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Shit is ruling my life.

I don’t mean that in some metaphoric sense, as a nifty catch-all for all of the stuff that I need to do. My shit is not the kind of shit that you write on a list, like “clean out sock drawer” or “buy new curtains.” Nope, my shit is the literal sort. And there is entirely too much of it.

The cats are the source of some of the shit. It’s to be expected, really, since we put these lovely boxes in the basement for them to use. This, to me, is an acceptable amount of shit to have in one’s home, if one has to have shit at all. Mooch (the cat), however, has taken to scooting his nasty ass all over the carpets and bedspreads because he has grown too fat to take care of his business in the traditional feline way. I frequently have to hold him down and scrub his behind with a baby wipe. Yes, it is an activity we all love and is truly testing my desire to continue living with such a gross animal.

Then there is the baby, our mellow little Dude who seems to suffer from the condition that plagues those of us in the family with big round heads, which would be me, the Diva and the Dude. As it turns out, our melonheads do not contain sinus that drain effectively. Most of the heavy phlegm months – the ones that end in “r” or start with “Jan-“ or “Feb-“ or “Mar” – are spent running back and forth to various medical professionals who prescribe copious amounts of antibiotics. Alternative methods have been tried but with no success. The only thing that keeps the bugs at bay is the hard stuff.

As wonderful as modern chemistry is, it invariably leads to a nice case of runny buns. I feed the Dude amazing amounts of yogurt, but his bowels are still in an uproar. He’s such an evenly tempered babe that his GI distress doesn’t really faze him. His diapers, however, are a sight to behold, if you go for that sort of thing. Usually, said poo requires a complete change of clothes for all of us.

I have a secret theory on how he manages to poop up his back – it involves the dam-like properties of testicles – but no good solutions. At least the baby shit is going where it belongs, for the most part. It’s something to be thankful for.

The Diva’s poo, however, is a problem. It’s not because of quantity or composition but because of location. Potty training (or “toilet learning,” if you are appalled at the idea of treating a child like a puppy) has been a tough sell with our firstborn. Liquids took until she was a few months past three to really get a handle on. We ditched the Pull-ups when it became apparent that she didn’t mind peeing in them, simply put her in underpants and let the pee fall where it may. Surprisingly, it fell mostly where it needed to. There was much rejoicing.

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Solids are a completely different puzzle. Despite all of our begging, pleading, bribing and threatening, her shit winds up in her underpants most of the time. One pediatrician chalks it up to her inconstant bowel habits, which remain so despite her recent refusal to eat anything other than kidney beans or carrots. Said doctor suggested slipping some Metamucil into her morning O.J. Despite this, the poo still wound up in her pants, but did so with remarkable regularity.

Another pediatrician in the practice, who she had to see about a week later because we suspected she had a sinus infection, merely handed the Hub a few photocopied articles about kids and their poop. In essence, these scraps of wisdom point out that preschoolers like to resist things simply for the joy of resisting. This is doubly true when there is a new sibling in the house who competes for parental attention. Suddenly, it all made sense.

“Make her responsible for her own bowel movements,” the article advised. “Remind her that she knows where the potty is and where poop goes and that the rest is up to her.” And so we have. We are now the Zen masters of the topic and remain stoic whenever the subject is broached. The adults in the house spend vast amounts of time breathing in an effort to not nag, remind, pester or otherwise mention the subject. So far, it’s working. The situation is improving. While not ideal yet, most of her shit is going where it should. Most of it. The most recent shit-related problem is with what happens to all of our bodily waste once it is flushed away. This past weekend was marred with a complete sewage system meltdown. The Hub, bless him, spent the better part of Saturday getting splashed with raw sewage in the basement while he tried to give the pipes an angioplasty with a plumber’s snake and toxic chemicals. It would have worked, too, if the problem had been in our house.

Ultimately, calls to the public works department, which isn’t staffed on Saturdays, led to a call to the police, which is where the public works’ recorded message sent us. The police dispatcher had no idea they were the public works’ weekend relief team and had to figure out who she needed to call. After an hour of telephonic round robin, a big yellow truck showed up and pried up the manhole in front of our house. The beefy public works guy looked like he was going to flee once he saw the mess within.

During the sewage sucking, the Hub realized that he’d left the cap off of the pipe in the basement. Sadly, this discovery wasn’t made until the house filled with the stench to blind all other stenches. The following morning, the smell remained and was almost three-dimensional, like a zombified personification of shit was living in the basement. Strangely, the smell didn’t phase the cats. Their noses are so sensitive that they can detect the scent of my merely thinking about a tuna sandwich. The sewage stench didn’t even raise an eyebrow, or would have, if the cats had eyebrows.

I have become obsessed with shit, lately. As I was driving to work the other morning, I saw an older woman walking her pug. I’d love to have a pug, I thought. They seem like cool dogs. I nearly puked when I realized that adopting a dog would mean that I had voluntarily added yet another source of shit into my already shit-filled life. While I know that I should embrace the poo, the shit is starting to bring me down.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini  has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was  born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about  knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. In July 2006, her first book Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood will be published.  During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy and Cory, and wife to Scott. 


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