It was one of those days.
One of those days in which extra additives and unhealthy preservatives slowly danced their way into our Normal-Crazy Everyday. Deep in the throes of unpacking, brown cardboard boxes adorned every room of the house like the back of a UPS truck. One last-ditch load of laundry spun in the washer, and scattered suitcases lay open, waiting, hopeful for fuller contents for our upcoming drive north.
Frodo asleep for his morning nap (Praise Him! Praise Him!), Cancan let it be known to the world – a world that consisted solely of me and his Thomas the Train set – that he needed to spend some time on the back toilet, for an extended magazine-reading time if you catch my drift.
So I cheered him on from the kitchen, naively believing my two-and-a-half year old completely capable of taking care of bowel-movement business.
Maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee.
Maybe my back spoke louder than my brain at that time, bones hurting partially from a bad night’s sleep and partially from not boasting a twenty year old’s back anymore. [Gone are the nights of sleeping on the floor, tent-side …which begs the question, how do people actually camp after the age of thirty? Roasted painkillers over the fire for dinner?]
When I heard the toilet flush, I may have even smiled a little, I may have even brushed a tear of pride off the side of my eye.
But when I heard the “uh oh,” and the flush of the toilet a second time, I came running …running to the site of an entire toilet paper roll flushed down the porcelain bowl, along with a bowl full of murky, revolting water teetering dangerously toward its overflowing top.
“I wipe, Mama! I flush, Mama!” Beaming, he peered over the edge of the toilet bowl, fascinated by his New Toilet Creation, because what toddler wouldn’t be? Well, my, my, my, what have I done here? I just meant to go poo poo, but look at this beautiful work of water art I’ve created! World, watch out! World, rejoice in my inventive majesty!
“Cancan, get out!”
I, of course, became a rare breed of Monster-Mama-Delegator-Taker-Carer-of-All-Things-Messy-and-Utterly-Disgusting. Luckily I had the sense not to flush the toilet again, but I lacked the sense as to perfectly predict which of the 32 remaining unpacked boxes our damn plunger lay buried within.
“Um, Cancan stay here. I mean get out. But stay here, in the house. I’ll be right back!”
So I ran in yoga pants to our next door neighbor’s house, to the neighbor I’ve talked to a total of eight times since moving in two weeks ago. Because what new neighbor wouldn’t want to lend you their own McNasty Plunger?
I begged for Neighbor Paul to answer, but alas, he was probably living large the dream of retirement, basking in mornings free of toddlers and overflowing neighbor-toilets.
Running back to the house, I praised Cancan for not flushing again, for not attempting a new work of art in the back bathroom.
“Okay Baby, let’s go downstairs!”
“Downstairs, Mama?” Squealing, the little bugger became overjoyed that he too was finally allowed to partake of descending stairs, finally allowed to explored the uncharted territory known as the Deep, Dark Basement.
So while he explored new nooks and crannies, I searched unpacked boxes, cursing my being for not having simply written “plunger” on the side of a box. [Note to self: Write “plunger” on the side of a box next time you move. New note to self: Make unpacking plunger the very first thing you do next time you move. Note to self: Never ever move again, as you will therefore know where the plunger is for the rest of your live-long life.]
Then, with a Hallelujah and a Thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus, we found it. And as I began the Process of the Plunge, I also decided to indulge in a conversation with my boy who couldn’t understand why I’d ever decide to destroy his artwork.
“Cancan, I don’t want you to ever wipe without Mama or Dada. Do you understand?”
“It’s okay, Mama.”
“No, actually, it’s not okay. You don’t ever wipe without Mama or Dada helping you. Do you understand, Cancan?”
“It’s okay, Mama.”
And I began to lament the fact that I’d taught my children a grace-filled “It’s okay” response to Life when things are hard. Frodo cries at the top of his lungs in the car, and Cancan and I begin in the chorus we invented ourselves: It’s okay, it’s okay…. It’s okay, it’s okay… Mama or Dada accidentally drops a glass on the floor, but dropping something wasn’t purposeful and it wasn’t something we meant to do: It’s okay, it’s okay… Cancan tries his hardest to help carry dinner to the table, but milk spills on the floor and food spills over the edge of his plastic plate: It’s okay, it’s okay. Because we recognize that all of us – Mama and Dada, Cancan and Frodo, and all our fellow human beings – are trying their hardest here on this Sometimes-Hard Place called earth, and that accidents happen that will require nothing short of wild and crazy grace.
So after I further explained that emptying an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl is not okay, I thought further about Grace. Because I think this “It’s okay” response happens with God as well. Accidents happen and mistakes are made, faults and mishaps and purposeful reactions of anger are slung …but Grace and Grace alone, Grace without any additives, is offered in response.
It’s okay, it’s okay…. It’s okay, it’s okay…
Instead, he forgives.
Instead, he loves.
Instead, he flings grace at us, hurling it our way, chucking it toward us like a fast-pitch machine – t least that’s what I’m choosing to believe today.
So, hear it one last time: It’s okay, it’s okay …but don’t ever wipe without Mama and Dada helping you. Understand?
So, poop and artwork and attempting to borrow your neighbor’s plunger. And Grace and a God who says, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay…” even if we think there’s more to the grace-filled story. Your thoughts?