A Walk in the Park

Mayhem is walking backwards pointing at his bum.

“Poo poo mummy.”

I put my finger inside the stretchy bit of his nappy and pull it back, to peep inside.

“Just a fart,” I say.

He waddles off and balances a knight on top of the rocking horse. “Charge!” he shouts and wallops the knight under the sofa. He spends the next four minutes grunting on his knees as he tries to retrieve it.

He approaches me again. “Poo poo mummy.”

I yank at his nappy too quickly, and my finger is met with warm poo.

When I see my husband later I say, “I think Mayhem may be ready for the potty.”

He sighs. “Do we have to talk about this over dinner?”

“Would you prefer to talk about it in bed?”

“I don’t think we need to talk about it at all – I mean it all went rather smoothly with Milk didn’t it?”

I watch my husband closely to see if he is joking. He isn’t.

I think back to potty training Milk. We put potties all over the house which, on reflection is a little odd because adults don’t go to the loo all over the place, unless they are 95, pissed, or just had a baby.

There are many ways to approach potty training. Some people lock themselves in the house for a week in a sea of pee. I decided staying inside with both children was much worse than swimming in wee, so I used to put Milk’s nappy on when we left the house, and take it off when we got home.

One day Milk refused to wear a nappy. This is a critical moment in potty training. You have reached the point where you have to trust your kid.

And then pack lots of spare clothes.

We headed to our local park.

“We’re going to have a walk and then dinner in the café,” I told my husband over the phone.

“Lucky you, I’ll be stuck under someone’s armpit on the Tube.”

When we arrive I take Milk to the loo and he does a wee, which makes me ridiculously happy. It is a bright spring day and Mayhem is asleep in the sling, while Milk runs ahead of me. As we climb a steep hill onto a walkway lined with trees covered in fluffy pink blossom, I feel guilty my husband is trapped underground.

Until Milk tugs at my hand. “I need a poo.”

“What? No. Don’t do that now,” I say desperately, but his face is already scrunched up and turning red like someone trying to blow up a long thin balloon.

There is a ditch running alongside the avenue of trees. It’s our only hope.

“It’s coming mummy!” Milk shrieks and I push him sideways and yank his trousers down to his ankles. I’m nano seconds from winning this race, but the poo is victorious and breaks off, landing in Milk’s pants.

For a moment we are both silent, crouching in the ditch, staring at the problem, but then I hear laughter in the distance and look up to see a family wandering towards us.

I scrabble around for a wet wipe, and pull out a packet. There is only one left. It is so dry it blows away in the breeze.

“Cold mummy,” Milk shivers. I help him step carefully out of his clothes.

The family is getting closer. A little girl is jumping in and out of the ditch. A little boy is poking at things with a stick. I have left all of the spare clothes in the car, but I find a pair of socks and pants, and in a blind panic use the socks to wipe Milk’s bum.

I try and encourage the poo to stay inside the trousers as I gather them up, but it rolls away into the ditch.

“Let it go! Let it go!” The little girl is singing Frozen at the top of her voice, and the family is close enough to be taking an interest in what I’m doing.

I can’t possibly leave a human poo in a park can I? Mayhem starts to cry in the sling. Yes I can. I grab a handful of gravel and chuck it over the scene of the crime, shoving the soiled clothes inside my bag. I heave myself upright.

“Afternoon!” I call enthusiastically, over the top of Mayhem’s screams, as the family approach.

“Lovely day isn’t it?” The mum smiles, glancing at Milk who is waiting on the path in his clean big boy pants.

“Oh yes wonderful!” I say brightly, standing over the pile of gravel so the little girl doesn’t jump in it, and the little boy can’t poke it with his stick.

I try to look relaxed in the smelly ditch with my baby crying and my little boy inappropriately dressed. They move on and we make a dash for the car.

I relay the events to my husband that evening.

“Sounds like a walk in the park,” he jokes, but quickly adds, “when we potty train Mayhem, we’ll have to remember this.”

“No, you will. I doubt I will ever forget.” I down a glass of red.