Last week I talked about being discouraged, which is one of the 12 ways the devil can mess with us. The next night both my cars were broken into – good times. Although I’m not sure what you call it when you leave your car unlocked and the person/jerk face/cockroach simply opens your door. Maybe the better title is my car was violated. Regardless, this isn’t what I was referring to when I shared that November and December were incredibly discouraging to me. This was different because this was 50% my fault. I find things to be discouraging when they are more out of my control even at a 60-40 split. Feeling helpless is terrible, and when a bunch of helpless moments happen even small ones, they can add up to being very discouraging – a slow erosion of your soul.
So how can my cars being violated be 50% my fault? Over the last couple years my wife has had the bad habit of leaving the car unlocked and overnight a person without a soul/brain/integrity was pleasantly surprised to find she has this habit. She also has a habit of leaving gift cards in the car – big score for this troll/drain sludge/virus. My wife and I know this is a risk, yet we didn’t double check to see if we locked our cars that night – that was our mistake. One of us also didn’t learn to stop leaving gift cards in the car, which is the only thing they steal. Oddly enough, they never steal my worship CDs. I’m not sure what’s more of a deterrent for them, the Christian music style or the fact they’re CDs and no one except a few old people like me still use CDs. To be honest, I’m just glad they don’t literally break into the car by smashing a window or damaging the door handle. We could essentially never lock our cars if we didn’t leave anything in them worth stealing.
I should point out my wife was not nearly as cool about this experience as I was: (after slamming the door) “That’s it; we’re moving! I hate this neighborhood! I hate everything about being here!” It was one of those moments where I’m glad it was winter and people don’t have their windows open: “Did someone just scream. ‘I hate this neighborhood?’ We’re in this neighborhood; she hates us! I should break into her car and steal the gift cards she foolishly leaves in there.” When my wife was calmer, I tried pointing out that we’re lucky to have older cars that aren’t worth stealing because Hamilton has been hit hard with a lot of car thefts. Guess how much she appreciated that comment. Not my best moment. Fortunately I was smart enough not to say, “I don’t know why you’re so upset. It’s 50% our fault.” I’m pretty sure that would’ve been another time I’d be glad it’s winter and the windows were closed.
I have many examples of discouraging times from my November and December, but I’m going to go with a more recent example because it’s funny… to other people. This past Sunday night I booked my family to stay at the Clifton Victoria Inn. The word “Inn” is probably making you think not luxurious… and that would be accurate. Inns are basically bragging “We’re inn-side, so be grateful.” There are four hotels connected to the Fallsview Water Park in Niagara Falls, and this was the bargain location of the four. It was the only one where you have to walk outside to get to the Park… and it was soooooo worth it. This place was also the only one with free parking and a free breakfast – take that fancy pants Sheraton! The second most expensive hotel option in this group of four was $450 a night – the same as Great Wolf Lodge on a really good day. My Inn? For four general passes and a free under three year old (the other hotel didn’t offer free under three) including tax was $182 – Yeah, $182 for the stay and the Water Park! Are you kidding me? Water Park passes are regularly $55 or on sale during slow times for $43. That’s inn-sane! Talk about an inn-credible deal… okay, I’ll stop with the puns even though it was inn-dependent… yeah, that one didn’t even make any sense.
You might be wondering, “Chad at such a good deal, how could you have faced discouragement?” Great question. Minus sharing a bed with my wife and two year old where one of them constantly kept kicking me (my wife blames our daughter, but that’s a little convenient) and my four year old having a total meltdown after breakfast (tantrums should be expected by parents on trips), things were pretty smooth… until… While my wife and mother-in-law took my now very happy four year old to the wave pool, I watched my two year old playing in a dry structure up on a balcony overlooking the water area. She was having a great time and I was very relaxed in a chair; it was wonderful… but every parent knows great things never last long with kids. My daughter soon came up to me with that sheepish look kids have and said, “Daddy, I have to go poop.” I kicked into high gear and we quickly walked to the bathroom/change room. Just when we got a few steps outside of our destination, my daughter stopped, looked up at me, and said, “Daddy, I went poop.” What? That’s past tense… I don’t like the past tense in situations like this – ah, crap… literally… everywhere. Because she’s a girl, my wife normally takes her to the bathroom, but she was nowhere near us – this was all me.
