For you parents out there who have small kids that are just learning to use the potty – this may be a familiar tale.
My daughter has been potty trained for about 10 months now and when she made the switch and became diaper-less it went as smoothly as I think that this kind of thing can go. She fell in love with being able to go potty all by herself – and to this day once she does her business she exclaims, “I did it! I DID it!” She’s so proud of her poopies and pee-pees. Little children will often make the most innocent yet unbelievably funny/disgusting/and inappropriate comments. The other day she was so excited that she made a “snake” in the toilet. She pointed it out to me proudly with a huge excited grin on her face. That’s my girl.
So tonight, Courtney and I began to settle into our evening hang-out time once the kids were in bed. I was working on my mac and she was watching Design Star on HGTV, life was good and peaceful. But then, we hear Keira crying from the bathroom. Something was definitely wrong. You see, Keira wants to be a big girl so badly that she has recently stopped using her little potty insert seat. You know, the miniature toilet seat for tiny kids that fits onto our “big people” seat. If Keira were to really sit on a normal toilet like adults do she would find herself falling into the toilet bowl in a flash. Yet, this is Keira’s choice of seating durring her potty process. She chooses to hold herself up on the sides of the seat so she doesn’t fall in and all normally goes well. Well, tonight it didn’t go very well.
This time, tonight, she sat on the very front edge of the toilet bowl seat. This was NOT a sound strategy. She had to go #2 but didn’t have the clearance to the water bowl portion of the toilet … her booty was on the seat and not hovering over the water. We weren’t there for this part, we only witnessed the aftermath. In what can only be described as a play-doh fun factory kind of moment – her poop made it’s way FORWARD and not backwards, covering her and her clothes and our bathroom floor.
I’m not really writing this to tell you the dirty details. I know this is gross. The title of this post was a big warning for any sensitive readers. However, in a strange way these datails are relevant to this story. You see, Keira didn’t cry right away. She didn’t call for us to help when it happened. Instead she panicked, and tried to clean the mess herself. And in doing so… made the mess WAY worse. She must have used half a roll of toilet paper trying to wipe herself and the seat and the floor… and when she saw that the bowl was filling with toilet paper she tried to flush and remove the evidence. And, of course, the water backed up and nothing went down the hole. I’m sure in that moment she believed no matter what she did her situation was getting worse and she was helpless to fix it.
It was at this point that our precious two year old girl looked at her dirty hands, the messy bathroom, and the backed up toilet – and began to sob. Not the fake cry that you get when a child doesn’t want to go to bed or doesn’t want to eat their vegetables. This was a real cry. She was terrified of what she imagined would happen. She did NOT want anyone to see the mess she had caused. She was ashamed of the situation she was in. She thought her mom and dad were going to be furious with her and that we would tell her what a “bad bad girl” she was. Lucky for her, she was wrong.
My wife heard the cry first and made it into the bathroom. Courtney eased Keira’s mind and comforted her, I made my way in and helped her and told her we loved her and that accidents happen – that it was okay. At one point Courtney asked her “how long were you trying to clean before you called for us?” And Keira responded with tears in her eyes, “it was a really really long time!”
Maybe because I’m always trying to dialogue about God’s love in new and relevant ways, or maybe because I’m a sappy dad who is also a pastor; this experience made me think about my Heavenly Father in a new way. Once the dust settled tonight (after we gave her a shower and threw the messy stuff in the laundry) and we were able to hold our daughter whom we love more than words can say and rock her. I reflected on what it must have been like for her to be in that room, panicking, surrounded by the mess she had made, feeling stuck and hopeless and wanting to just hide the evidence and try to hide the truth from mom and dad, being reluctant to call out to me or her mother out of fear and shame…
This whole experience made me think … I wonder how God feels when we refuse to turn to Him for help when we’re facing a problem. When we, His messy children, try to clean our own filth, try to act like we an handle the crap in our lives all by ourselves, try to hold back the shame we have from sin we’ve committed all while doing damage control and trying to uphold and image or a lie that we’re perpetuating… and in doing so – making our life even more of a mess than it previously was. In these moments, what we really aught to do is cry to God. Maybe we could learn to call to Him sooner if we knew only him better. If we knew that from the very frist moment of our sin or our bad choice – that we can turn to Him and he’ll love us and forgive us, and help us to be restored and whole. He purifies us, making us clean in his eyes. He wipes our tears away, gives us rest, gives us peace.
I absolutely love being a Dad, and I cannot fathom how much God must love being a Dad. I know what kind of a flawed earthly father I am… and I cannot comprehend the kind of Good and Loving Father we have in our Creator God. All I can say is that I love Him and I am grateful he calls me His own.