duct tape won’t hold my duck’s bottom

In ALL, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERS by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

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I need some serious help. At 3pm each day the sprouts go down for a nap. I sit outside their door sometimes listening. Waiting. Wondering. "Will she poop and then hold it like a lever today?" She digs for it as if it’s brown gold. It doesn’t matter if we duct tape her diaper closed. She gets in there and digs. She goes underneath, around the legs. She finds a way in. Then she grabs hold as if it’s a rope saving her from plummeting to her death. All this without a sound. I underestimate her sneakiness every time. All weekend long, we awoke to a shit storm, smeared on walls, on crib bars, on sheets, the carpet beneath the bed… clumps of it. And yes, even the curtains. We won’t discuss her actual body, her hair, and especially not her fingernails. I don’t know what to do. It’s not as if she doesn’t get plenty of loving positive attention from us all day long. It’s not as if we leave her alone in there for hours, abandoned. We tell her that behavior is wrong. We encourage the potty and sing, dance, and reward with stickers each time they sit on the thing with their pants down. She’s starting to at least pee on the potty, but neither of them have gone beyond that. I am beside myself and feel ill from all the cleaning products I’ve used to scrub down her prison of a bed. Why do NO parenting web sites cover this shit? Pun definitely intended.

According to their pediatrician, whom we of course consulted, it’s normal. It happens. It doesn’t mean we’re neglecting or giving too much attention. She’s not doing it for the negative reaction. We’ve tried everything from acting furious to mostly ignoring it, not giving her the satisfaction, simply putting her in a bath, not warm, not freezing. Not cozy fun playtime. According to their doctor, the best thing to do? Get a child to come over and teach them how to do it. Toddlers learn from watching older kids do it. So now I have to rent a kid to poop in my house. How exactly would I go about wording that on Craigslist? You know, and avoid jail time.

A YEAR AGO: Touring It Up
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  1. Oy vey!
    Well, it sounds like she poops at the same time every day.. right? Can you maybe move the naptime up or down by a bit, so the poop happens when Abigail is not in her crib?
    Otherwise, I would just sit in the nursery and watch. As soon as you see her trying to poop, come in and change the diaper.

  2. Ha! The craigslist comment was priceless. You might be amused to know that I recently came across a craigslist posting for a Malibu couple looking for a nanny/assistant for three children (well, the assistant was for the husband), to care for them from after school till bedtime.

    The going price? $35,000 annually. That breaks out to $5/hour per kid — far below California's minimum wage. Can you even imagine? That's just all kinds of wrong.


    It sounds as though you both are doing the right thing, and you just need to wait it out. I would definitely not refer to the behavior as bad, or somehow relate it to shame. Kids hold on to that kind of programming, sometimes for life.

    Ultimately, you need to just catch it just before it happens, and put her fanny on the potty so she knows where poop goes. Hanging out outside her door to wait to catch her in her ninja moment does not sound like fun, but I think you'll nip it in the bud if you can get there first.

    We've trained two, but we neither one wanted to decorate their rooms in this way. Good luck! It won't last much longer.


  3. While I know -to you, right now -this problem is far from funny but I had to chuckle as I read it cause it brought back many, many memories of my two younger kids -my son and the younger girl -when they were about 12-18 months or so. Both of them loved to finger paint with shit!
    If you put my son in his crib and didn't put long pants on him -jeans or pjs or shorts, he would poop and then paint the crib, the walls, whatever. My daughter on the other hand paid not a whit of attention to clothes as she would strip completely and then, fingerpaint EVERYTHING, including her body, face -you name it -with shit! Yes, it is very frustrating, indeed! Considering the girl just turned 33 yesterday, I can't remember if I did anything specific to try to stop this major event of hers, or her brother's either for that matter. But suffice it to say, eventually they both outgrew the poop paint fetish. Hang in there! Tomorrow -or next week -sometime in the near future, things will get better. In the meantime, stock up on cleaning supplies.

  4. This reminds me way too much of a post you did ages ago about Freud's theory about artists and their poop fixation…. something like that.

  5. How about one of those nanny-cam things so that you can get in there as soon as you see her digging?

  6. LAUGH! Oh my god. I know you're suffering with this problem and man I feel for ya but this was hilarious.

    I have no tips to give unfortunately. Video surveillance? God I feel for you. I would be dry heaving the entire time cleaning up that mess, and it would be really, really hard for me to control my temper and have patience. Does she have a poop pattern? Maybe keep track of the time of day she tends to dump so you will know it's coming, or watch closely after she eats?
    I'm at a loss here. I'm thinking positive non-shitty thoughts for you though.

  7. You could also try Gwyneth Paltrow's website: goop.com. I've heard that's got random shit on it too. Also, she talks about family stuff from what I hear.

