This was Took, sitting in her carseat after hours of driving from Estes Park on our way home. We were somewhere in western Kansas, near Hays. I looked at Thomas; he cocked a brow at me. We were hauling ass, desperate to put the seven-hundred-odd miles of the trip home behind us, and all Took had been wanting to do for the last three hours was run. “I run,” she’d kept repeating, oh-so-sweetly. “Daddy?” she’d ask. “I run?”
But somewhere along the way, her tune changed. “Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom,” she now chanted from her carseat. “I poop. I poop. I poop.” (Notice that she addresses him when she wants to run, and me when she has a poopy diaper. Mom life. Sigh.)
There was no smell in the car, but that didn’t mean anything – sometimes those sneak-attack poops are the worst. Up the back and around the track, and trust me, in a car-seat? A poop like that ain’t fun for nobody.
“We better find a place to stop, just in case,” I said to him.
“Starbucks?” he asked.
“I’ll check,” I said, grabbing my phone.
(Poor Starbucks. Your bathrooms are way cleaner than gas-station bathrooms, which means that when the Shafer’s need to stop off somewhere, we are going to HUNT YOU DOWN.)
I was skeptical as to whether or not we’d find one. I mean, we were in Hays, KS. Literally the middle of nowhere. I was pretty sure even Wheat Jesus (my fellow Kansans know what I’m talking about) couldn’t help us find what we needed.
But then, MIRACLE! Maps on my iPhone showed that there was a Starbucks in Hays! I quickly asked Maps to route us there, and we were soon on our way (with me dreaming of a latte and a chocolate croisant)…
…to the Fort Hays University campus. Where I’m sure there is a Starbucks during the school year, but during the summer? Out of luck, suckers! Now we faced a choice: Go find a gas station and pray the bathroom wouldn’t be a terrifying rectangle of filth, or change her diaper picnic-style in the grass.
We found a shady spot on campus and parked. Took’s anthem switched from “Mom, I poop!” to “Daddy? I run! I run! I run!” almost immediately, her little legs kicking wildly as the Hubster pulled her out of her carseat. She was squealing in a pitch that by all rights should have shattered the glass of the mini-van’s windows. Kudos, Chrysler, for making your windows toddler-screech-proof. “I run! I run! I run!”
“Not yet,” he said. “Let mommy change your diaper.”
Let mommy change your diaper. I snorted and gave him a look that said YOU OWE ME FOR THIS. He grinned.
It was all she could do to hold still while I stripped her down on a blanket in the grass…and wouldn’t you know it? Nothing. Not even a little splatter-art from a less-than-confident toot.
“I run!” she pleaded.
“Just a little,” I said, pulling her britches back on. She was off like a shot the second I let go.
There were tears when we put her back in the car, and I can’t blame her. The stretch of I-70 from Denver to Salina can be brutally monotonous. Even with the twenty-seven DVD’s your big brothers packed.
“I sad,” she said, cradling her stuffed chipmunk who she’d actually named Sad. Only two and she’s already soooo dramatic. “I sad,” she repeated, stroking it’s fur. “You Sad. Us sad. I run. I poop.”
The miles ticked by and the sun began to set, lighting the sky on fire behind us. Her whimpers continued for a full forty-five minutes until they turned into full-on tears. “I sad!” she repeated, on a loop now. “You Sad. Us sad. I run! I poop!”
“Uh, Mom?” my oldest called from the back. “I think she’s serious.”
“I know she’s sad, Liam, but there’s nothing I can do about it. We have to get home. We can’t stop every hour for her to run.”
“No, I mean, I think she pooped. Don’t you smell that?”
I turned to look at him, and was hit in the face by a wall of stench that could have rivaled any feedlot in the country. I KID YOU NOT. How I’d missed it that long is beyond me.
We zoomed past a green sign that announced the next town was in 42 miles. “Can she last that long?” the Hubster asked, gagging a little as he said it. “Nevermind,” he answered himself, rolling down all four windows and pulling the car over.
A herd of cows was grazing near the fence. Their moos were low and content, and who could blame them? The grass was emerald, the sky a thousand different colors, and the breeze was cool and sweet. It was a perfect evening. Perfect, you know, save the diaper that less than an hour ago had been pristine and light as a cloud. Now it was bulging as if the entire contents of the Hoover Dam had been magically transported into its confines.
“You want Daddy to change you?” I asked her, inwardly grinning, very much enjoying the fact that the Hubster was going to get stuck with the real bomb after he’d tried to pass the first one off on me.
“No!” she stated. “Mommy poop.” She lunged for me, throwing herself out of his arms and into mine.
The Hubster’s smile was wide, making the whiskers of his beard stand at attention. “Jerk,” I said, taking her from him. “You officially owe me a foot rub.”
“Sure, honey.” It’s summertime and the living is easy for the dad who gets out of poop duty.
I got down to it, grateful I’d thought to lay out a sweater on the seat before I started changing her. Up the back and around the track and my goodness she’d done a thorough job of things.
A few minutes later she was clean again and I was emptying the entire contents of my beach-scented hand sanitizer onto my hands. FYI, beach-scented hand sanitizer + Hoover Dam Diaper ‘Splosion DOES NOT = Beach Smelling hands. Not high tide beach, anyway. Low tide, maybe.
I turned to The Hubster who had Took perched on one hip, showing her the cows.
“I moo?” she asked him.
“Moo,” he answered.
She grabbed his beard and pulled his face toward hers, puckering for a kiss. I wrapped my soiled sweater in a plastic bag.
We drove home.