WARNING- this is a gross story about poop
Our family has a Personal Responsibility Chart, where the kids earn stickers daily for taking personal responsibility for their health, their happiness, the cleanliness of our home, etc. We have 10-15 target areas , and once the kids both earn 10 stickers on every target area they can choose to get a new toy or $10.
An area we struggle with is sleep. Our rule (that has been part of the responsibility chart since the responsibility chart was a thing) is that they have to stay in their own bed from kisses good night until the alarm rings in the morning to commence morning snuggle time (we set the alarm for 10 minutes before we need to get up, it wakes up the kids and they come in our bed until we hit snooze). It has taken us years to shorten the bedtime routine and nurture their ability to self-sooth back to sleep. It still isn’t 100%, though, so the incentive of a sticker makes all the difference.
Last night I woke up with a start at 5:00am. I usually wake up at 5:15 to meet my sister at the gym before work, so it wasn’t terribly early. I shot up in bed, strained my ears to hear the children breathing in their own rooms. Realizing I was acting crazy, I logged in to reddit to waste 10 minutes before I had to get to the gym.
I think the smell reached me first, or maybe it was the practically inaudible groan escaping Ninja’s bed. He walked into our room and asked if it was morning snuggle time. I said no, the alarm hadn’t sounded. He pitifully intoned, “please can I snuggle?” He had his immunizations the day before so I took pity on him, thinking his extreme gassyness (the smell was getting worse) might have woken him up. I grabbed his little body and held him close, singing our song into his ear. I patted his tiny butt only to discover the source of the smell was not trapped gas, but an unleashed bout of diarrhea quickly soaking through his Lego ninja underwear and covering my pajamas and hands.
I took him into the bathroom and comforted him as I cleaned him up, telling the story of how even mommy has pooed herself. I could tell he was starting to feel better, he was perking up and smiling a little. Then he said, “You better check the bed. I wanted a sticker, Mommy, so you better check the bed.” Poor Ninja, after talking about it I discovered that the old adage “never trust a fart” rings especially true for four-year-olds trying to stay in bed a little longer and earn a sticker.
Every night when I read the kids their stories, sing their songs and tuck them in I remind them of our family covenant not to leave the bed until the alarm sounds. I remind them that I am a nicer mommy when I sleep, remind them I love them even when they are sleeping, then walk out of the room and into the blessed 45 minute “grown-up” time of my day. After this morning’s event I think I need to amend my words. I wish I would have known he needed to hear “no leaving your bed unless you need to take a poo, there is no punishment for pooing.”