    That's the stretch of my knowledge on this; I'm just a 27 year old single gal looking to head to NYC, and finding it everso hard. So, no help in the bigger pic am afraid.

    Do enjoy logging on to your site now-and-again. Especially posts about being in The BigApp. Cheers from London!

  8. Well, now that I'm the mother of an almost 3 month old, I can only begin to imagine what this would be like. I've had days when Rachel has coated me in spit-up, pee and poop all in a 15 minute time frame. At least she's still at an age when this is completely an accident. The good thing with kids is, like everyone else has said, all things are temporary. Til then, time to invest in industrial sized bottles of cleaning products. Good luck!

  9. Heres an idea: Punish her. Speak very sternly to her. This is no longer a baby and this is not normal behavior. Grow a pair and let her know this is NOT OKAY.

  10. LOL! Sorry to laugh at your poop crisis. My son is almost 3 and he has mastered the peepee. The poopoo, not so much. He tells me he is "scared of the waterfall." I think that means the toilet flush in toddler speak. He has his own potty but doesn't use it either. I have explained to him that the poo comes out his bumbum hole, gently lands in the water, and then we flush it down. Now, he can't seem to keep his finger out of his ass! So, we have a smelly finger issue and I'm always making him wash his hands. From what I hear, he's just experimenting and trying to figure out just where the poo comes from. Hopefully, he, and your two, figure this out soon!!!

  11. She is ready to be potty trained. Girls train at a younger age than boys, so train her first, without her brother. Let her in the bathroom while you poop and let her see the finished product in the toilet, you wiping, washing your hands, the whole bit! This is just another teaching opportunity! You are the one person she will learn best from. As far as her poop fetish… I think she is sending you clear signals that she wants the poop out of her diaper, that it annoys her too, and she doesn't know what else to do.

    She clearly has learned that going through life with a wad in your drawers is uncomfortable. But because she's still a toddler, she can't put 2 and 2 together just yet. So she plays with it!!

    She has the first 2; you teach her the second 2… And she'll finally go #2 (in the potty)!!
    Good luck. Oh and… Do have her help you clean it. That is a whole 'nother teaching opportunity in itself.

  12. Arielle – except that she IS a baby! I didn't even try to train until my twins were almost 3, or maybe even later. Could it be the stress of trying to get her to use the potty? I think the societal pressure of potty training before the kids are ready causes stress and makes it all take longer than if you just wait until it is more their idea than yours. So, I suggest backing off completely and don't even bring up the training angle – and go with a one piece outfit that she absolutely cannot get out of — zipped up the back or something. PUnishing her for pooping just seems like it will cause all kinds of problems until she is around 30.

  13. Preschool finalized my son's potty training..watching the other kids, I guess. I didn't push him, though. They'll go on the potty when they're damned ready, and not one minute before.

    Can you put a new toy in her crib for her to play with instead of the poop? One of those aquariums? A new distraction?

    I feel for you!

  14. You tried taping up the diaper…how about her hands? Something like mittens when she goes to sleep? If you make it more inconvenience for her to get at it, that might break the cycle.

  15. damn….she's still doing it? You guys are being a bit too soft on her then. Time for time-outs. Also….I agree with the sleep sack Idea. Make sure you pin the zipper down in the back. If she manages to get the safety pin off….first of all, you hve a genious and second of all she'll probably prick herself which will make her cry and voila….now there's no poop on the walls.

  16. How exactly would I go about wording that on Craigslist? You know, and avoid jail time.

    "Seeking below average height individual who will poop for cash."

    Times are hard Could work. Yeah, like Julie, this post cracked me up and grossed me out at the same time, and this from someone who's on daily patrol of 3 litter boxes.

  17. Making her help you clean it up sounds like a good idea. I think all kids smear it around at least once! Try to ignore it so it's not a way for her to punish you, just get her to help clean it up. As for potty training, when they are ready, they will do it themselves. When it's done too early, it's just mom who is trained. I started my first child too early, she had an accident and it was a complete setback, so we quit. When she wanted to start preschool at 3 1/2, she found out you couldn't wear diapers, and trained herself in less than a week. I always thought T. Berry Brazelton was the genius pediatrician, loved his book Touchpoints, everything he said was true for my children/family.

  18. Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not a parent. And my babysitting days are long over. But what about putting her in footie pyjamas (I know you're in TX–turn up the A/C) and sewing the zipper shut? Surely she couldn't reach down through the neck hole… You know you'll laugh about this someday, but if I were you I'd be wanting to send her back right about now! (Make sure you recount this gem in 60 years when she's picking out your nursing home. Hey, you could always threaten to emulate her toddler behaviour if she and Lucas chose a less-than-stellar institution…)

  19. As the parent of 4 children, three of whom have significant disabilities, I've been right where you are. Your pediatrician is correct – it's not an unusual behavior. The good news is that my kids are now 18, 18, 16 and 14 and they no longer engage in that behavior :)

    The thing that worked best for me – putting one piece clothes on them backwards.

