I posted on Facebook a few months ago a picture of my then 3-year-old feeding green beans (I think) off his plate to his 1-year-old brother with the caption: “That moment when you find that person in your life who will eat your green beans for you.” That was definitely a great moment for my son. Frankly, I knew it would be difficult to top. When you’re a picky eater and your brother turns out to be a human garbage disposal, that’s pretty huge. However, I think last week we might’ve surpassed it.
Because, if there is one thing that’s more important to a preschooler than food, it’s poop.
I mean, my four-year-old Jacob’s favorite “joke” that he tells at least three times a day to his little brother is: “Baby is going to fall into the toilet with poop in it!” I have to say, while the set-up and delivery doesn’t seem so great, and when you really think about it, it’s hard to tell exactly what the joke is or if there is a joke there at all, it kills. Every. Single. Time. Both of them practically roll on the floor for minutes.
Of course, killing with a poop joke delivered to your little brother is pretty easy pickings. Kind of like getting applause from the crowd at a Trump rally. Finding someone out there in the wider world who shares your comic sensibilities, however, can be a tougher task.
Last week it finally happened though. In fact, Jacob had the tables turned on him by a dark-haired little girl in a red dress.
The boys and I were at our usual park. After playground time, we made our way over to the lake. We always stop by the lake to throw pebbles into the water, splash with sticks, annoy ducks, and try to fall in. The potential for falling in always sends my stress levels through the roof. Not that I’m worried about them getting hurt because the water is really shallow, but because it would be super embarrassing and people would look at me funny. The lake is pretty standard as Florida lakes go. In other words, kind of scummy and disgusting.
Usually there aren’t any other people around, which is glorious, but on this occasion there was a little girl with her parents and grandparents. When we walked up, the girl was crouched down by the edge of the lake, probing beneath the muddy water’s surface with a small stick. She was dressed very proper in a red dress with long white sleeves. The dress looked to be made out of felt? I don’t know, really. It looked liked that fuzzy material they use on those boards that you stick letters and numbers on. Her hair was dark, thick and a little mussed.
Jacob sidled up beside her with his little brother, Bennett, close behind. They both crouched down, forming an uneven row of three little heads and torsos resting on sneakers or shiny black dress shoes. Jacob brought his stick along and quickly joined in the “fishing.”
How was I holding up through all this? Not well. Thanks for asking. But at least I was keeping myself busy stopping Bennett from plunging headlong into the scummy pond. Meanwhile, the girl’s parents were all like, “Oh whatshername, your dress is going to get dirty.” Trust me; that ship had sailed long ago.
They played around each other for a few minutes, moving away from and back to the water periodically collecting and carrying various sticks and stones with them. Then when they were all lined up along the water again the little girl dipped her stick into the water and fished out a string of greenish-brown slime.
“Ewww, it’s poop!” she exclaimed with a mix of disgust and delight.
Jacob stifled a laugh, cut his eyes in my direction, and gave me look that seemed to say, “Ha! Can you believe she went there?” Then he laughed hysterically. Soon his brother joined in. Finally, they repeated the classic punch line about 137 times while laughing and flicking “poop” from the water into the air with their sticks.
It was all fun and games until a few specks of feces landed on the girl’s white sleeves.
“Ohhh,” she whined. “You got poop on my dress!”
This wonderful line snapped her dad out of the trance he seemed to have been in.
“Alright, honey. I think it’s time for us to go.”
After a moment’s hesitation, she got up and stalked away. As the girl and her family retreated toward the parking lot, Jacob smiled and said, “I had fun playing with her.”
And I could tell he did have fun, but I also sensed a little wistfulness in his voice. Not only because she was leaving, but because she had bested him at his own game. Sure, it’s great that he found someone who shared his passion for poop-related activities, but I could tell he was quietly kicking himself that she had come up with the poop line before he did. She had beaten him to the punch.
As we watched the girl zig-zagging through the grass on the way to her car, I think I heard him say, “You won this round, but we’ll meet again.”