No Socks, but Full Service

With the mild weather this winter, we’ve been seeing a lot of the various parks and playgrounds around town.  I usually prefer Brookdale Park because we can walk there easily, but my kids have fallen in love with Edgemont Park – or “The Goose Poop Park.” It really is full of goose poop, at least in the grassy areas.  Luckily, said poop is filled with hay, and it’s easy to shake or scrape off the bottom of little shoes.  Last week, during one of those lovely 50 degree days we had, I had the chance to see a different kind of poop there: less grassy, more entertaining.

My kids were playing around on the spiderweb climber when I saw the look of defeat on her face.  She had arrived a few minutes before with a friend, four kids between them. The kids immediately ran for the slides and ladders, and the moms started chatting about photography and portraits and visiting more often.  Soon they drifted apart to check on the younger children, and that’s when it happened.  Her shoulders slumped; her chin fell to her chest.  Then she took a deep get-yourself-together breath, looked up, and said, “Okay, Honey. Come on down. No! Don’t sit down! Just come over here.”

My youngest has recently finished potty training, so I knew exactly what was up.  The kid had pooped her pants.  I had nothing to offer, no wipes, no tissues, and I knew enough not to make a cute remark.  I watched as they exited the playground gate and then stopped.  The mom looked around, presumably for a place to clean up.  No bathrooms were open, and she had a kid still on the playground.  I could practically see the thought bubble above her head: “What do I do? Leave? Pack ’em all up four minutes after we got here?”  She decided not to, and headed to a trash can on the side of a bike path.

Kneeling down, she gave her daughter a hug and said something with a nod.  Then she took off the kid’s shoes and pulled down the toddler leggings. Oh! Look away! Yep, definitely not as easy to clean as goose poop.

from The Disillusioned Taxonomist

Again, I saw the thought bubble appear as she scanned the playground for her friend.  Would her friend have wipes? An extra pair of pants?  Where the heck is she?  Argh!  Off came the underpants, and there stood the three-year-old, mooning the geese who didn’t think twice about leaving their own excrement behind.

And then wow.  Wow. The mom took her own shoes off, removed her socks, and used them to clean her kid’s bum. First one black argyle sock, then the other.  Poopy underpants, poopy socks, and the lucky napkin she had apparently found in her pocket all went into the trashcan.

Crisis averted, the sockless mother returned her daughter’s pants and shoes to their proper places (the kid’s socks never came off), gave the cherub another hug, and whispered something in her ear.  The toddler ran back to the playground with renewed enthusiasm.

The mom never looked back; she walked resolutely into the playground, holding her hands askew. As she passed me, I gave her a thumbs up and she cocked her eyebrow, daring me to challenge her parenting choice.  I didn’t. Heck, I was impressed!  When she found her friend, she was given squirts of anti-bacterial gel for her hands, and then the chatting resumed with shrugs and laughs and “What are you gonna do?”

I have to ask, What are you gonna do?  Is it worth packing everyone up and going home? Or are a couple of socks and a pair of underpants worth a beautiful day in the park?



About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. #RESIST
This entry was posted in Parenthood, People are Good, random observation, Suburban Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to No Socks, but Full Service

  1. Erica M says:

    She must be one of those moms with a clean car interior. I’ve got old Happy Meal napkins, nine mismatched socks and three ragged changes of clothes stuffed in various corners of the backseat. I admire her ingenuity and love the encouraging hug she gave to Little Miss PoopyPants.

  2. kvetchmom says:

    What a great post! I love people who are flexible and kind in their parenting style. I’ve used a glove to pick up dog poop when I’ve forgotten a bag, and I’ll definitely keep that sock idea in my back pocket. Great thinking. I love that you gave her a thumbs up!

  3. Now that’s thinking on your feet…
    I have been in that situation and never thought to sacrifice my socks. My kids, socks maybe…

  4. January says:

    Great parenting story! That is totally something that would happen to me (or will likely happen to me in the near future) so I will most definitely keep this story in mind. Or just make sure to remember wipes and an extra pair of underpants every time I leave the house.

  5. Lenore Diane says:

    I barely know you, Word Girl. You don’t mind if I call you Word Girl, right? 🙂
    I made a picnic for the boys – we were having a Mommy and boys night at a small park at an elementary school. We get to the playground, I bring out the food and set things up, and my 4yr old says, “I have to go potty.”
    I look around. No one else is at the park. I tell him to go in the woods. “But Mom,” he says. “I have to poop.” *sigh*
    I was not about to pack everything up and head home, so … yep, I sent him in the woods to poop. I had wipes and bags, so I made sure nothing was left behind. Still, he pooped in the woods.

  6. Kate says:

    I really can appreciate this story. Shortly after potty training my son I decided to head out to the store. It would be a first attempt in big kid pants. He was excited and so was I. While driving he had peed & pooped in his pants, only it wasn’t an easy clean up job either. Once I got to the store I realize what had happened. I never batted an eye or said a harsh word to him. I just cleaned him up, threw the underwear in a bag to be thrown away and pulled his shorts back up & continued about our day. This is how we moms roll and I would have given her thumbs up too!

