Grumpy about iFart

Jesse had a tough morning at her new dentist yesterday. They did a full cleaning, took x-rays, painted sealants on her molars (don’t start in on me about toxicity and all that — rotten teeth are toxic too, and she was born with ’em, so we’re in a balancing act here), took out an ineffective space-maintaining appliance (hence new dentist) between some missing molars, and did a mold on her upper teeth (which took two tries, ugh) for  a new orthodontic contraption that will hypothetically work better.

Jesse handled it like a Marine — tough and pretty grim, but also polite and compliant. Afterwards, she was spent. I gave her my iPhone as I drove her to school. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw her staring blankly at the phone as she tapped away. A few seconds later, I started hearing her iFart remix.

In case you’re one of the rare people who don’t yet know what iFart is, I hope you can guess from the name. It’s a smartphone app. You hit a button, it plays a fart. Many fart options are available, and you can repeat and layer them on top of each other to create rich symphonic effects.

Jesse can knock out a dance mix on iFart like the best house DJ you’ve ever met. She lays down thumpers and high descants, embedding them in repeating rhythmic patterns that leave me bouncing my head against all sense. Fart noises shouldn’t make me want to dance. Yesterday Jesse was all business as she laid down her track post-dentist, her face set in a serious mask. You wouldn’t have known she was having fun. Except for the extensive fart noises.

iFart is, sadly, one of the most-favored apps on my iPhone. It says something so sad and juvenile about me, but iFart never lets me down. When we were in California last month, I sat down one day on the big sofa in my mom’s living room. To my left on a neighboring sofa was my brother Eric — a master scatologist, a keeper of the poop flame, never ashamed of his bowel functions. To my right on a neighboring barca-lounger was his wife Wendy, a mild-mannered and modest-souled woman who I imagine excuses herself from a room to go silent-fart in private. Poor Wendy. I wonder if she knew what she was marrying into, this family of free-farting animals passing for human beings.

I don’t know what came over me. I placed my iPhone next to my right hip on high volume and punched up The Wipe Out, a fart option that lasts exactly five seconds. It doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, but trust me: a five-second fart is unholy long.

The Wipe Out sang out.

I looked to my right and smiled. Sweet Wendy, who would never make fun of anyone or call someone out for something embarrassing, looked at me. 1.5 seconds into The Wipe Out, her face screwed up into a mix of horror and revulsion as she cried out in earnest from her barca-lounger, “Oh my God, Carla!”

I looked to my left and smiled. 3 seconds gone. By now Eric was also looking at me in total disgust. “Jeez Carla, what the hell is that??”

5 seconds gone. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It took just a moment for them to figure out that it was the app and not me, but for that short moment they must have thought my pants were full of crap and I was the most revolting human being in the world.

It set me to wondering. Just how much does it take to fill Eric with a sense of scatological loathing? A lot, really. He’s my brother, after all.

But iFart did it, in just 5 seconds. That’s impressive.

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Grumpy about cargo farts

It was another cargo fart day for Nick. We’ve had way too many of these lately.

He took a dump this morning in private, and before he let me come in to wipe his ass, he mercy-flushed. When I approached him, he explained to me that the piece of poop was “SOOOOO HUUUUUGE” that he just had to flush it. Then he also pointed out the extensive smear marks remaining in the toilet from that turd trying to circle its way down the toilet drain.

Sigh.

When Nick says his poops are huge, he’s not exaggerating. They are, as I’ve said before, man poops. Given their length and diameter, I don’t understand how they can exist in his little torso. It defies anatomical explanation. I hypothesize that there’s a wormhole inside his body that leads to another dimension in which the stools are stored until they’re ready to re-enter earth’s atmosphere and exit his poophole. Maybe the wormhole was formed from all the probiotics and yogurt I feed him.

Anyway, in the course of communicating essential bowel movement facts to me today, Nick stood up, which means his butt squeezed up, which in turn means the messy poo sticking to his ass got smeared all over his cheeks.

Sigh.

I got him to bend over and put his hands on the floor, and I went at it with some wet wipes. For some reason, I had a gag reflex going and my eyes watered. I’m not usually like that, but the smell and mess today were something else.

We both survived and moved on with our day. But about an hour later, Nick spoke as he wandered over to me. “Mommy, I pooped my pants.”

Sigh.

He was walking a little funny, but not like a chimpanzee.

“Is it a lot or a little?”

“Just a little, mommy. I fawted.”

We ran upstairs to the bathtub. Before I could stop him, he shoved his hands into his underwear to fondle his butt.

Sigh.

