The boyfriend and I enjoyed a lovely weekend alone in Palm Desert. We slept in, we swam in the adult only pool, we sipped cocktails, we took a three-hour nap…in short, it was extremely relaxing.
Too bad all good things must come to an end.
The drive from the desert into LA should have been relatively easy given that it was a Sunday around noon, not your typical high traffic time. This fact did not stop LA traffic from appearing, though. Oh no, it did not. Traffic materialized in West Covina and accompanied us all the way to Santa Monica, for no other reason than that the sun was shining.
Fine. No big deal. I can deal with traffic. It’s a given in LA. You just have to learn to brush it off.
So when Connor was handed off to me snotty and tired I accepted it as par for the course. I mean I hadn’t seen him in two days, he would of course be cranky. Again, that’s pretty much a given.
Things started to deteriorate from there. If you get queasy easily by bathroom stuff, this would be a good place to stop.
Connor refused to wait in the car while I went into the office building with his dad to use the restroom after three hours in the car. Well, not only did he refuse to wait in the car, he refused to wait outside of the restroom with his dad. In fact he screamed something that sounded remarkably like “I HATE DADDY” when I tried to hand him off so I could go pee. That was a nice family moment for the receptionist to enjoy while we stood in the middle of his dad’s office lobby. We may have scared that young man out of never having in children in just those 30 seconds. So I took Connor to the bathroom with me, as I’d done hundreds if not thousands of times before. I had hoped Connor would simply stand next to me in the stall gently sobbing while I used the toilet. No, Connor demanded to be held while I sat on the toilet. That’s right: I sat on the toilet, Connor sat on my lap. Fun.
Returning to the car I now had a wild animal in my arms, as the trip to the bathroom seemed to have unhinged Connor in some way. Time to improvise. The boyfriend would drive with Dodger (dog #2) in the front seat while I sat in the back with Connor and Penny (dog #1). I’ve driven with Dodger in the passenger seat many times before so I felt confident that this was a good solution.
I don’t know why I ever feel confident about any of my decisions because I am always wrong!
Connor immediately started crying, demanding that I go sit in my usual seat, the driver’s seat. Dodger was restless for some reason, twirling around in the seat, trying to get his snout out the tiny crack in the window. I merely instructed the boyfriend to drive!, hoping the children (both furry and human) would calm down once we started moving.
Eventually, after roughly five straight minutes of high-pitched crying, Connor calmed down, clutching my hand in his and asking for hugs. Happy sigh.
Yet Dodger remained fidgety. (Seriously stop reading now if you get grossed out)
Dodger is always an active dog, getting his nose in things where they don’t belong or trying to snuggle in aggressive and inappropriately timed ways. So when he kept trying to sit in the boyfriend’s lap on the way home, I wasn’t too surprised. Nor was I surprised when he literally came and sat on my lap in the back.
What did surprise me was the dog poop stuck to his tail when he came to sit in my lap. Gross, but he’s a dog! It happens. I just wondered why I hadn’t seen it there earlier. Hmm…
He was just as fidgety on my lap as he was in the front seat, so I pushed him back up there and kept an eye on him. There was something off.
The boyfriend was starting to get seriously frustrated with Dodger when he tried to sit in the boyfriend’s lap for the tenth time in about 2o minutes. And when a mysterious foul smell hit us, I knew something was wrong.
Dodger was getting more and more agitated. Twirling in the seat faster and faster. Suddenly he started frantically digging in the bottom of the front seat. Something was definitely wrong. I recognized Dodger’s distress signal.
I practically yelled at the boyfriend to exit at the next possible off-ramp. To just get off the freeway as soon as possible!! Thankfully the gods were with us and we managed to cross four lanes of traffic without anyone honking, flipping us off, or causing a major accident. I told him just to pull over in a neighborhood, we needed some grass stat!!
Pulling down the first street we came to and picking a random strip of grass in front of a largely untended house, I jumped out and grabbed Dodger from the front seat. He didn’t need to be told twice! He immediately hopped down and unleashed a torrent of horrific diarrhea. The seat where he had been twirling around, trying to keep it in was covered in a fine layer of liquified poop! I grabbed a bag of wipes and started cleaning everything, from top to bottom while the boyfriend tried not to vomit. Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about Dodger wandering off as he looked at me with shame-filled, sad eyes as he squatted pathetically in the grass.
Meanwhile, Connor is screaming his head off because I’ve gotten out of the car. No one is able to calm him down as I’m busy cleaning poop off of everything while the boyfriend is trying not to bring up his breakfast.
My only blessing at the moment was that the owner of the house didn’t come out and start yelling at me. I seriously would have lost it had that happened.
Instead, I ushered Dodger back to the car, using the rest of the wipes to clean his tail, bottom, and paws, leaving me one to wipe down my hands. I then make a bold attempt to clean up the poop in the grass with a random plastic baggy from the car. Given the liquid nature of the bowel movement this was nearly impossible and took way too long. Of course there were no trash cans anywhere on the street, so I have to climb back in the car holding the bag out of the window while Connor continues to wail, Dodger whimpers, and the boyfriend turns an unpleasant shade of green.
Thankfully there is an elementary school just down the street which means there has to be a damn trash can somewhere!!!
The boyfriend pulls up in front of the school going the wrong way to let me out. There is no way in hell Connor is going to let me leave the car without him again, so grabbing my sobbing child in one arm, carrying the poop bag as far away from me in the other, we trek into the school. Of course there are not trash cans in sight, so I have to randomly pick corners to turn and hope that a trash can will appear.
While a trashcan doesn’t appear, a large playground does. Connor hops out of my arms, forgetting all about the fact he couldn’t be separated from me as a matter of life and death a mere minute before, and runs toward the jungle gym. Even knowing it will be a battle to get him away from the slide later, I just don’t care in that minute. I have got to find a damn trashcan! It is taking every ounce of my will power not to unleash a stream of foul language on the world at large as I scout the area around the playground. Finally I spot a trashcan all the way across the campus, outside of a portable. It is lined, but I still silently ask forgiveness from whoever has to empty that trashcan out later.
Connor is contentedly going down the slide, when I return. I grab him under one arm before he can protest and head back to the car.
I know three things in that moment:
1. There is no way Connor is going to get back in his car seat.
2. Dodger needs to sit in the back or the boyfriend might kill him.
3. I still had poop on my hands.
As soon as I get back in the car with Connor, Dodger hops in the backseat. He needs his mama just as much as Connor does. So I make a decision, please don’t be horrified.
I unbuckle the car seat and push it in between the driver and passenger seats. I then buckle Connor and myself in with the same seat belt, with him on my lap. We are five miles from home and the only way we are going to get there is if I hold my child.
So that is what we did. For the last five miles to the house, I held my human child in my lap, while stroking Dodger’s now quiet form laying down next to me, while occasionally giving poor Penny a scratch for being so wonderful through this whole ordeal (she kept her head turned away from all of us, looking back, as if denying she was part of this crazy family).
And for the first time since Connor was handed off, the inside of the car is absolutely quiet and still.
Connor stops crying, nestling into my lap, resting his head on my chest. Dodger stops whimpering and starts to breathe normally. Penny waits patiently to be let out of this crazy car. And the boyfriend’s color slowly returns to normal.
When we pull into the garage, I usher everyone into the backyard. The dogs can frolic and pee. Connor can play on his own jungle gym. And I can go wash my hands 27 times.