what to do when your child poops in the museum

Warning: this story contains poop. And profanity. If either offends you, look away. But if you like laughing at the follies of others (me), read on…

I was feeling indestructible. We just returned from vacation—a nice break from the everyday grind—and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to have this stay-at-home-mom gig. I chose this, I thought, and how lucky am I to be able to spend every day with these two little angels? They poop unicorns and lilies and their urine smells of cupcakes.

So instead of spending our first day back from vacation catching up on laundry and grocery shopping, I decided to take my darling cherubs to the Children’s Museum. To hell with being sensible! I announced. We might not have a fruit or vegetable in the house, but today we’ll have FUN! 

The day was going swimmingly. Charlie (15 months) was toddling around with glee and her older sister Lucy (3) had found a slide that fascinated her more than the iPad. But all at once my tranquility was broken when Lucy asked from atop the slide,

“Mom, did you bring any extra panties?”

“No. No I didn’t, you little shit.”

But what I really said was, “Yes I did, sweetie. Did you poop?” Because she was making the squeezey face. (If you’re a parent you know exactly what the squeezey face is).

I felt her bottom (sidebar: at what point in parenting, I wonder, is it no longer appropriate to squeeze your child’s butt to check for fecal matter?). Inside her panties was a quarry of rock-hard turds the size of dimes. Shit. She’s dehydrated.

Just kidding. Because right at that moment I didn’t give a lick about her hydration. It was more like Shit. She has panties full of tiny turds. Now I have to clean this crap up, goddamit.

“Okay, Lu. Let’s take you to the bathroom and change your panties.”

I lifted her off the slide and tore Charlie away from the fish tank. In all her toddler glory she threw a tantrum the size of Texas and pulled the Gumby trick, and I nearly dropped her to the floor.

As we made our way out of the exhibit and toward the restroom, Lucy exclaims,

“Mom, it tickles!”

I look down. “What tickles?”

She’s squirming and giggling and grabbing her ankles.

“It’s on my leg!”

Mother fucking fuck fuck fucking fucker, I say in my head, because I know exactly what is on her leg, and I have packed everything in the diaper bag but my flask of vodka.

I lean down and, from the outside of her pants, locate the rock-hard-size-of-a-dime turd that has jumped ship from her panties and attempted to make its way down to her socks. I squish it to the inside of her pants so it doesn’t fall to the floor, which in retrospect I think is a pretty cool MacGyver-type move and I should receive some sort of awesome mom award for. The trophy would look like a pile of rock-hard turds.

Tiny paleontologist

Ten yards later, we’re almost to the restroom. Lucy feels a tickle again, and turns her tiny blonde head back in the direction from which we’ve come. There—sitting in the middle of the museum—is a lone turd. My hands are full with Gumby Baby, and I have no way to get the wipes out of my purse to pick up the lone turd that is sitting in the middle of the packed Children’s Museum.

I can see the family restroom: the sign says vacant. In a panic I stuff the girls inside, tell them to stay put, and dash back to the turd, which is miraculously still there and hasn’t been mistaken for a hunk of Baby Ruth by some unsuspecting kid. I pick up the turd with a sanitizing wipe, scrub down the floor with another, and then run back to the restroom.

Tinier paleontologist

Once inside, I discover that the “family” restroom is not your standard run-of-the-mill deal. It has two stalls, a changing table, three sinks, and three urinals about a foot off the ground. Apparently it’s built for the Brady Bunch.

Charlie, in the ten seconds I’ve been gone, has removed all three urinal cakes and is making a game of sticking her arm as far into the pipes as far as she can reach (little boys don’t flush urinals, by the way—I suspected this all along). I stare at her in amazement as she looks up at me, smiles, picks up a urinal cake off the floor, sticks the rim of its plastic cagey thing in her mouth, and walks into a stall. I run after her, yank the nasty urinal cake out of her gross little paws, and resolve that we are all taking 27 baths in rubbing alcohol when we get home.

Meanwhile, Lucy is running around in circles, leaving a trail of turds in her wake. I decide to corral her first, since Urinal Cake-Eater will only go for the gusto again if she’s not in my arms. I get Rabbit-Turd Pooper (do you like how my little angels have less charming names by this point in the story?) clean and in fresh clothes. I get Urinal Cake-Eater clean and in fresh clothes. I pick up the restroom, wash my hands 98 times, wash their hands 345 times, and douse us in hand sanitizer until we’re high from the fumes.

