Every parent of a potty-training toddler knows the characteristic grunt — that bone-chilling noise that sends you running to the nearest bathroom in full-on sprint mode, because a Situation Code Brown is imminent.
This morning, I heard this petrifying sound while driving, en route to my daughter’s school. As I glanced in the rearview mirror and spied her beet-red face, I advised, “Oh no sweetheart, hold it — we’re almost at school!”
Her labored response: “It’s ok Mommy. [*grunt*] I’m just [*grunt*] backing up the poop.”
A few more grunts, some visible bearing down and a smile later, and we were at school, accident-free.
Backing up the poop. My daughter was literally telling me she has devised a way to reverse poop, hence I had nothing to fear.
It was at that moment — well, actually, at the moment we arrived at school, astonishingly accident-free — that I realized: She’s totally fucking with me.
That’s right. I’m being played. This 2-year-old, sweet, cherubic, diminutive angel of a little girl is scamming me.
Because here’s the thing: We’ve been trying for weeks — nay, months — to learn how to poop on a toilet.
And I’m not talking about the advanced concept of reverse pooping here. I’m just talking about actually pooping-pooping. The normal way.
If she can reverse poop, after all, it stands to reason she can do the opposite.
But she’d rather make me work for it.
And as I was taking stock of this crazy-making situation, I had an epiphany: What if 2-year-olds aren’t actually “terrible” after all? What if they’re just fucking with us?
As I reasoned through this groundbreaking realization, the kind undoubtedly worthy of its own Ted Talk, a few other instances of her toying with me instantly sprang to mind.
Not too long ago, I overheard my daughter — the aforementioned impish, sweet, adorable one who has mastered the art of reverse pooping — reprimanding her baby doll.
It’s probably important to note at this point that this baby doll is mind-blowingly annoying. She has vacant, unnaturally wide-set eyes, creepy flesh-colored mittens for hands, and she seriously cackles when she is squeezed.
And when I say “cackle,” I mean cackle — like the kind of sound you’d expect if Chucky the Doll met up with that clown who lives under Carol Anne’s bed in Poltergeist and found the clown to be totally hilarious.
So back to the doll: My toddler, all on her own, named the doll, which at the outset seems like an advanced concept for which I should be beaming with pride at her obvious and way-before-her-time creativity.
Except the name she has chosen for demon baby doll? Mikalee Byerman.
And if you didn’t notice before, the name at the bottom of this column: Mikalee Byerman.
So my toddler has named the world’s most annoying doll after me. First and last name. Which means I feel shamed and humiliated every time she utters the doll’s name, as I’m transported right back to the 1970s as my own mommy yells my name — first and last — because I was pulling my big brother’s hair in Sears while we shopped for poop-colored corduroy slacks.
It’s like my baby knows how to get to me. Find a doll who’s creepy as fuck, give her the name that immediately strikes fear in my soul, and wait for the terror in my eyes. Every. Single. Time.
And to add insult to injury: Her favorite thing to do to Mikalee Byerman? Put her in time out. An interaction I stealthily record on my iPhone from the opposite side of the room. You know, for posterity.
“You see, here’s the problem,” she admonishes.
Seriously. This is the way my 2-year-old talks. I am literally transcribing this from a video I took of her having a heart-to-heart with Mikalee Byerman — the doll, not the mommy/writer.
“Mikalee Byerman, you need to use your big-girl words,” she cajoles sweetly.
And there I sit, watching my toddler and Mikalee Byerman having a supportive conversation about the need to use big-girl words.
This coming from the baby who had a full-on, epic meltdown not two hours before because I deigned to put her in pants without pockets.
I know, right? I mean, the nerve.
Anyhow, to me, this is all proof. Somehow, some way, this baby has completed a rigorous and comprehensive psychological audit on me, complete with weaknesses, trigger points and epic ways to mock me.
But you know what? I’m ok with all of this. Let her use her mockery on Mikalee Byerman. Let her reverse poop until her eyes are brown. Because at the end of the day, I know she’s listening. She absolutely gets the concept of pooping, she understands her own histrionics need only be replaced with big-girl words, and she’s all set to earn her “A” in college-level Psych101.
This toddler is angelic. She’s brilliant. She’s precious.
And she absolutely loves to fuck with me — at the age of 2.
I can only imagine what 13 will hold.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go initiate a conversation between Mikalee Byerman and a certain not-so-terrible toddler about reverse-engineering the process of reverse pooping.
The mommy/writer Mikalee Byerman, that is; not the demon doll.
Just to clarify.