Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Cookie


It all began with a plastic replica of a chocolate chip cookie. I believe it came into our home via a Melissa & Doug play-food set. My 11 month-old son has become fond of crawling around the house while toting it in his hand. He was doing just that one particular evening as he made his way into the guest bathroom.

It just so happened that my 3 year-old was completing her business around the time he wandered in. Finding her little brother’s presence disconcerting, she called for our assistance in removing him. Just as my wife grabbed him, he managed to toss the cookie into the bowl mid-flush. In defiance of each and every one of God’s natural laws, the cookie disappeared down the rabbit-hole.

Its journey was short-lived, as the bowl immediately began filling with excessive amounts of water. Thankfully, it stopped just before overrunning the rim. I gave everyone stern instructions not to use the toilet in my absence (I had to run and pick up a grocery order within the next 15 minutes) and I would address it when I returned.

I tucked my firstborn son and daughter into bed while my wife disappeared into the nursery to put our youngest to bed. Quickly grabbing my keys, I ran out the door to get the groceries. On my way home, I received a text from my wife indicating that my daughter had come back to the nursery concerned that there was “lots of water in the toilet.”

Surmising that our daughter was utilizing this unnecessary observation as an excuse to get out of bed, my wife sent her back to her room with a stern warning. I informed my wife that I was on my way home and would make sure that she was still in bed when I arrived.

Three minutes later, my phone rang. When I answered it, I was greeted by my wife shouting “There’s water everywhere! How do I turn this off?” Her questions were in danger of being drowned out by multiple weeping children and someone lamenting, “The cookie! The cookie!”

It appeared that my daughter had been experiencing some intestinal discomfort while I was at the grocery, and had used the toilet again. She then apparently held the flush lever down until she was in danger of being swept into the den by the current.

At the time of my arrival, the hall carpet was soaked and there must have been a half-inch of standing water on the bathroom floor. Quickly grabbing a shop-vac and an adjustable wrench, I waded into the fray. After getting up as much of the standing water as possible, I set about disconnecting the toilet.

If you have never done so, I can assure you that there is no graceful way to solo-lift an installed toilet in a confined space. I closed the door so that my family wouldn’t have to witness me attempt to dead-lift the equivalent of a porcelain birthing-ball.

Once the commode was clear of the bolts and flange, I quickly glanced down the sewer pipe to confirm that the cookie was not lodged. In this brief moment, several of my neighbors must have tandem-flushed the remnants of an ill-advised meal because I felt the air move just before the dry-heaves kicked in. I instantly though of the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy’s face melts off. It smelled like weaponized shame launched from a diaper-genie. 

Convinced that the cookie’s journey had ended prior to the pipe, I stuffed some plastic bags into the sewer connection and continued my investigation. I tipped the toilet forward before probing the trap for contraband. Meeting some resistance early on, I continued in this way until the cookie emerged. My victory was to be short lived.

Within a few moments, a reverse suctioning noise emanated from the S-bend as a rather sizable bowel-movement was liberated from its perch and found its way onto my shoes. It was here that I paused, turds still precariously balanced on my feet, and contemplated the interesting places that life takes us. Parenting is a perpetual series of humbling events, and there are few things as humbling as contemplating whether to shake poo off your shoes or abandon them and submit yourselves to a back-flow foot-bath.

Around this time, my daughter emerged and asked if I “saved” the cookie. In exasperation, I told her that the cookie had “seen things” and had to be put down. She would emerge requesting progress reports every quarter hour for the remainder of the process.

I mopped up all of the water left in the bathroom and then proceeded to tackle the carpet with a Hoover Steamvac. It is a wonderful machine to have, but sounds like a jet engine when powered on. I thought about waiting until the next day to tackle the carpet (since everyone in the house appeared to be asleep) but I really wished to avoid subjecting our flooring to an overnight fecal marinade.

So I fired up the carpet cleaner, and after a few moments, my daughter tapped on my shoulder and motioned for me to turn it off. Nearing the end of my patience, I turned off the carpet cleaner and gave her my full attention.

“Daddy?”

“What?”

“I just wanted to tell you that the carpet cleaner is loud.”

I advised her that, in the interest of self-preservation, she should refrain from further commentary and stay in her room.

Melissa and Doug better hope I never gain access to their corporate restroom facilities….

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