When we emerge from the bathroom I was off my high horse and back to (gross, putrid, stinky) reality. Being a mom can be completely gross. And just when you think you’re doing everything right, they’re leaving a Hansel & Gretel trail of turds through your favorite play area and trying to hold hands with China through urinal plumbing.

In the future I’ll think of that day and laugh. Just not today. Or tomorrow. But maybe in a few months, after several glasses of wine with my girlfriends. But for now, I just need another vacation.


  1. I think it was Jason that had a huge blow out diaper in the waiting area at the Met. We tried to change him right there, as there were multiple children to be corralled, and I remember the guard (who moments before had sniped at us for sitting on the ground) looking thoroughly irked. Ah poopy museum memories.

  2. Jenny, the way you tell this story is hilarious! You have to admit that pooping in the museum is great blog fodder. Maybe you will find this funny tomorrow. 🙂

  3. Oh, memories! Love this!

  4. Jonas has ALMOST convinced me that we might start trying for another bambino. You have just unconvinced me- thank you, woman, you’re my favorite person in the world right now;)

    • rainyd01 says:

      Two is MORE than twice the work. That said, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little girl to inherit your gorgeous shoe collection?:)

  5. I kept waiting for the smeared it on the archaeology exhibit part of the story. Great pictures.

    • rainyd01 says:

      Luckily the archeology was in Colorado, where we were vacationing, far far away from the rabbit poop:)

  6. Oh DANG. That story tops the time I was in the Law School Dean’s office, and Reed (who was constipated at the time, I should have known better) had a three-alarm blowout in the Ergo. It was so loud that the Dean made a slightly horrified face before I excused myself to the faculty bathroom which (naturally) did not have a changing table, or even a counter. I got to chat with several of my law school professors while I was scraping poop off of Reed and myself. Goody! I can’t imagine what that would have been like if I had TWO children with me. You’re a champ!

  7. Chrislyn says:

    Goodness…you are hilarious!! I started reading your blog pre-children (for the yummy recipes) and now I have a whole new appreciation for your kiddo stories. Thanks for sharing…it helps us other mommas know that we are not alone and you give us a good chuckle too!

  8. We got back from Minnesota on Tuesday. The woman sitting across the airplane aisle from my family (me, husband, four-year-old boy and eight-month-old boy) was a woman with her two kids (two-and-a-half-year-old boy and nine-month-old boy).

    She and I chatted for a bit during boarding. She was returning to Seattle on a solo parenting trip, and said that the kids had done very well.


    The whole ride back, the supremely overly tired baby alternated between crying and screaming. And her preschooler, having no awareness of his poor mother’s situation, alternated between demanding and meltdown mode.

    I believe at one point, the older boy must have soiled himself in some way. And to deal with it, the mother relented to the kindness of the stranger behind her in the bathroom line, who offered to hold the baby while the wardrobe change occurred. It took a very, very long time. And seated in the last row of the plane as we were — right in front of the bathroom — my husband and I could hear everything going on in their bathroom.

    When she finally emerged with her eldest in a new set of clothes, the flight attendants had to close the restroom. I can only imagine the state of the place.

    Meanwhile, the baby, the poor baby who was so SUPER tired yet unable to sleep (probably because of the vibes from his super stressed out mother), had nearly fallen asleep in the stranger’s arms. But he roused himself promptly upon his mother’s return, and recommenced the wailing.

    My kids were great travelers on this trip. My eldest even pulled his wheeled carry-on through the airport himself. And I AM SO THANKFUL. But for the grace of God, you know?

    • rainyd01 says:

      Oh my god. Makes you count your blessings for having such easy fliers! I feel awful for her. We too had my dad on our flights and Charlie would only fall asleep on him, not on us. Thank goodness for grandparents.

  9. Goldenboots says:

    I love this!

    My four kids are all grown up but this brings back so many memories of stuff we/they all did and now we have the grandchildren and are back to it all in reality!

    Thank you so much for giving me a really good laugh on a wet grey afternoon 🙂

  10. I am working on potty training our eldest daughter 33 months- I totally sympathized! The things we moms go through!

Speak Your Mind