Wanted: Room-sized autoclave

I love my children.

I love love love love my children.

There is nothing my children could do that would make me stop loving them.

No matter how digusting or gross my children sometimes are, I will never falter in my love for them.


I’m going to try to tell you this without gagging more than a few times. If you are squeamish, GO READ SOMETHING ELSE. I mean it. You’ve been warned.

So. Um. Where to begin? At the beginning, I guess.

My children can be somewhat forgetful. Chickadee often loses things. Monkey frequently forgets how to read. You know, the standard kids things. And lately, they’ve both taken up a fabulous new trick.

Go on, GUESS!

If you guessed “they forget to flush the toilet,” you are correct! Don’t you wish you lived at my house?

With Chickadee, this becomes an issue when she doesn’t flush in the upstairs bathroom right before the kids go to their dad’s house for the weekend. Twice, now, I’ve walked past that bathroom (which I pretty much never use, as there’s a bathroom downstairs and another in my room) and detected the odor of… rank urine. Prompting me to flush and scrub and mutter less-than-kind observations about my firstborn.

It’s gross. But manageable.

With Monkey, it’s become a real problem, and here is why (and also where you should stop reading if you really are squeamish and didn’t stop reading, earlier): Monkey suffers from chronic constipation. Oh, he’s better than he used to be, for sure. But most of the time, when he manages to poop, the toilet clogs.

(Wrap your brain around that, if you will. The smallest member of our household is the one dropping logs large enough to bring the plumbing to its knees. He’s so talented!)

When you’re a small boy who often clogs the toilet, what do you do? Do you try to use the bathroom more often, so as not to be producing mammoth mounds of poop? Do you try to use less toilet paper? No! Don’t be silly! You just stop flushing the toilet! It can’t clog if you don’t flush it, you know.


So. The kids are hanging out with their dad today, celebrating Columbus Day. I puttered around the house, doing some work, and then decided to go out and run some errands. But I’d had rather a lot of coffee, you know, so I thought I’d better go to the bathroom before I left. In fact, I had to pee pretty badly (you’re welcome).

I walked into the downstairs bathroom and lifted the lid.


My arm shot out and pulled the flusher before my eyes had time to finish registering what I was looking at. The water rushed into the bowl, turned a rather predictable color, and began to rise.

I gagged. It was to be the first of many gags.

I lifted the seat with one hand while grabbing my trusty plunger from the undersink cabinet with the other. Insert plunger. Plunge. Plunge. Gag. Plunge. The water seemed to be receding a bit, slowly, and I needed more water to aid my plunging efforts, so I flushed the toilet again.

More plunging, more gagging, as the bowl filled. I thought again, mid-gag, about how I really needed to pee, and maybe I should stop and go upstairs and relieve myself. But no, I’d be done here in a minute. No worries.

I plunged away and the water level went down again and I thought that one more flush would probably do it. I hit the handle for that third—most certainly NOT charmed—time.

The water level rose. I plunged. I gagged. The water level… kept rising? What? Wait! Stop! NOOOOO!

The chain inside the tank chose this time to have a little kink, and the flapper couldn’t close, and so the water continued to rush into the bowl.

The bowl which was still clogged. Clogged and full of things OTHER THAN WATER.

I plunged with renewed zeal as I fairly THREW the decorative tray off of the back of the commode (handy for holding a box of tissues and a can of Lysol which the children take turns spraying on each other), and finally had to let the plunger go so that I had both hands to remove the tank lid and fix the chain.

The flapper slammed down just as the “water” (I use that term loosely) began to run onto the floor and I began to scream.

Yes, I screamed. I was home alone, so I guess it’s not a big deal. And the toilet’s self esteem doesn’t seem much damaged by strangled shrieks of “NO! NO NO NO NO NOOOOOO!!!! FUCK!”

I screamed and a dry-heaved and I plunged until the clog was finally cleared. And then I stood there and screamed and dry-heaved some more.

Finally I went into the kitchen and gathered up a bottle of bleach and some gloves and a scrub brush and some rags and paper towels.

I scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees. I scrubbed the toilet, outside and in. I flushed it a couple of more times, to make sure it was truly clear.

