talking to me. That left two possible scenarios: Trish had been in the sun too long or she was talking to Ella.

Sure enough, there was my little girl, stepping off the deck onto the fresh new path. No shoes. And, cottage-cheese butt. No diaper.

I don’t know when she removed her diaper. Perhaps we’ll never know that little detail.

When I inquired as to the whereabouts of the undergarment, Trish, who hadn’t caught a full glimpse of her daughter, stopped what she was doing; the queasy feeling had suddenly stricken her as well.

Ella was very helpful. “Ummmm,” she started, and she put her hands to her mouth and wrinkled her brow, to signal deep reflection. “Ummmm. It’s inside.”

“Inside where?”

“Inside … the house,” the last word lilting, as in, “you silly old fool, where else would it be?”

“Ah. Inside the house where? On your bed?”

“No. In the garbage.”

“Oh, OK. Thank you.”

I think it’s important to illustrate courtesy and calm in the face of a natural disaster. I do what I can.

By this time Trish was in action. She picked Ella up and went inside.

Why didn’t I go inside?

Because I’m a man. Which means that I take advantage of every opportunity to weasel out of confrontations with poop. I am of the weaker sex. Isn’t this obvious? Have you ever heard the term, “weasley no-good … wife?” or “… mother?” No. Never. But “weasely no-good husband,” or “…man,” yes. Perfect.

I stayed outside. For many, many long minutes. Finally, I poked my head inside the back door and toss in an tentative question, “Where was it?”

“You don’t want to know,” came a voice from upstairs. Then I heard, “No, no, we need to finish cleaning the carpet,” and various other utterances of frustration.

Being a weasel, this meant it was time for me to shut the door and run away.

This was the third loss-of-bodily-function episode in a a week. (On Saturday Ella peed on our bed during a routine diaper change.) But it wasn’t the last on Sunday. Shortly after dinner, Ella’s stomach and colon revolted against something foreign and expelled poop before it had a chance to firmly establish itself. We caught Ella before she completely removed her Pull-Up. Correction: Trish caught Ella; I overheard, “we don’t take this off outside, honey!” And since I knew she wasn’t talking to me this time either, I accurately deduced that she was confronting out daughter. To my credit, I helped. I held Ella while Trish removed the offensive Pull-Up.

And, later that night, before bedtime, Trish sat Ella on the bathroom counter, turned around, and heard the soft plinkety-plink trickle of urine hitting the tile.

I know I put my foot in my mouth the other day when I suggested I would find out why toddlers don’t gain bladder and bowel control at or near the same time they learn to, say, use a cell phone or lock their mothers out of their cars. I didn’t mean to imply that this was problematic, it’s just an example of my odd sense of curiosity.

So far, the best info I can find is here at Wondertime. It gives no explanation, really, except that by age 4 most kids know how to use the bathroom. It also advises more than once to allow a child to watch other members of the family use the toilet. I did this on Sunday morning, even though I’m very modest and I’m not sure when my daughter will start being scarred for life by seeing me in a certain repose. Regardless, I tried to make the most of the situation, showing my great pleasure and comfort in the process, as if to say, “see? You, too, can enjoy a fulfilling poop on the toilet,” like an add for a cruise line.

Obviously, it didn’t work. Not yet, anyway.

Late last night, after Ella was in bed, I broached the afternoon’s experience again.

“Where was it?” I asked.

Trish recreated the events: Ella awoke to the tune of her gut needing to empty itself. Since neither of her parents were handy, she went to the bathroom herself. Apparently, she stopped in the doorway and considered that far enough, or maybe she just couldn’t hold it any longer. That’s where the evacuation took place, on the threshold, between carpeted hallway and tiled floor.

Again, it’s not clear when or where she removed her diaper, but it was certainly before she reached the toilet. She did, however, try to complete the process. There were otherwise clean diapers in the trash can. The kid had, Trish surmised (and I’m not sure I want to know how) gone back to her bedroom several times for fresh diapers with which to clean herself.

Understandable. Perfectly understandable.

Basketball street rules say no blood, no foul. It could be the same with toilet training. No permanent effects of poop on floors or walls, no harm done.

Especially as long as I stay outside when the poop hits the floor.

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