Sarah Kate Levy is a writer living in Los Angeles who used to write fiction and now writes screenplays and television specs and blogs at ChecklistMommy.com about her attempts to organize her large, loud and messy family into an orderly, well-oiled, and co-operative household where she hopes one day to go a full 24-hours without discussing ANYBODY’S POOP.
I have just recently been introduced to ChecklistMommy, and I could have used her help about oh, four years ago. Her lists appeal to the Type A in me that yearns to break free from the piles of matchbox cars. She has an awesome series of posts about keeping kids safe on and off-line, including “Tricky People” Are The New Strangers – Take a few minutes to go read it, and bookmark the resources she has included there. She also has a whole page of checklists and downloads, from gear, where to stay when traveling to what to keep in a diaper bag.
I hate talking about poop. I hate talking about poop so much that when my husband, Mr. Big(Ideas), who LOVES TALKING ABOUT POOP, starts talking about poop, I tune him out and start in on my mental-checklist of all the other reasons I love him that make the poop-talk thing less of a deal-breaker than it otherwise would be. (They don’t call me ChecklistMommy for nothing. I have a lot of these mental checklists: Reasons I actually LOVE my husband, even when he sucks. Reasons I actually LOVE my kids, even when they suck. Reasons I actually LOVE my mother, even when she … you get the picture).
Then I had kids, and suddenly my entire LIFE was about poop — beginning with the first night we brought my eldest home and she pooped in a fashion that can only be described as volcanic. She literally erupted — up, out, and all over everything. Mr. Big(Ideas) started laughing. I started wiping baby poop off the only piece of actual ART he and I owned and realized I was now entering a new era of my life, which could best be described then (and remains):
BEFORE POOP: I did it once a day, after coffee, quietly, privately — and NEVER MENTIONED IT AGAIN.
AFTER POOP: I do it once a day, if/after coffee, depending on whether I have time to make it or not (the coffee), and generally with one of our four children opening and closing the bathroom door to ask me where their WHATEVER THEY NEED RIGHT THAT MINUTE is, and if I’m pooping or peeing, and how big the poop is, if indeed that’s what’s going on. I also spend a lot of time waiting on my kids to poop (the girls), and then discussing the size of THEIR poops, (their choice of discussion topic, not mine), or changing my sons’ diapers, one of whom poops around the clock and one of whom, praise WHOMEVER, doesn’t.
AFTER POOP is a place where every moment of my day is spent thinking about the bathroom habits of our kids as I plan our days and activities and vacations, packing diaper bags and stashing extra diapers and wipes and poop-disposal-bags all over our house, and in all our cars.
Yep: I said it. Poop-disposal-bags. Poop bags, for short. I think about poop bags A LOT in balmy AFTER POOP-land.
Once upon a time, we used to buy poop bags in large rolls from the pet store, because for some reason those crafty dog folks sold them in tiny little rolls you could attach to a dog collar LONG before those crafty BABY folks took those same little rolls of plastic bags, attached them to little duckies you could attach to your diaper bag, and charged about a BILLION TIMES MORE.
For several years, buying poop bags at the pet store and sticking it to the baby store was my major poop-and-poop-bag triumph, until finally, and yes, it took awhile, my Mommy-brain can be hella-slow — I realized I had a better, free-er, constant supply of poop-bags being delivered to my door EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
That’s when I decided, if you can’t beat them, join them — and POOP / POOP BAGS became my new crusade.
So hear me roar:
MOMS! STOP BUYING POOP BAGS! I don’ t care if you just LOVE how cute those little duckies are. I’m here to tell you to use the bags that come with your newspapers, instead.
First off, like I said: THEY ARE FREE. They come WITH. YOUR. NEWSPAPER.
Secondly: lots of newspaper delivery services, including mine in Los Angeles, have recently started using RECYCLED or COMPOSTABLE bags.
Thirdly — WAIT? YOU DON’T GET THE NEWSPAPER?
Okay, I know. You’re a parent — you don’t have time to read the paper. Or you read the paper, but you read it on your phone.
I might be a dinosaur, but I’m telling you — I’m BEGGING YOU — renew your lapsed subscription to the ACTUAL NEWSPAPER. Reading the actual physical paper is of way more importance and will have a far larger effect on your life.
• Getting an ACTUAL PAPER delivered to you preserves jobs — journalists, designers, delivery men. Paper companies. (And don’t feel guilty about the paper companies. You can recycle that paper, after you read it. Or compost with it. Or use it to teach your kids about paper maiche.)
• Getting an actual paper, and having it IN YOUR HOUSE, a physical PRESENCE in your family life, makes the NEWSPAPER a part of your CHILDREN’S life, too. Sharing sections with your kids — mine like to look at the photos in the ARTS and HOME sections — makes sharing the paper a family activity — and an educational one at that. (Wow, see that? I actually turned your fifteen minutes with the newspaper and a cup of coffee — your YOU time — into a simultaneously-multi-tasking-thing you can justify because you’re doing it “for the kids”!)
• Getting an actual paper keeps you WAY MORE informed about and connected to the larger universe. Who has time to READ the ACTUAL PAPER? Yeah, I know it’s tough. Some days I just skim it. But the thing is: skimming the ACTUAL PAPER, in my hands, means I’m skimming ALL THE NEWS. Not just the headlines I click on the homepage of my paper — EVERYTHING THEY PRINTED THAT THEY DEEMED FIT TO PRINT. Not just the politics, or the new restaurants, or the latest study on pregnant mice. Also the situation in Afghanistan, the latest artist imprisoned in China, or a quick little column about the life of woman who used to sell trinkets down on the docks who hasn’t been seen down there lately, does anyone know if she’s alive or dead?
I mean, seriously: ten minutes with the ACTUAL PAPER and I’m connected to a missing senior citizen who used to sell loosies to guys working the wharf? When’s the last time you spent ten minutes thinking about HER?
THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN POOP?
Yeah — that’s sort of my larger point. Stop buying poop bags. Get the ACTUAL PAPER, and use that actual paper BAG instead.
Because you NEED that newspaper.
MOMS NEED THE NEWSPAPER, because MOMS NEED THE NEWS.
Moms need to stay connected. We need to stay informed. Because Moms who are connected and knowledgeable run the world. Moms stop wars. Moms stop drunk drivers. Moms force fair treatment of their AIDS-infected sons. Moms – grandmothers, even! — got the Argentinian government to finally start releasing info about the Desaparecidos of Argentina’s Dirty War.
So Moms, please, STOP BUYING POOP BAGS. I can’t say it enough, so I’m saying it AGAIN. Stop with the poop bags. Start back with the real-live NEWSPAPER, instead.