The kitchen trash can is a good simile to use when describing the pooping process to a toddler. It’s succinct, accurate, and easily comprehensible. Trash goes in; the can gets full; the can then must be emptied. Otherwise no more trash will fit. The container will start to swell and distend. Unhealthful conditions will ensue! Anyone can understand that, right?
Good metaphor or not, it has had no effect at all. MJ has still not pooped. It has been seven days. I have tried begging, threatening, bribing, demonstrating, and feeding her copious amounts of flaxseed oil and prune juice. Nothing.
So this morning we returned to the “emptying trash” metaphor. We explained to MJ that, because her “trash can” was so full, we were going to have to give her something Mike called “bum medicine.” It was actually called a Fleet enema. We had it on good authority that it would fix the problem lickety-split. Best of all, I hadn’t even had to buy it. A neighbor had heard of our troubles and offered the remainder of a box she had sitting in her medicine cabinet. She’d only used one unit, on her son. It had produced immediate and powerful results. She encouraged me to give it a shot.
“Forget about ‘natural methods’,” she said. “It’s been a long stretch, now. You gotta get her cleared. Go for the big guns.”
And it’s true. It has been a long stretch. A long stretch of sudden, panicked trips to the potty, of repeated readings of”Blueberries For Sal,” of fruitless searches for results in the bottom of the plastic, white potty. I have tried to stay calm. I have refrained from harping. I have fed MJ enough dried fruit to clean out the entire Roman Senate. If they were still around. And not busy stabbing Julius Caesar. Assholes.
Anyway, nothing has worked. So, this morning, in went the enema. According to the package it was supposed to work “in minutes.”
“How many minutes?” I asked Mike, who was in charge of reading the directions.
He scanned the box. “I don’t know, but it says if nothing has happened in an hour we should take her to the doctor. That her condition ‘may be serious.’
Great. Visions of twisted colons danced before my eyes. They weren’t pretty. And I’ve never even seen a colon.
Ten minutes passed. Twenty. An hour. Nothing. Not one turd. Not one fart! No indication, on MJ’s part, that she felt anything at all except mild amusement. If anything, being constipated seemed to agree with her. While Mike and I stared at the clock and exchanged dire looks, she created a merry-go-round in the living room with her owl, two slippers, and some plastic chairs.
Mike left for work. I put MJ on the potty, just in case. We dug in for the long haul. I got my computer; we skyped with my sister. We read “Blueberries For Sal.” Blueberries are supposed to have a laxative effect. Why the fuck weren’t they working? I told MJ a story about a yellow dog named Coco and a purple snake named “Sicky.” (She comes up with the character names. Hmm…)
Another hour. Nothing.
Apparently we have a “serious problem.”
I really don’t love our family doctor. He has the personality of a cough drop. So I called a pediatricians group I’ve been wanting to check out and asked if a new patient could get in this afternoon. I told them the situation. They squeezed us in! They said it was a “miracle” that they could. Joyfully, I called our old doctor and requested that they fax over MJ’s records. They said they’d do it — right away! Incredible. At least something was flowing this morning.
Then it occurred to me I should call our insurance company to be sure the new pediatricians were in network. After a long wait, and a conversation too insipid to describe, I learned that they were not, in fact, “preferred.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Oh, just that they’re not covered,” the far-away female voice said regretfully.
I took a deep breath. Why does everything have to be a euphemism? “You couldn’t just have said that?
She paused. “I’m sorry, Ma’am.”
I hung up and called the new pediatricians back. Sadly, I cancelled our miracle appointment. Then I dialed our old, mediocre-but-“preferred” doctor and got an appointment for this afternoon.
Soon after I hung up something occurred to me. I went and found the box of enemas. I checked the bottom. They had expired six months ago.
Nothing is flowing. It was just a cruel joke. If there were such a thing as an existential laxative I would need one. Right. Now.
Perhaps I’ll inquire at the doctor’s this afternoon.