I tried not to over-react. I managed to pull down his pants without his hands touching me, and sure enough there was a little squirt of the Wet Brown Stuff nestled snuggly in his underpants.

You know the drill. Shower. New clothes. Wash the shit off the old clothes. More gagging and eye-watering. Small load of laundry. Recover.

I keep telling Nick not to fart if he has to give it a good push. I keep telling him to sit on the can before he bears down even the tiniest bit. I keep telling him that an honest fart doesn’t need any help. It has no impulse control. It just blurts naturally. It’s like a bubble popping. It’s like a breeze casually blowing through the trees. It’s like a little kid tripping over a tree root. It’s like, it’s like… It’s like all sorts of things that don’t involve shitting in your pants. He’s not listening to me.

Nothing defeats me like the shit my kids give me.

Grumpy about the vacation: Assateague

We’ve finished up our camping interlude, with 3 nights at Assateague and 1 quick night at Kiptopeke State Park in lieu of a hotel.

We got dirty and had fun in the ocean and bay, except for times when we were dirty and didn’t have fun. That’s how it goes when you travel with two little kids and a grumpy mom.

The first tent night was tough. Jesse had a hard time settling down, and there was much moaning and groaning. We fixed the problem for the other nights via extreme bribery, 5 entire bucks if you can be quiet for the night. It seemed wrong somehow to be barking at my child at 2 am, “remember the 5 dollars? Be quiet right now if you want them!” But it was effective, so I was satisfied.

There were wild ponies right in our campsite!

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Down side: steaming piles of horse shit right in our campsite.

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We had loads of fun on the beautiful beaches. The surf was mellow and we lucked out with low tides, so the kids were able to enjoy pretty calm seas on the first ocean trip of their young lives. We built a sand fort and populated it with little mole crabs we captured in our digs. We eventually set the crabs free in the surf and mocked the passing lady who was grossed out that they were STILL ALIVE.

Nick didn’t act like a kid who’s afraid of water as he waded out into the frothing surf and vanquished waves with his imaginary powers. Jesse swam in and rode waves on her boogie board, overcoming anxiety and outright fear. She was tiny and lithe and spectacular. There were pelicans, herons and egrets, gulls, wading birds, horseshoe and normal crabs, dolphins, and a huge school of fish the dolphins had herded to the surf. Magical.

Down side: sand. We discovered that Nick is OCD about sand between his toes, requiring surgical precision in the removal of each grain when we leave the beach. Jesse is OCD at-large, so at random moments she just freaks out for a while about sand on different parts of her body. All we can really do is grit our teeth and wait until she works through it.

I have no beach photos to share. I didn’t take any because I was playing. Sometimes I like not having pictures; they have a tendency to replace broad deep memories with a limited, one-dimensional idealization.

But also sometimes I wish I was a pro so I could capture an image that was the event unto itself. One evening we saw the full moon rise before night fell. The sky was red and purple from the setting sun, and the moon shimmered through a mist of clouds. It lasted all of 20 seconds before the clouds covered it up, and it took my breath away. Unfortunately, this is the image my iPhone captured:

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Yeah. That little dot in the sky is the big beautiful moon. The real thing was much more impressive. I wish you had seen it with me.

Fecal Friday (a day late): smell my fart. It’s good for you

Who knew that farting on my kids was good for them? Apparently I did. Sometimes you have to trust your parenting instincts:

http://time.com/2976464/scientists-say-smelling-farts-might-prevent-cancer/

I don’t usually like to give parenting advice, but come on people. Give your gene pool a leg up on cancer: go fart on your kids.

fecal Friday: workplace tales

Gawker has a very entertaining piece on how to poop at work. It’s a must-read if you have workplace poop tales that make you laugh, or that you have to deal with in therapy.

Anthony once excused himself for a potty break during one of those all-day job interviews. Unfortunately, his future boss followed him into the restroom. Even more unfortunately, Anthony had to take a dump, but the guy stayed and kept talking as Anthony voided his stool. 15 years later, this is the only thing I remember from my debriefing with Anthony about how the interview went. Anthony was mystified, horrified by the strangeness, but he took the job anyway. Not surprisingly, the boss turned out to be a complete nut job, and Anthony moved on quickly. Lessons learned.

I used to work in one of those fancy law firms with Chihuly and a beautiful receptionist in the lobby. The library would order multiple copies of papers and magazines, and each would circulate to 5 or 6 lawyers. Thanks to the mail guys who came around every hour, periodicals would arrive all day long in my in-box, each with a little check-off list of names stapled on the cover showing me who had already read it. The restrooms were near the beautiful receptionist, who took note of a particular partner who hit the can for a long spell every morning, always carrying a circulating newspaper or the Economist. The receptionist was a great source of fun gossip. Needless to say, everyone in the know had their names removed from circulation when they saw this partner’s name above theirs on the check-off list. I know I did, pronto.