  7. This is such a great story! What a problem solver. I love moms like this. Waddya gonna do? I’d probably use my socks too…but like Erica said before me, I’ve got so much crap (ha! pun intended) lying around the floorboard of the minivan, there’d probably be some napkins to spare. This post made me smile.

  8. Katie says:

    Awesome! You can’t help but admire a mom like that. I think it’s great what she did. A little icky maybe but great. And I loved that she seemed to give her little girl encouraging hugs and whispers. Despite the poopy socks, that’s just sweet. 🙂

  9. heidi says:

    That is awesome. I mean, really awesome. My kids are way past the potty-training stage, but just that she would be so great and kind to her child like that…I’m inspired. Thank you, I needed this.

  10. Kerstin says:

    What a trooper that mom was!
    I hope they were cotton socks, works much better with those – thank god she was wearing socks, imagine she would have had to take off her undershirt or something like that!
    I love how you wrote that she never looked back 🙂

  11. How resourceful that mother was, good on her! I hope that if this ever happens to me, I’ll be as quick with my thinking as she was.

  12. mamamzungu says:

    OH man, I feel for that woman and admire her creativity and perseverence! Too bad she assumed people (you?) were judging her. I think most would only have sympathy for her predicament. This story really epitomizes the selflessness of motherhood. Great post!

    • You know what? That brings up the “judgment” issue in a really useful light. There’s so much out there about “THEY are judging me!” but perhaps it’s really ourselves who do our own judging – and then assume everyone else is doing it too.

  13. Ado says:

    Fantastic! Fantastic mothering and thanks for reporting on what’s going on at Goose Poop Playground! The thing that is really sweet here is your quiet, supportive response – and that thumb’s up you gave that mom. Normally something like that would go unnoticed – I’m so glad you wrote about it. (-:

  14. Love this. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. And I’m glad you gave her the thumbs up. 🙂

    We salute you, sock-as-toilet-paper-public-poop-cleaner-up-mom.

  15. stephanie says:

    I love this! I love that the mom used what was at hand, and that she gave the kid a couple of hugs. Good for her. Poop happens, as the saying goes. Oh, I didn’t just say that, did I? I feel a little better, actually, as I had a similar experience, though not in public (a changing table in a bathroom at a swimming pool). I chalked it up to being ill prepared as an aunt, and not a mom. Sort of comforting to know that it happens to moms too. Fun to read!

  16. Love this mama and your sharing this story. To not let her child feel humiliated and encouraging her to show her all make mistakes and sometimes you just take off your socks, wipe your bum, pull up your pants and get back on the playground. Such a great post…

  17. woah, brava mama! I don’t know that I would have been that cool about it. Nor would I have thought about my socks! I’m learning over here! {things I hope to NEVER put in place 🙂 }

  18. farrah says:

    I loved this. It’s hard for me to imagine NOT having wipes at the ready (even though I do tempt fate by not bringing a diaper bag around anymore- even though I have 3 in diapers. Did I mention I was reckless?) but I would hope I would find a solution like this mom. I will sock this away (no pun intended) for when I need it…

  19. Impressive move on her part, and a nice rendering on yours. I hope she comes across your blog someday!

  20. I’m sure this happened to me and one of my kids when they were not yet toilet trained…but I must have blocked out such a horrible experience. I’m trying to imagine what I would have done. I probably would not have thought to use my socks as wipes. That lady was resourceful. I too salute her, sock-as-toilet-paper-public-poop-cleaner-up-mom.

  21. She. Is. A. Superhero. Of the best kind. Thank you fro sharing this. It actually made my day. Ellen

  22. Stacey says:

    Oh my goodness! I’ve never seen that technique before, but she sounds like my hero!! Great post!

  23. christina says:

    oh WOW…. WOW!! good for that mom!! brilliant. i honestly would’ve never thought of that, i don’t think. i have a 2 year old and we’re nowhere near PTing for real so this post comes at a great time; it will stay with me for a while now- just like an extra package of wipes and change of clothes for her. 😉

  24. Wow! She is like the MacGuvyer of moms….I would never have thought of my own socks. As they say necessity is the mother of invention…and she was the total mother of invention here!

  25. Oo oh oh I love this and I want to be friends with the Mom that rolled with the punches!!

  26. suzy016 says:

    This is awesome! I hope I have the same kind of grace in that situation!

  27. So many things to love about this story. The fact that it is a piece of non-fiction is probably one of the most heart-warming things about it. I love that you shared it here. I honestly wish I had more to say about it, but I now am distracted with dreaming about a land where parenting is divine and geese roam freely among the gentle.

    • I don’t want to destroy your dream, but the geese are routinely harassed by children and dogs. I’m happy to see it though; I’ve cleaned enough of the goose poop from shoes to not give a fig about those geese!

  28. Bridget says:

    Ha! Been there, so many times. It’s nice to know I’m not alone:)

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