By this morning Trish has told me about the hat and how Ella needs to poop into it. It’s like the one this guy’s wearing on his head (get well, John!). Or, she can poop into a diaper — which she hasn’t done in weeks or months — and we can take that into the doc, so they can tell us what kind of protozoan calls our daughter home.

One of the best things about this week has been softly dozing, waiting for Ella to wake up — except for yesterday, when I had to take our Passat to the deal AGAIN. This morning, about 7:40, I heard Ella’s door slam. That’s what she does, she walks out of her room, slams the door, walks into our room and slams our door, just to be sure she’s jolted us awake, or maybe she’s sending her parents a signal to break from the mad passionate love we don’t have time to make.

Finally, she walks into our room and I scoop her up — she and her soaking-wet PJs, and Purple Baby. Pee. She’d probably been peeing all that while. Walking and peeing.

I’m clean, but I’m wearing a t-shirt instead of a work shirt in case Ella flings banana on me. I hadn’t anticipated pee.

It’s 7:45, 45 minutes until Elizabeth arrives and I have to leave for work.

I plop Ella down onto her toilet so she can pee some more.

I turn around to go get a diaper, in case she wants to poop, then I can take the specimen to the doc’s, and she starts pooping. Man! The opportunity’s lost!

Just in case, though, I put the diaper on her and set her down. “Can you poop some more?” I ask. I’m pleading. “Yes, Daddy.”

No poop.

It’s after 8 now. I’ve managed to strip Ella’s bed and start washing her sheets. I’ve stripped her and have given up on poop. I clean her up, dress her and then I start dressing myself.

I gave Elizabeth the rundown — if Ella can anticipate her poop, Elizabeth can put a diaper on Ella, Ella can poop in the diaper, then they can bring the diaper when I meet them at my office and I’ll take the poop to the doctor.

And in the meantime global famine will end, the polar ice caps will grow and all the kudzu in the Southeast US will shrivel and die.

I can tell I’m asking too much. Not of Elizabeth. Not of Ella. Of nature.

Finally, I’m dressed and headed out the door. I get five miles down the road and realize … I changed shirts, but I didn’t clean off my chest where Ella’s pee had soaked through my t-shirt.

I find a package of wipes, but they’re all dried out, so I take one and open my shirt and rub it all over my chest. It’s like a dryer sheet. I figure it can’t hurt, and maybe I’d smell fresh.

Nobody said anything to me at work.

Elizabeth brought Ella to my office on her way to another job, and on the way home I stopped back into the doc’s to get the hat. “Why you want to get hat for me?”

We got home, start eating a snack and Ella grabs her belly. Poop! I scoop her up, pull the hat out of the bag, throw the hat on the toilet and set Ella down.

“Can I pee in it?”

Beats me. So I pick Ella up, slide out the hat, set Ella back down and she pees. Then I pick her up, slide the hat back and cross my fingers.

Gas. No poop. Foiled again.

Oh, Elizabeth took Ella to art class, where Ella made a cool frog, and to the soda shop in our quaint little hamlet. Our daughter does not miss us when we’re away.

I just wish she’d poop in the hat!