My son recently earned himself a 48-hour suspension from preschool. It’s hard to imagine what sort of infraction an almost-two-year-old could commit that would merit such punishment. You’re probably mulling it over right about now and wondering what sort of hoodlum I’m raising. You’re probably wondering whether you should stop reading this right now, lest I be sending subliminal messages to teach your children to plant stink bombs in other kids’ cubbies and rob liquor stores in the guise of entertainment.
Relax. My son didn’t do anything your own kids haven’t already done. You’ve probably done it, yourself.
Oh, it wasn’t just your every-day, run of the mill poop. It was the sort we in the parenting community sometimes refer to as “a blowout.” You know what I’m talking about. The big “D.” Eeewww.
My son attends preschool in a suburb across the Missouri-Kansas border. Eastern Kansas, it seems, has recently found itself the victim of a parasite known as cryptosporidium, or “crypto” for us simpler folk who can’t be bothered with multi-syllabic words. Judging from the memos circulating the daycare scene, this crypto is one bad dude. Once it wriggles its wicked way into the human host, it causes such enjoyable phenomena as stomach cramps, nausea, and of course, the big D. “Profuse” big D, according to the memos. Eeeewww.
Thus the recent witch hunt spawned by a panicked state board of health. Local childcare and education workers have been threatened with certain death for failure to comply with rigid guidelines created to prevent further spread of crypto. One such guideline involves the immediate suspension of any child who, for whatever reason, has an incident of the big D.
The snag in this logic is obvious to any parent. Children between the ages of one and two, it seems, are no strangers to the big D. If every American parent contributed a dime each time their toddlers experienced the big D, it would generate a sum sufficient to not only eradicate the U.S. budget deficit but also bring several third world countries up to speed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to toddler diarrhea. A cup of juice, pudding for breakfast, teething, the wrong color shoes — any of these and more can send a child’s diaper into a frenzy.
That said, I can understand the abundance of caution on the part of the State of Kansas. Goodness knows I’m willing to do almost anything to prevent the little booger from bringing home some nasty bug that he’ll more than likely pass on to me. It just seems slightly unfair that my son is treated like Typhoid Mary just because I mistakenly fed him black beans for dinner last night.
I admit the demeanor of the preschool’s administrator amused me when I arrived to pick up my disease-infested child. The grave expression on her face indicated that not only should I take the boy home, I should also call a priest immediately upon our arrival.
“I saved the diaper. Do you want to see it?”
Um, no, not especially, thanks.
“Do you want to take it with you, so you can have your pediatrician do a culture?”
Thanks, but I’ll pass. Should the big D visit my son again this evening, I’m sure that particular specimen will be plenty.
I collected my son and his belongings and left the school. I had just strapped him into his car seat when a teacher came running across the parking lot toward my car. At the end of her outstretched arm was a plastic bag, double-tied. I could only guess what was inside.
“Did you want to take this with you?” she asked, obviously completely freaked out about having to touch it.
“No, that’s okay, really. We’ll use our own if, you know, it comes up.” (Of course I know it sounded incredibly stupid. What else was I supposed to say?)
Driving home, as my deathly ill boy sang a song about an octopus in the back seat, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Oh, the havoc I could have wreaked had I accepted the offering of doodie in a bag. I pictured the boy and I, a modern-day mother and son version of Bonnie and Clyde, robbing the First National Bank of Missouri, armed only with our wits and a baggie full of poo. The Crypto Crusaders, they would call us. Our pictures on every bulletin board in every Midwestern precinct. We’d be famous.
Okay, so I have an overactive imagination. I like to think of it as “seeing the humor in every situation.” You have to admit it’s kind of funny.
It wasn’t a total loss. My son and I got to spend a beautiful early fall day together at the park. And after the next day passed with no further episodes of the big D, I sent him back to school this morning with no trepidation.
Although I shamefully admit I spent several minutes this morning pondering whether or not to pump him full of children’s Kaopectate before sending him off. In the end, I decided against it, not wanting to take that phone call from the school administrator, informing me that my son was bloated, swollen, and very unhappy, and that I should pick him up right away and call a priest.