It’s really about etiquette, I guess, but how does one associate etiquette with pinching a loaf?

By the way, I learned that phrase when I was a little girl, listening to a Cheech and Chong album that my brother Ted had. I didn’t know they were supposed to be stoned. I laughed and laughed, and accurate or not, this is how I remember the album starting: Hey maaaan, I gotta pinch a loaf… What? I gotta drop a stool. Whaaat? I gotta take a dump! And then there was something about a dog chasing a car… Huh. I must have snuck that album, because I don’t really think Ted would have put it on for me.

Anyway, in the workplace the one paramount behavior that etiquette requires, in my opinion, is the courtesy flush. A dear old friend who shall remain nameless once made me cry laughing when he described going to the restroom at work for his usual morning bowel movement. He settled on the can, and just a few seconds later the outer restroom door opened and an anonymous voice barked just two words, “COURTESY FLUSH,” causing my friend to have a minor existential crisis about whether everyone in his office thought his shit stunk.

Well of course it did, but so did everyone else’s. The pre-conclusion courtesy flush was sound advice.

Fecal Friday: the wilderness poop

When I was a little girl, I lived in Korea where people would often sit comfortably in a wide full squat, feet flat on the ground, their arms or armpits resting on their knees. Very relaxing. My grandma’s home had a well-dressed latrine hole in the bathroom for human waste, so if I had to vent when I visited her, I squatted just like that. It worked great. But by the time I grew up and was going backcountry, I had lost the knack.

Americans don’t do much squatting except in exercise routines, and that sort of half-squat will do you no good when it comes to a comfortable rest, a bowel movement, or child birth for that matter. My brother Mark (who is weirdly full of sage and practical information) once told me that the best approach to a wilderness dump is to find a young sapling you can grab with both hands as you squat, and that lets you bear down without falling over. It was great advice.

I have very few memories of pooping in the wild, but I must have done it many times. I assume it must be traumatic in some way, so that I block it out. I don’t get it. I don’t want my kids to feel weird about it. I just want them to comfortably go about the business of voiding their waste, with no fuss, taboo, or remorse.

Nick was born ready for the wilderness poop. He learned not to crap in his pants mainly by running outside and pooping in our yard. He would just drop his ass down into a textbook poop-squat, his hands resting lightly on the ground in front of him, and let loose. Since his tiny cheeks were spread so wide by the stance, usually there was nothing to clean off his butt. One little wipe to make sure, and done. If you’ve ever pooped in the wilderness and handled it right, then you appreciate what a great thing this is. You pack out what you pack in, including used toilet paper, so a low-maintenance poop is highly valuable. Way to go, Nick!

I used to think the OCD would make wilderness pooping extremely difficult for Jesse. But Jesse’s OCD, like many mental disorders in kids, doesn’t seem to exist in a wilder setting. Nature begets all kinds of wellness. The foul, filthy outhouses we often find in campsites drive Jesse (and me) to madness. On the other hand, she’s perfectly fine with a lovely bit of earth covered in leaf mold and peopled with a few creepy crawlies.

One day on a hike through some woods and meadows in the Tetons, Jesse had a sudden and desperate need to poo. We scurried off the trail and looked for a good spot. It was a bit marshy, but we managed to find a place dry enough to set her feet on firmly. She settled down and issued one of those enormous stools that sometimes come out of children, an anatomical impossibility. It took a while for her to clear her colon, and of course flies gathered, buzzing the poop and Jesse’s bare ass. Jesse wanted to know what the flies were doing on her shit. Eating it, I answered. It’s fresh food for them. La la la. We took care of business, wiped Jesse’s ass down, bagged the used TP in a ziplock. We headed back to the trail, but after a few paces Jesse paused and looked back. “FLIES!” she cried out joyfully and musically, throwing her arms wide with a Broadway flair. “FLIES, come eat!! I have left a Jesse poop feast for you!”

Now that’s the right proper spirit of a wilderness poop.

Fecal Friday!

I’ve decided to have a summer series as part of my blogging non-ritual. Fecal Fridays. I have so many poop tales to tell. Friday is a good day for it, because I don’t think many people catch my Friday blogs.

This topic came up today as I was sitting poolside with my friend Phyllis, while our four-year-olds were having their semi-private swim lesson. Nick had dropped his goggles in the water earlier. They sunk (sank?) to the bottom and were promptly forgotten. I noticed him starting to whine about his face getting wet, so I wandered over to pool’s edge, leaned over and peered down at them, and gestured over to teacher Sarah that here they were. Phyllis became slightly agitated. “Is it poop?”

