Fearing the Stain: How Toddler Parents Assume the Worst

scrubbing-the-carpetIf you’ve had kids and pets long enough, then you’ve been programmed to spot a mess and fear the worst. The worst kind of mess is one that can’t be erased with cleaner, paint, or scrubbing. You know the kind of mess I’m talking about: the carpet stain.

We can see it across the room. Our nice carpet with a small spot of something that shouldn’t be there. Up to this point as parents, we’ve witnessed almost every disgusting thing imaginable, so we rapidly assume the worst-case scenarios.

First I’m thinking it’s permanent marker. Why do we keep Sharpies in our house anyway? We are practically inviting the little creatures to destroy our property. Oh, you guys are looking for the perfect item to ruin my carpet and my day? Well here’s some pitch black, nuclear war-proof ink for you…

But it’s not permanent marker. Still looks dark. Oh crap, blood stain. Who’s bleeding? Is my son presently coloring random parts of my home with an open scab? Did my dog chew a wart off her paw? Could this in fact be a bloody booger? ‘Cause that would be better. If the mucous to blood quotient is favorable I can remove that sucker in no time…

But no. It’s not a bloody booger or blood at all for that matter. Of course, it’s poop. Because that’s what we do in this family. We poop on the floor. Surely someone has simply reached into their diaper and executed a smear campaign upon our carpet. When was the last time we let the dog out? Yesterday? Anyway, this is certainly disgusting but seeing as how I’ve handled poop nearly every day since we started adding family members, I can take care of this problem before you can say “I smell poo.”

Now I am on my knees, bending down to inspect the blemish and expect the worse. And once in awhile, perhaps once in a lifetime, a glorious and unforeseen result is realized. It’s just a sticker. A problem I can take care of without having to hold my breath, or try to remember where I keep the spot remover, or engage in a regrettable confrontation with the child or beast responsible for the mess. This is a problem I can take care of in less than a second and move on with my life. I am giddy as…well…as a man reprieved from vigorous scrubbing duties aimed at ridding my house of one less excrement amiss.

Happiness for the parent can come in strange ways.


  1. Loved this one, Carson, and I’m glad you got a break this time. When our middle child discovered Sharpies (Why DO we keep them in the house)? She obliterated an entire wall. As Maureen and I repainted, we sang the following little song (with apologies to Santana):

    Got a black magic marker
    Got a black magic marker

    I got a black magic marker
    It’s tryin’ to make a devil out of me

    Turn your back on me, Mommy
    TURN your back on me, Mommy

    Don’t turn your back on me, Mommy
    I just might pick up my magic sticks


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