Sometimes, being a parent means you have to do things which you would normally run a mile from, and most of these are arse-related. Like when you’re wiping your child’s bottom, for example, and your finger inadvertently tears through the cheap single-ply Sainsbury’s Basics loo roll you bought because being a parent means you don’t have any money any more. Or when your baby is constipated and you have to lie them on their back and do bicycle legs until a turd emerges from their backside like some kind of disgusting Play-Doh machine.
Today I almost reached the limits of my parenting capabilities. Thanks to an order from his GP, I had to obtain a poo sample from my six year-old son.
It was like a scene from Mission: Impossible. Your mission, Ben, should you choose to accept it, is to scoop a little bit of ripe poo into a plastic tube using a tiny spoon without bursting into tears.
The first challenge was getting to the poo in the first place. Do I catch it, hovering my hands tentatively below his bottom? Or perhaps capture it with a couple of sheets of outstretched toilet roll, like a fireman’s blanket? It would tumble into the tissue paper in super-slow motion, like some kind of awful Andrex advert. I mulled over my options whilst Isaac stood in front of the toilet, hopping from one foot to the next, looking at me imploringly.
In the end, I decided on putting a Tupperware tub in the bowl of the toilet and letting that do the catching instead - a pretty good plan, if I do say so myself. And so, for the next few seconds, Isaac sat on the toilet and did poo-strain face at me whilst I braced myself with one hand against the wall and covered my face with the other. This is not how I envisaged my Saturday morning turning out. Whilst other people gently awake to daylight streaming in through the curtains, here I am about to scoop poo into a tube.
Because he either a) wanted to help by producing a firm turd or b) wanted to punish me by stinking out the entire house, Isaac produced a gargantuan effort with a girth akin to that of a baby’s thigh. The smell and reality of the situation which sank into my nostrils and brain respectively made me retch so violently that Noah came upstairs to see what all the noise was. What he saw was his father scooping a poo at arm’s length whilst making sounds which wouldn’t sound out of place in The Exorcist. Meanwhile, Isaac is on all fours, waiting for me to wipe his backside with cheap single-ply loo roll…well, you know the rest.
The tears came when I was disinfecting the tub, but I blinked them back and blamed them on the smell. After rubbing about three bottles’ worth of antiseptic gel on my hands I head to the fridge and grab as much chocolate as I can find. White chocolate, mind. It’ll be a while before I can touch Dairy Milk again.