I took my now very uncomfortable daughter into the boys’ bathroom/change room telling her not to look – naked guys are gross and I didn’t want to make her sick on top of the current mess. I chose a stall, covered the toilet seat with toilet paper, and took a peak at the situation in my daughter’s pants. Why is it when your child has an accident, it’s never just a little turd? Why isn’t it a “I thought it was just a toot, but a tiny poop came out,” moment?” This was a full-on non-diarrhea explosion that couldn’t be contained by her underwear. It shot out the sides of her underwear getting halfway down to her thighs – it was like her colon sneezed! There was somehow poop on the back side of her underwear like while escaping the underwear it decided to avoid the line forming down her legs and wrapped around her butt. It was like a four layer cake with her pants, poop, underwear, poop with the top layer starting to seep through her leggings. It was one of those moments where you’re thinking to yourself, “Why are we feeding our kids so much? I essentially paid money for this mess to clean.”
I slowly pulled off my daughter’s pants and underwear and managed to smear the mess down the rest of her legs to her feet – like a champ. I put her on the toilet and told her to just sit in case there was more… how could there be more? I don’t know. She already had like five pounds in her pants. I tried to scrape out her underwear with toilet paper, but that just managed to smear it and spread it onto my hands – bad choice. Next I went to the sink and tried washing it out and it was one of those stupid sinks you have to hold the nozzle down to get water out – terrible. I was quickly reminded of what she ate the night before – delightful; glad my wife gave her that. My daughter kept calling my name and I soon went to see she had moved up the toilet seat to be able to lean against the tank and in her shimmying she managed to paint the seat brown. I lifted her off the toilet, toilet paper clinging to her legs like a high school boy getting to hug his crush for the first time. I tried to pull it off, but it was stuck on there pretty good, so I let it dangle off her legs like an art project gone wrong. I then had my daughter stand outside the stall and I told her not to move while I tried cleaning the toilet. Of course, how often does a two year old listen to that? She kept trying to move closer to me while I kept telling her to stand still while I “cleaned” this already germ infested toilet with my bare hands and single ply toilet paper. My daughter eventually stopped walking up to me, but her legs were itchy; it was probably the toilet paper, so she scratched them… and then scratched her face… and then she scratched her legs again and then scratched her face… over and over as I kept exclaiming “Stop touching your face with your poo hands!” while I wiped toilet paper along the poop painted toilet – it was quite the scene.
As I finished getting the toilet mostly white again, a worker came in and said not to worry about cleaning the toilet, so I could focus on my daughter. He directed me to the shower I somehow didn’t even think to use – oh right, this is a bathroom/change room – and he even got it going for us. He reassured me that this happens all the time, and they’d get it all cleaned up. He was very kind. The shower was a private stall that could fit a wheelchair, so it was a good size for the two of us and there was lots of liquid soap to use. That was a big help… and as I was feeling better I realized my daughter’s explosion not only went down and around her underwear, it went half way up her back. At least we were now in the shower… and my hands were already painted brown, so what’s a little more?
What was funny was I had to wash my daughter’s face that had some non chocolate brown stuff on it because of her earlier scratching her legs then her face genius moment. I filled my hands with liquid soap and tried to wipe her face. Now, here’s the thing about my two year old. When you try to wipe her face after a meal with a cloth, she sticks her tongue out to lick it… and that’s what she did, but this time there wasn’t a clean cloth; it was my hands full of liquid soap. That day my daughter learned she did not like the taste of liquid soap, and she relearned that lesson five more times. She would not hold still and I had to keep trying to wipe her face with my soap filled hands and she kept sticking out her tongue to lick my hand. Every time she did this, she got very upset at me while I was exclaiming, “Stop licking my hand!” and trying not to giggle. I’m sure the people in the change room listening in were very confused: “Does he have dog in there? Why is a hand being licked in the shower? That’s one of the worst parts to lick.”
After I finally got my daughter cleaned, I fortunately was wearing a long sleeve shirt over a t-shirt that I was able to use to wrap her in and take her back to where our bags were in the swimming area. That’s when I put her back in her wet bathing suit and took her out to her mom who was at the far end of the wave pool. I then got dry, ran back to the hotel to get another outfit for her, and the craziness was done… at least it was after I washed my hands a million times.
This situation would be in the category of discouraging because it was out of my control and I somehow ended up stranded with a poo-tastrophy. What helped keep it from really being discouraging, however, was the help of the staff at the water park – they were great – and my wife being very sympathetic… and then laughed at the situation. It’s amazing how discouragement can be reduced through the kindness of others and a little laughter. Feeling alone makes it a lot worse. It also helps when a situation is not added to a long list of recently experienced discouraging moments. Fortunately, we might be powerless in times like this, but we always have the power to do our best to handle them and try to laugh about them later. And when things are calm, it’s in our power to be kind to others and to look for ways to be encouraging, especially for people in a tough spot.
This week may you consider how you can help someone in a discouraging situation.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people (like me)