I stopped screaming, but I continued to gag. I walked upstairs and changed my clothes and came back downstairs and put the bleach away and left my clothes on the floor of the bathroom with the rest of the cleaning items and found some matches and some kindling and set the bathroom on fire and closed the door firmly and went out to buy groceries. Without stopping to pee.

Gorgonzola was on sale. I’ve been meaning to pick some up for a recipe I’ve been wanting to try, so I bought it, even though I’m never eating again.


  1. Jenn

    Can I tell you that I have never, ever seen anyone clog a toilet as well as my husband? Apparently it’s a talent that most of his family shares. Who knew? At least do their own flushing and plunging.

  2. janie

    Oh my goodness! My nine year old daughter does the EXACT same thing. Afraid to flush the toilet, first, because the sound has scared her since I potty trained her over six years ago, secondly, because she is afraid of it clogging. She also wipes herself and puts the toilet paper it in the trash can til it is overflowing and on the floor because of this fear of clogging the toilet. Ugh. I thought this stuff got EASIER after the whole diaper thing.

  3. Patricia

    My son does the paper in the trash not toliet thing (but his excuse is that he must stand there and say “bye-bye poop, bye-bye pee” — he’s 3, he has an excuse, k?)

    I so want to make some snarky comment about adding fiber to Monkey’s diet — but then I thought — ok, no, I just had to endure, my own son telling me AT.THE.TOP.OF.HIS.LUNGS. that he was making a BIG POOP. He was so proud, it was a “big one.”

    I’m thinking taking photos was wrong, though I asked him if we should — he said, yes. What does he know, he talks to his poop.

  4. Heather

    Sarah will tell me while pooping, “I should eat more vegetables mama, even though I don’t like them.”

    Enjoy the gorgonzola.

  5. Tug

    Your stories, as bad as I feel for you, crack me UP. My grandson brags about his “man-poops”…and my daughter finally bought toilet paper with puppies on it, and he is ONLY ALLOWED to tear off from puppy to puppy. NO.MORE. So far, it’s worked…

  6. Susan

    Oh good lord.

    I’m glad you ended by setting fire to it all, because WHAT ELSE WAS THERE TO DO?

    Holy sh . . . no, I won’t say it.

  7. Terri

    My almost-7 son has the same exact problem — he has since he was around 5. We’ve tried everything — fiber, fiber and more fiber. Short of daily shots of prune juice (“p–p juice is what he calls it), there is no avoiding the clogged toilets. When we redid the kids’ bathroom earlier this year, we bought one of those super-duper non-clogging toilets — he clogs it too, but fortunately not as bad. So that’s something, I guess. The problem is, now he won’t go #2 at school b/c he is self-conscious about the clogging tendencies, although he has yet to obstruct an industrial toilet. I’d love to hear of a solution, short of an outhouse in the backyard.

  8. InterstellarLass

    Yeah. Been there. Lost all my linens in the ensuing fiasco. And it wasn’t just my kids’ poo…it was the contents of the backed up sewer line in our apartment complex. I think I’m still gagging.

  9. Mom Nancy

    Oh NOoooooooooo! Gah! I’m gagging on your behalf.

  10. Lena

    Can I just say that I thought I could hang? But I couldn’t? This is awful. You rock.

  11. Sandee

    My husband does the clogging thing. I told him he has to flush at least three times WHILE pooping before he even puts the paper in or he has to clean it up himself. So far, so good.

  12. dorothy

    I feel this way about cleaning out the potty-training potty. However, nothing is grosser than poop floating, spilling, sloshing.


  13. Brony

    Been there.
    Remember you love your children :)

  14. dcfullest

    Well the good news, if you believe in theory that things happen in threes, is that your flooding season is over. You have officially gotten your three by my count (the basement, the missing tile and the toliet).
    I am not sure that “Congrats” is the most appropriate thing to say, but that’s all i can think of :)

  15. Jenn2

    This has nothing to do with clogging toilets, but Mr. Clairol once sent me a picture of a giant turd floating in a toilet, via my cell phone. Fortunately (or perhaps not), we were already married at the time, so breaking up with him for being a gross weirdo was not an option.

