We all knew that kid. It started one day when he was afraid to raise his hand to ask to go to the bathroom. Then before he knew what was happening, he couldn’t move from his chair because the whole thing might let loose. He sits there, squeezing his cheeks together, holding it in. Mrs. P asks his to come join circle. He shakes his head, she asks again. He gives her a pleading look, but she says “right now.” He thinks he can handle it. He thinks maybe no one will notice. He slides out of his chair, but as soon as he stands up his bowels let go. His worst nightmares are realized as he becomes The Classroom Pooper.
The poor kid never lives it down. He can’t. No matter how many cupcakes or valentines or buckets of Halloween candy or hollow bunnies he brings into class, he is The Classroom Pooper. In third grade he switches schools, he and his parents figure he can start over, no one will know him there. They want to teach him a lesson about not running away from his problems, but they know that the problem of being labeled The Classroom Pooper is bigger than all of them, bigger than philosophy. But unknown to The Classroom Pooper, or his parents, the new school is the same little school that asshole Sebastian switched to back in first, and the moniker is back. The Classroom Pooper is The Classroom Pooper for life. Or at least for all of primary school, then he’s shunned in high school even though no one can remember why, but he uses all that adversity to his advantage and goes on to be monstrously successful.
I hesitate to write this. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed of myself, of whatever I did to make the nightmare a reality. But I’m pushing through, because my kid’s classmates can’t read, and I’m basically anonymous among the cool parents contingent. Or maybe I’m just the disengaged-seeming asshole parent who keeps forgetting to bring in the permission slip and my allotment of paper towels. Either way, I have a great fear, worse suddenly than my previously greatest fear (which was fire).
I think my son is The Classroom Pooper.
It started when he came home from the third full day of school in his emergency pants. My husband had done pick-up, and I didn’t see the discarded plastic bag containing that morning’s pants and soiled underwear until I got home. I asked C what happened, he said he got in trouble, he said he had an accident, we worked through it, and I thought that was the end of that. We went through the weekend, and the next school day came. C didn’t want to go, but I was encouraging and he powered through. I went off to work.
About 11:30 I got a call from the nurses office. He’d had another accident. This time there seemed to be some intentionality to it, as he’d removed it from his pants and shared it with the room, specifically a set of blocks. Apparently it was pretty gross, and I had to come get him. When I arrived at the school he was so glad to see me. He said “mommy I missed you so much!” I talked to Mrs. P. She told me that the previous incident had been more than just being a little late to the potty. Mrs. P thought it had been more of an intentional thing too. To his credit, when Mrs. P asked the room who had done this horrible thing, he said “I did it!” He said it gleefully apparently, and this seemed to tick Mrs. P off a little. She doesn’t know him well enough yet to know that he typically says negative things in a gleeful way. My mom posits that he wants to soften the blow.
I know everyone says this, but he’s never done anything like purposeful poop accidents before at home, and never since. Alright, there may have been a few angry pees, or can’t-leave-this-train-track-half-built-while-I-go-pee type accidents. But in the pooping department, in fact, it’s a whole struggle to get him to go at all. Making sure he poops before school has become a priority, pretty much by any means necessary, without making a huge deal out of it, if that’s even possible.
It’s been over a week since that last time. I thought it was behind us. Mrs. P said it hasn’t happened again, although she doesn’t seem to think he’s quite the dear angel I do. I get that. Teachers don’t have to provide unconditional love; it would be weird if they did. But together we seemed to chalk it up to the first few days of school in the kid’s Entire Life, and have let it go. Or maybe that was just me.
Then today, at drop off, he sat down next to some kid on the line-up bench in the flower pot yard. C made some attempt at conversation, telling the kid about how he’d lost his Captain America shield but then we found it in mommy’s closet. The kid seemed interested for a second, then said “no pooping in the classroom today.” C said “yeah.” He said it with no glee at all. I wanted to say “C’mon kid, that was a whole fucking week ago. Can we just get over it already?”
The kids all lined up. C stood at the back of the line with Mrs. K, the classroom assistant. I gave him a kiss, and off he went.