A totally fair question, experience says. A preschool group gets in the pool right before our kids’ lesson. Picture 20 or 30 hypothetically-potty-trained 3-to-5 year olds bouncing around in a cordoned-off part of a shallow pool, packed in shoulder to shoulder, while their teachers laze about on the benches staring blankly into space. Imagine what comes out of their bums. Leaving aside the invisible liquid matter, turds are frequently discovered after the horde leaves the pool.

I personally feel that if the teachers were required to get in that pool with the kids, the poopage would be reduced dramatically. All the right incentives would be there to ensure the kids take care of their business elsewhere.

An aside. I think poopage should be a word. It is a word in the Carla dictionary. Autocorrect should not make it into “poi page.” That makes no sense. Why not at least autocorrect to “poop age”? Why add fish to the equation?

Phyllis knows I’m entertained by poop and fart jokes and stories. (I think it’s why she loves me.) I know I’m not alone. I recently looked through greeting cards at Whole Foods and discovered a full rack of poop-and-fart-joke cards. My favorite was the unicorn flying through outer space with a sparkly rainbow trail shooting out its ass, and a caption along the lines of “where did you THINK rainbow sparkle candy came from?” Oh hahaha, oh stop, stop, I’m doubled over and wiping tears from my eyes. Whew.

Wait while I regather my thoughts and unclench my abdominals…. Okay, better. Phyllis suggested I blog about poop regularly. Brilliant. We noodled some names for such a series and settled on Fecal Fridays. I googled it to see if it’s in use already. I wouldn’t want to infringe on someone’s trademark.

Incredibly, it appears that “fecal Friday” is a sort of cultural phenomenon with animal doctors. I didn’t delve far enough to make complete sense of it, so I could be totally full of shit and exaggerating, but my super-thorough 30-second sweep of google results has led me to conclude that vets across the country offer “fecal Friday” specials so you can bring your pet in for anal exams and drop off turds for testing, for free or on discount.

I’m thrilled to have learned this. It’s really news to me.

Anyway, I’ll try to do it. Fecal Fridays. I’ll shoot the shit about poop-related topics. I hope you’re as excited as I am. Guest bloggers welcome. Share your poop tales with me. I won’t judge.

farts and therapy go well together

This afternoon I took Jesse in for her weekly meeting with her psychologist, Dr. Abrams. In the past few sessions she’s crossed over to a new level of engagement with him. When I leave her alone with him in the office she doesn’t have a fit anymore, and it seems like they’re able to have more constructive conversations about things that are going on.

Dr. Abrams seems to have embraced a sort of uber-positive approach with Jesse. Recognizing how critical she is of herself, he finds every opportunity to highlight and praise encounters and behaviors she can feel good about, no matter how small. He says things like, “I’m proud of you but I’m not surprised, because I know you can do it.” I think he’s also modeling for me, to gently remind me to keep my eye on the up side of things. Jesse usually leaves his office acting and apparently feeling a lot better. This evening as we walked out to the car, she announced, “I think I’m a caring person, aren’t I.” She was very matter-of-fact, but this is no small statement for her. Most days she tells me the very opposite about herself at least a couple times, like a litany, “I’m a horrible bad person and I do everything wrong and I ruin everything and you hate me.” I’ve heard it so much that I don’t even feel all that bad anymore; it’s just how Jesse is. Hearing her acknowledge the alternative truth? That’s a rare something.

I can see why today’s meeting helped her feel better. At the end of a session, Dr. Abrams fills me in on anything he thinks is important for me to know, usually no more than brushstrokes about topics that were on Jesse’s mind. Today Dr. Abrams let me know that Jesse told him Anthony has very smelly gas. I readily acknowledged this fact of life. Dr. Abrams looked a little skeptical or worried as he added, “she says sometimes daddy farts ON her?”

My mouth opened before I could stop it. Oh yeah we do! In my world, if you’ve got one loaded at the right moment, you weaponize that fart. It’s a very effective way to get even and to get some alone time. I even demonstrated my delivery method (though no ammo was available) on Nick, who was peacefully playing with an electronic device. Nick took no notice, but Dr. Abrams’ facial expression had me mildly concerned, so I asked him, don’t you fart on your kids? “Actually, no. I don’t.”

Mmmm. I anticipate that this will at least help Dr. Abrams have a better sense of the conditions in which Jesse is growing up. Maybe just being able to tell someone that her daddy farts on her is enough to improve Jesse’s outlook. I know that venting always makes me feel better, regardless of which end it’s from.