  16. foodmomiac

    What’s the recipe? ;-)

  17. Cele

    You are saving this story for his future wife? Right?

  18. karen t

    Why didn’t I believe you when you said it was going to be gross? Just going to sit very still and sip peppermint tea….

  19. Muirnait

    I’m pretty sure that qualifies as birth control? In our house, it was always my little sister, who’s the prissiest one of all heh.

  20. birchsprite


  21. Amy

    If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.

  22. Brigitte

    Oh no, my daughter isn’t potty-trained yet, but she’ll hold it for like a week (even WITH special prescription poo-medicine) before taking a ginormous dump. I’m very afraid.

    Is it any wonder that my regular stress dream, since the wrong-school-bus/can’t-find-my-locker/don’t-know-which-class-is-next dreams have (mostly) stopped, is an overflowing-toilet dream?

  23. Theresa

    I so could have written this…as a matter-of-fact, the guilty child just asked me if I wrote this…

  24. D

    yup. Fun times aint they? Wait until you are out on a lovely date with Otto and the babysitter calls and says, “the toilet is overflowing aaaallll over and I don’t know what to dooooo!” It just keeps getting better Mir.

  25. Sara

    Ahhhh….memories…light the corners of my mind….nasty water covered memories….
    Sorry to say that I have lived that scene.
    And now on to breakfast*urp*.

  26. Karen Rani

    Why oh WHY did I not heed your warning?

    Dry heaving…ugh.

  27. tori

    My daughter was just at her friend’s house the other day and the mom (luckily it was my best friend) called to say my daughter had locked herself in the bathroom and was crying and would not come out. I rushed over there to find that she had clogged the toilet and did not want anyone to know. I plunged the toilet, and luckily did not have the horror that happened to you! Yuck!

  28. Tracey

    A few years ago on a trip to Malaysia, I just about freaked when the toilet bowl in the hotel filled up, when I flushed it, before water and contents swirled away.. slowly…. And I was told that this was like toilets in the US… normally! Is this true?! Our loos in Australia don’t do that… and we don’t tend to have plungers handy like you guys seem to need to do! Seems like there’s a small margin for error…. *still shaking my head, and fighting off the sympathy dry heaving*

    Seems, though, that the children-incapable-of-flushing problem is global. The worst offender in my house is the 13 year old, who you think would know better by now.

  29. debby

    You’ve captured exactly my feeling of horror when the water begins to rise. No human culprits in my house, though, just old plumbing.

    Have another cup of tea and rest this morning, and avoid plumbing at all costs. Maybe you should skip the tea then.

  30. Katie

    Argh! This happened to me this weekend, not once but twice (I need to reexamine the kids’ diet). I used a whole swiffer refill pack and I don’t think I’ll ever step foot in that bathroom again.

  31. Lesley

    Good story! Hee.

  32. Caren

    This is why every time my son goes to the bathroom, you will hear my husband and I yelling throughout the house, “Did you flush it yet?”. He must flush as soon as he is done ‘going’ and then after he finishes wiping.

  33. Becky

    Just think how many years of toilet unclogging you have ahead of you – cuz take it from me, they never learn to use the plunger.

  34. Em

    Silver lining: If you had a problem with nail biting, I bet its cured now.

    Possible solution: Bring children outside with a shovel. Dig a small hole. Go inside and get a roll of toilet paper. Tell them next time the toilet overflows, this is where they will be evacuating their bowels. Remind them winter is coming.

    Certainly not the same thing but in the interest of commiseration, let me tell you – we keep a plunger next to the toilet for just such emergencies. Nothing (well, after reading your story, almost nothing) is worse than going in some time after one of my children has used the bathroom to find it wet. Who used it (the 3 or 4 year old)? Why? How much E. coli. is currently inhabiting the floor, walls, curtains, possible tub, God forbid TOOTHBRUSHES!! And which child – the one snacking, or the one with a finger knuckle deep in his nose is the one who fondled the foulest of household helpers? Fear of the unknown. It will drive you to madness.

  35. ali

    my god you are a GOOD mother. i am not sure i could have done that.

  36. Velma

    You think once they are out of diapers that your days of poop-wrangling are coming to end, but it never ends, right?