  20. I would watch on nannycam and get to her as soon as she starts up and change her. i would do whatever i had to do to prevent this after the first episode

  21. I'm telling you, Stephanie, I went through the same thing with my daughter (only it wasn't just at naptime – it was all day long. If she was out of my sight for two seconds, I knew what I would find. I don't know where all the poop came from!)Anyway…stock up on fingerpaints and play-dough and let her go to town – ignore the age warning this time. It's probably just a texture thing. (I apologize if someone else already said this – I didn't have time to read all the comments.)

  22. I found potty training to be an absolute nightmare. Nothing worked until my boys were ready. Each at age 3 1/2. Not a day sooner. At one point, I thought we had success and my son would regress two months backwards. It was really, really, really frustrating. Eventually, kids will figure it out. They will do it when THEY are ready! Oh, and as for night time potty training, I never bothered with that. I just continued to have them wear pullups at night until they were in kindergarten. Then there was never anything negative about wetting the bed — becasue it didn't happen. Fortunatley, they didn't mind wearing the pull ups at night. Good luck :)

  23. I agree with the idea of a video monitor. They're like $100 and it sounds like it would save you a ton in cleaning products :)

    HOWEVER – if it were me I'd be taking them out of a crib. My daughter was in a toddler bed by the time she was 15 months (you use a crib mattress, but it's low to the ground and they can get in and out. Chances are she's more likely to just walk out of the room when she wakes up instead of having to entertain herself in the crib. Plus sometimes the novelty of somthing new distracts them long enough that they forget about the problem behaviour.

    Also, if you're potty training – DON'T USE PULLUPS!! The kids learn nothing when they have them on. Simply put them in underwear. They will go in their pants consistently for a week, but then they will get better with every passing day. Inside of 2 weeks you'll be 80% of the way there.

  24. – sleep sack definitely a good idea – my 2 1/2 year old sleeps in it. btw he's potty trained (during the day of course) but he is in daycare and was exposed to potty and i guess is just one of those independent toddlers who want to do what other more advanced kids are doing. we never forced him to do it. also although we started by giving him a cookie everytime he used the potty apparently it is not a good idea to reward a kid for what all of us humans do, namely use the potty … it does sound like a nightmare waking up knowing you have to face the sh.t every morning. bon courage!

  25. I've worked with kids for years but I'm childless, so there's that. But I love Antoinette's answer – warm and funny and actually makes perfect sense from an angle I'd never considered.

    I hate to call anyone out, but "let her poke herself with a safety pin"? That smacks of a "serves you right, kid!" response to a behavior that is, in fact, completely normal for toddlers, not to mention that there's no way she would connect that consequence with her intentions. "Ow, that shiny thing on my clothes hurt my finger – I better not dig around in my diaper" isn't a logical conclusion for anyone to draw, let alone a toddler.

  26. And I gotta say, I totally agree with Kris on avoiding Pullups. I'm sure they've worked well for some, but I worked for years in a classroom of 2-3 year olds, and Pullups simply do not compare to putting the child in real underwear, keeping a super-close eye, taking them to the potty every fifteen minutes (literally), and cleaning the carpets after a month.

  27. one of mine had a diaper-removal phase recently and i thanked GOD every time i went in there and there was no poop. [knock knock knock]. if she likes to play with it, i don't know that cleaning up will do the trick. it might make it more fun. mine love to clean. and if you add poop, well, it sounds like a toddler party. maybe a video monitor will help you get to her before it's everywhere.

  28. I had a hard-to-potty-train kid. At age 3 years and 3 months, nothing, not interested, angry if I even suggested it. A friend asked me to keep her 5 year old so she and her husband could fly to another state and house hunt. I moaned at the time…everyone knows where this is going…best thing ever. At the end of the weekend, my stubborn goober wasn't even thinking or not thinking/deciding or not deciding. He was just doing it. He followed the bigger kid constantly, in everything, to the puddle, to the swings, to the potty. He was 'bellying up' to the pot without a thought. He wasn't without accidents, but that was a turning point and it was no diapers from then on, full time.

  29. The way my son learned was by going every couple of hours(which is what they do in daycare programs, they line them all up every few hours and make them go sit on the toilet). Just make them sit on the toilet, if they go 1 or 2 then reward them(as you have stated with stickers etc.). But basically a week or less of going every couple of hours they will be trained to go in the bathroom, its all about routine.
    Good luck!

