The story of a Christmas tree excursion that didn’t go exactly as planned.
It was a dark evening in the Christmas tree tent, as 3 year old Jack and 8 year old Shane ran around giggling with glee during their annual hide-n-seek game. The other tree-shoppers didn’t seem to mind. They had also been touched by the cheer of the holiday spirit and joyful children were an expected component.
My husband and I took our time scrutinizing over which tree to choose. To be fair, I took my time, while Mike dutifully obliged my wishes. This entailed picking up and opening several different trees to find one that was suitable. It had to be the right height, very full, no big gaping holes, healthy and green. We only get to do this once a year, so, of course this tree is very important to me.
When I was a child my Dad would drive us out to a California Christmas tree farm to find and chop down the perfect tree. Racing around in between all of the living trees with my siblings and taking in the gorgeous smell was a cherished way to start the holiday season.
Now as a Mom with my own children, our family hasn’t gone so far as to initiate a tree-chopping tradition, but over the years many treasured rituals were born. My little boys looked forward to hiding and seeking within the fragrant trees each year.
To my excitement, and Mike’s relief we eventually settled on a great tree after much deliberation.
Yay! Another successful Xmas tree procuring expedition!
Or so I thought.
“Mommy… I pooped my pants” young Jack said as he walked up to me with a very sad and shameful look on his face, seizing me from my tree selection bliss.
My little Jack had been so happily engaged in his one and only chance of the year to hide and seek with his brother amongst the Xmas trees that he had lost track of the fact that a visit to the bathroom was needed.
He was fully potty trained by this point and had been using the toilet perfectly for quite some time. Therefore, as we were well out of the diaper changing and bathroom learning phase, I was no longer carrying around extra clothes and underwear “just in case.” Those days were pretty well behind us, and no mishaps had happened in a while.
Thoughts raced through my mind at that moment as I had a split second of Mommy panic.
What am I going to do? I don’t have clean underwear or pants for him. I don’t even have baby wipes? Wait, are there any baby wipes in the car? What a nightmare. My poor baby is going to freak out. We’re 20 minutes from home and we’re not even ready to leave yet. Oh man!
“I’m sorry Mommy. I was playing with Shane and I just forgot and then it was too late.”
My alarm was quickly alleviated with the realization that I just HAD to do whatever I could and it would have to be good enough for an emergency solution. And suddenly I felt like SuperMom.
It’s okay – you’ve got this. It’s just poop and we’ve lived through worse! This is going to be a funny memory one day.
I looked at my darling boy. Instead of getting frustrated or annoyed with him, I told him, “It’s okay, Sweetie. Accidents happen. Let’s go to the bathroom and clean you up as best we can.”
I could tell that my acceptance and calm in that moment made a huge difference for him. What could have turned into a full on storm of emotions and drama was not a big deal and he was okay.
While Mike and Shane wrapped up the tree purchase, Jack and I marched through the hardware store to the very back where the bathrooms were. He undressed in the big stall and my first thought upon seeing the underwear was: Let’s just throw these bad boys straight in the garbage. They do not need salvaging. That was liberating. Giving myself permission to trash those underpants was exactly what I needed at that moment.
Then, I cleaned him up with wet paper towels from the bathroom and washed his shorts with soap and water in the sink as thoroughly as I could. I dried the shorts with the hand dryer while he waited patiently in the stall. His shorts were not fully dry by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they were clean.
Jack was such a good sport. Normally being very picky about clothing and how it feels, he understood that we didn’t have any other option and this was just a temporary fix until we got home.
With our Christmas tree finally fastened to the top of the car, Jack sat in his car seat in his wet shorts all the way home and did not cry or complain. Of course, once home we did a full bath and dressed him in clean underwear and cozy pajamas and called it a day.
Looking back, I’m so glad this number 2 predicament happened during the graciousness of the Christmas season. I was forgiving and Jack was in a happy mood. Poopy pants didn’t bring us down. Now we all think back to that crazy night every year with laughter. And “Mommy, I pooped my pants” never happened again.
So, what is the moral of this story?
Always have baby wipes with you. Even grown ups need them sometimes! My children respond directly to my attitude. I can make the sun shine or make it rain with my own reactions to them. When life throws you and your loved ones a pile of crap, stay calm, give yourself a moment to get centered and let your inner SuperMom come to the rescue. She’s in there and she knows what to do!