  37. Ben

    I take a week away and I come back to find this entry.


    (and someday I’ll have to tell you about the time we went and visited relatives Up North and I managed to clog their only working toilet with my Texas sized poop and their children had to walk through the fifteen degrees snow to a neighbor’s house to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because we couldn’t fix the darn thing until morning) Or, maybe I just did.

  38. Summer

    Awful. Just awful. Toilets should never, ever overflow, particularly if the toilet contains substances other than water.

    This happened to me earlier this year (thank you, manly husband of the brawny turds) and to make it even worse, the water-and-more flowed out of the bathroom (thank you, crackhead contractor employed by previous owners to finish the attic) and found a crack in the floor… and when I went downstairs to fetch more bleach and towels, the “water” dripped on my head and down the back of my neck. Took me a LONG time to forgive him that one.

    Monkey had better make you the best macaroni-covered pen holder in the world for Mother’s Day.

  39. Jessica

    Ha! I feel for you, I really do. I have a husband who clogs our toilet every now an again, plus a little girl (not yet potty trained) who has the constipation thing down pat. However, you cannot make me dry heave with plumbing/flooding difficulties. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I was eating while I read this. Over the last two weeks, we’ve had one, big, nasty, stinky plumbing debacle after another. Some part of our house has been damp for long enough I haven’t even been able to get to a computer between all the disinfecting.

  40. Jennifer

    Hello. My name is Jennifer and I’m a toilet clogger! I have been semi-constipated most of my life!
    I totally feel for you Mir! I still think you’re pretty, too!
    Any way, now that we are all done dry-heaving at the thought… fiber won’t do the trick… It’s ok for short term, but your body will become used to it and get lazy! One serving of yogurt every day (with live cultures, please) will get the works moving! Don’t buy that fancy expensive new “get your system going” yogurt either, it is just yogurt with good PR…
    OK! I’ll get off my soap box now!
    Thanks for sharing !

  41. marlaroo

    Oh, ugh. Trust me, what with these super-fabulous-water-saving-low-flow toilets we have, this happens to us WAY more often than I’d like. We’ve trained the boys in the art of the “halfway flush,” but our 8-year-old is still a plunger-wielding master of unclogging the clogged.

  42. Trivial Mom

    So the chronic constipation thing doesn’t stop??!!! They told me Googie would grow out of it by the time she was three. Stupid doctors don’t know what they’re talking about. At least she’s too little to clog the toilet, I just feel bad for her little bum.

  43. OneTiredMomma

    Marlaroo – I’m with you!

    Must master the “half flush” Two bowls of water = one clean floor… totally worth the extra flush!

  44. MMM

    Oh my gosh! You poor thing! Is it ONE big poop, or lots of random poops? If it’s more than one, maybe he can be taught to flush after one or two! My daughter has the same problem. I don’t know how such a large object can come out of such a tiny body! Seriously!

  45. kirala

    I never quite understood til now how lucky I have been to have a kid who poops three times a day, every day.

  46. Janis

    Ewwww! The smell is coming from inside the house… You get major Mom Points for making it through that ordeal. I can’t imagine the horror of watching the water rise and knowing that it’s Not. Going. To. Stop. in time.

  47. Sheila

    I once lived in a summer rental with three other college students and had to use a WIRE COAT HANGER to unclog the only toilet in our flat, as there were no proper plungers around.

    My kids can not bring anything to top that, even though my middle daughter will often step back from the bowl, wipe the sweat from her brow, and exclaim “Whew- that’s a whopper!”

  48. 4 Sanity

    I had to comment on this one – on the bright side they are your children, the women in my office building sometimes have this problem there is nothing worse than wakling into an unflushed public toilet, we have even had to erect a sign that says “Flush and use the brush”. Ewww

  49. carolyn

    My son once clogged a toilet at Walmart. I was mortified….of course, I could go home and leave the plunging to someone else, so it wasn’t too bad. But still…

  50. Carol

    OK, first — My son doesn’t suffer from it anymore (thank god) but he used to suffer from chronic constipation. So I know the enormous turds that you speak of. I also know how easily they can clog a toilet. But that’s not why I’m commenting. Surely what I’m about to tell you will make you feel better. I hope. ??? I hope you don’t think I’m trying to upstage you. I’m just thinking “perspective” here.

