Thursday, September 07, 2006


As a parent we pretty much assume that our routine is going to include predominantly giving. Giving our children love through hugs and kisses. Giving our children nourishment through food and drink. Giving our children shelter, clothing, medicine when they are sick. In general, giving them a safe place to grow. Except for the occasional splinter and pretzel up the nose, we're not really prepared to extract things from our children. At least WE weren't.

Ellie has been playing the "holding it" game since July. She holds it and holds it and holds it and HOLDS IT until she literally can't sit down and then she tries to hold it some more by doing what we finally recognized as the "Poop Walk". She would pace the floor, going from room to room occasionally leaning against a chair or table to try to fight her body's needs for just a little bit longer. The game finally timed out when she would wet herself (always on the dining room rug) and then have to be carried to the bathroom screaming in pain. Sounds like fun, huh! It gets better.

After a month of this self-inflicted faux-constipation, we sought the help of a doctor who put her on numerous stool softeners, laxatives and extreme fiber-rich diets. Nothing worked. This girl could out last a cocktail of the aforementioned that would give an elephant explosive diarrhea. She held it until her intestines were so full that child birth would have been easier. She's 4.

So not wanting to go through that struggle again, she continued the holding it game. After an especially long "Poop Walk" Monte decided to talk with the pharmacist at CVS who recommended a suppository. Nothing happened--she didn't even flinch. Two hours later, Monte was back at CVS begging for another alternative. He came back with an enema. I've never had one nor do I recommend them but it FINALLY broke the streak of the holding it game. Monte couldn't watch (he wasn't around for the suppository either). Three days later, Ellie was back to her old tricks. So back to the doctor we went. After a rectal exam and other poking and prodding, the doctor determined she was indeed "full of it" and put her on a prescription strength medicine used to prepare your body for medical procedures (this is the type of thing my brother calls Colon Blow). She encouraged us to help Ellie get over the psychological obstacles of going to the bathroom. So poop is a hot word at our house. At any given time you'll hear us say, "Pooping is fun" or "Who wants to be part of the Poop Club?" (Monte came up with that one). We also go through a list of everyone in our family (distant and immediate) who, in fact, poops. Educations are hard at work here.

Things are slowly getting more normal for Ellie. The Colon Blow (that's not really what it's called) certainly did its job--on the floor, every step leading upstairs, in the hallway, on the bathroom floor and all over the bathtub. That was right before the babysitter rang the doorbell which I had to answer wearing rubber gloves and holding a spray bottle of bleach. "Oh, just doing some spring cleaning!" Monte walked by wearing rubber gloves as well holding Ellie's soiled dress as if it were explosive (of another nature). "Oh hi, Kate! Thanks so much for watching the girls for us!" he said as if he were reading the paper and not holding something unmistakably, horrifyingly poopy. We left to attend Ellie's school and meet her preschool teachers. In the middle of it, I had to ask Monte in a whisper, "Do I smell like poop?" Of course, there was no way he could tell. It was on our brains, in our hair, on our clothes and deeply imbedded into our senses. Except for Ellie coming home from a playdate yesterday with an "accident" in her drawers ("Mom, I didn't know how to tell what happened") it seems to be getting better each day.

In the middle of all the Poop Walks and doctor visits, McDaniel started getting wiggly teeth--four, to be exact. She'd pick one and wiggle it with her fingers and then her tongue until she couldn't stand it anymore and beg to have it yanked out of her mouth. Monte went through grand ceremonies involving dental floss, doorknobs, pliers and lots of tears and frustration. I just reached in her mouth and pulled it out. After each tooth came out, Monte was exhausted, "Why have we had to work so hard to get things OUT of our girls?"

McDaniel has lost all four now (she has her permanent front teeth and bottom teeth, these are the ones beside them) so her smile looks like a jack-o-lantern or someone from Deliverance. Her letters to the tooth fairy are nothing short of an investigative report, searching for loop holes in her enchanted toothy story. Last night, she left a note for T.F. (as she likes to refer to the tooth fairy) that she wanted one of MY teeth in addition to money. Eew. "I can't," answered T.F. Apparently the tooth fairy is better at taking things (having had nothing to do with the extraction) than giving them back. Hmmm…I wonder if she needs an assistant.

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