  30. I would move the nap either earlier or later so that you can catch when she is ready to go. If it is happening at a consistent time every day.
    Also, maybe bring the potty into her room to show her that this is where the poo belongs not anywhere else and when she has to go- to call you to go on the potty. Stay with her through a couple of the "naps" so that you can put her right on the potty.

  31. Put her in footsie pajamas and turn the sucker around! Put a safety pin at the top holding the zipper in place so she can't take it off.

    Having her help you clean it? She's smearing it!! She'll just think it's more play time with mommy, only now we've got soap bubbles too.

    Good luck.

  32. It happened with my kid.. once. I was so horrified… my natural reaction was to shout 'WHAT DID YOU DO?!?! WHAT DID YOU DO?!?" I then ran out of the room.. grabbed the phone.. called my husband and freaked out to him on the phone.. shouting about how there was shit 'ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! IT'S DISGUSTING!! i DON't EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN.' I went on and on.. moreso just kneejerk venting my freak out to him. He.. of course.. was like 'Uh.. I'm sorry. I wish I could help you. I'm at work.'

    But.. my son witnessed this whole freak out.. and.. voila.. it never happened again. While I didn't yell at him.. it was clear it was bad behavior (which I then told him after I hung up and calmed down). I think they realize the consequences.. and his seeing me so horrified and upset.. made it a one time occurance.

  33. Consistent patience! And mini m&m's. Before naptime sit her on the potty for as long as it takes to go. Supply books to read and sit with her or just outside the door. Sit with her and don't say anything unless she asks if she can get up. Don't explain why, simply say she needs to go potty. Use different bathrooms so she doesn't associate one with a punishment. Rotate people that sit with her. She is trying to dominate you, and it sounds like she's doing a great job.

  34. I so know this is NOT funny, but I am just chuckling inside. Duct tape was my savior and all I can say is, HOLY CRAP about all the crap!!! She's a determined little bugger, huh? This means nothing because you're living it, but I swear to God it WILL end at some point. No advice from me as thankfully, none of mine were 'diggers'. (although I Did catch my girly one time sitting in the kitty litter 'playing' Talk about gross. I cut her nails so far down they were raw. And I desperately wanted to get her a mouth transplant!) Maybe take pics? Seriously, take pics. It will be the PERFECT revenge for when she's sixteen and knows everything. That way you can flash those pics and tell her you've taken enough of her sh*t to last a lifetime. And… you'll have the pics to prove it. Revenge is a dish best served cold. :)
    Good luck, seriously. I'm sooooooo happy to be done with all that potty stuff.

  35. As a mom to three I agree with the creative suggestion of putting onesies on backwards, AND having her help clean up!

    My only experience with this was with a 30 year old man with serious developmental delays. He did it for sexual gratification (fingers up the anus). Holy SHIT that was not fun to clean up, let me tell you..

  36. OMG, I don't know what's funnier, the situation or the suggestions. Suck to be you. :)

  37. My son used to do the same!! So we gave him a mini sleep sacks and put it on backwards so he couldn't open the zipper. That worked for us. He never did it again. Ofcourse at first he had to get used to the sleep sack but it is so comfortable that my daughter of 1 year also sleeps in it. We have them here in Holland in different sizes and for different weather. My son is now 3,5 so it's not a problem anymore.
    Good luck! Hope you find something that works for you!

  38. This may sound completely crazy but what if after you put her diaper on you put on a pair of pants (like yoga style kids pants). Then over that you place a short sleeved leotard or something similar to that. I know it sounds completely bonkers but that might prevent her from getting in there because the leotard would be blocking the pants from coming down.

    Just a crazy suggestion. Love your blog!

  39. Craptacular events happened at our house ALL the time. We put him in overall's or full body footed PJs with a diaper cover and we'd put the diapers on backwards. It at least made it more difficult.

    I hope it gets better sooner than later!

  40. hi.
    i don't have kids or much insight; but I think the one commentor had a good concept. That your little one knows she doesnt want to sit in poo; so she gets rid of it. Potty train her, and she won't play in the poo. If shes pooing the same time each day, start with poo time on the toilet with her (after lucas is put down). its alone time with mommy, potty training, and until she starts pooin in the potty; have her help clean it up.

    It sorta sounds lke punishment to make her have to sit in it.

  41. I had one who did that. I got pajamas with feet, put them on backwards, and zipped it up the back. We then pinned the back in place.

    It was horrible and awful and disgusting. You have my sympathy.

  42. Mine threw doody balls into his twin brother's crib. Thankfully, he didn't think they were little malted balls. I'd go with the video moniter.Good luck.

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