    I went to get my haircut the other day and left the children home with my husband. The neighbor boy came over to play with our oldest son (who is 6). My husband knew something was askew when he spied our son running down the hall. Butt naked & with a roll of toilet paper. Knowing the situation couldn’t be a good one, he entered our son’s room only to be assaulted by another naked 6 year old boy AND (oh yes, it gets better!) the horrible stench of SHIT. As it turns out, the neighbor boy SHIT in a a small plastic toy bin that was in my son’s room.

    And NEVERMIND that two 6 year old boys were having a naked party together. There was SHIT. In a bucket. That wasn’t from one of our own.

    I’ve actually never been more happy in my life to not have been home at that particular moment in time. My husband was tasked with disposing of the turd and plastic bin. HA! That’s what he gets for leaving me alone for 4 1/2 months to go fight a war. That’ll show him. Er, or something!

    So…maybe that makes you feel better? Or not….

  51. carrien

    Not gagging, I’ve lived through too many fo those myself. But screaming and cursing at a toilet, that I do every single time it happens still. Two things to try next time he leaves you a surprise. Turn off the water intake on the toilet, it’s a little tap behind it near the floor, until it’s unclogged. If you need to use water, use very hot water and pour it in from a jug. It loosens almost everything all of the time, and you have control of how much goes in. I haven’t had an overflow onto the floor in a few years now, though I deal with back-ups all of the time.

  52. David

    *LMAO* I am continually amazed. I almost wish I could’ve been there. Fly on the wall and all that sort of thing.

  53. Aimee

    Gaaaaaaaaaah! Ew.

    I think arson was the only acceptable solution.

  54. Elleana

    It has happened to me, too. I still have nightmares – the water won’t stop, the water won’t stop, THE WATER WON’T STOP!!! – only in my case I called my husband at work and demanded he come home and help me because “OMG I can’t do this by myself!”

    And it’s always my 7 year old son who clogs it. Everytime he poops. Every. Time.

  55. Elleoz

    Mir, again you are hilarious! Only you could pull off a story like that.

    I too, like Jennifer, am a toilet clogger myself *hangs head in shame*. It isn’t as bad as when I was preggers with my daughter though. I will spare you the details :)

    Good luck with the flushing round your parts. My 7 year old nephew is staying with is this weekend, and he has the same problem. Should be a fun weekend! NOT!

  56. Fraulein N

    Oh man, this cracked me up, even though I’ve been there.

    (Wait, maybe I shouldn’t tell you that since I don’t have kids to blame it on.)

    But the frantic plunging, the eyeing of the RAPIDLY RISING “water” level, the fruitless PLEADING with the “water,” and finally (my favorite part) the horrified scream? Oh yes, I have been there, my friend.

  57. daring one

    Our family had “devotionals” every Monday night. They weren’t always “religious” in nature. I remember several involving the principle of the flushed toilet. My dad would have us stand around and have a funeral for the unflushed load.

  58. Melanie

    That sounds like my son. He’s 4, but my husband is constantly calling me in the bathroom to “look at this! He poops man poops! How can someone so little poop like this?”. Yeah. It wasn’t my turn to check that he wiped well, so why do I want to come in to check that out? Also, as I read about your toiler overflowing, I just started laughing out loud and snorting at work and hopefully no one was nearby enough to hear me.

  59. Kimmie

    My 7 year old daughter is our clogger. It’s not even that she has a constipation problem. She has HUGE poops everyday!!!!! I am sooooo not good at plunging I end up praying to the potty gods that we have no troubles while DH is gone to conferences. This weekend we were afraid we’d have to purchase a new pot. Unfortunately, there aren’t any labled “the big dump” or anything else appropriate for the kids’ bathroom. LOL

  60. rachel

    my kids are prone to the opposite problem of Monkey’s, which requires extra wiping, which leads to clogged toilets.
    yeah, they deal with it like Monkey too. ugh.

    I made a checklist sign, but they ignore it.

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