OK, so I need to say right up front I have Amanda’s permission to share this. She told me anything pre-teen was fair game… So here goes:
It all happened about a month before she turned three. She had been potty trained for a few weeks, and being the independent little person she was, she was already taking care of herself in this arena. I was busy doing morning chores while she was playing and Adam was napping. I headed down the hallway with piles of folded laundry to put away, and as I passed the closed bathroom door, I heard the toilet running. I thought, “Way to go, Amanda! She remembered to flush!”
A few minutes later, after having put all the laundry away, I headed back down the hall and I heard the toilet still running. I thought the handle must be stuck, so stopped by the bathroom to give the handle a jiggle. As I pushed open the door, I felt a warmth wash over my feet. I looked down to see a three or four inch wall of water come rushing out of the bathroom, woosh over my feet, and begin to soak into the carpet of the hallway. I looked into the room and saw quite a lovely fountain flowing up and over the top of the bowl. It wasn’t a stuck handle at all, but a stopped up toilet! I sloshed my way to the toilet, took off the top of the tank, grabbed the floaty ball thingy, and flop it over the side of the tank to stop the flow of water. (Not the “correct” way to handle the situation, I realize, but it got the job done!)
My next move was to start grabbing towels to soak up the water. I grabbed the towels off the racks in the bathroom, out of the linen closet, and even grabbed the not-yet-washed towels out of the laundry closet. Before long, every towel in the house was sopping wet, and the carpet still squished water up between my toes when I walked on it. By now I was sobbing, near hysteria, and called Brian, telling him I needed help. Being the practical, calm in a crisis guy he is, he told me to throw some towels into the dryer so I could reuse them, and he’d come right home. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?
There was a lull in the activity as I waited for the towels to dry and for Brian to get home. I sat Amanda down, told her she wasn’t in trouble, but I needed to know what she had flushed. She looked at me innocently and said, “Just potty and toilet paper, Mommy.”
In one of my finer parenting moments, I said, “Amanda, you had to have flushed something else. That wouldn’t plug the toilet.”
Again came the answer, “No, Mommy, just potty and paper!” I felt for her, knowing she must be afraid she was in trouble, so kept assuring her she wasn’t in trouble, and repeatedly asking her, begging her, even, to tell me what she had flushed. Her answer remained the same. I would let it drop, then come back a few minutes later and ask her again. Great parenting, isn’t it? Anyway, 40 minutes later, just before Brian got home to help (abandoning a customer in the middle of the workday to be my hero), as I once again asked Amanda what she had flushed. This time she looked resigned and said, “I flushed the rubby ducky.” I let out a sigh of relief, finally knowing what the problem was, so even though the house was still a mess, at least it all made sense. I assured Amanda she wasn’t in trouble, thanked her for telling the truth, and got back to cleaning up the mess.
About that time, Brian got home from work. I told him the new revelation of what had happened, and he set about using the plumbing snake to clean out the plumbing. He knew this could be tricky, since the rubber duck floats, and might stuck at the top of the curve in the lower part of the toilet. After quite a while of snaking, he still hadn’t managed to get the duck out, so he turned off the water, pulled the toilet, and took it outside to work on it. outside he was able to work at the problem from both ends of the bowl, using the garden hose to flush out everything that might be in there. After a while he had his arm up in the thing, and still couldn’t get at the rubber duck.
It started to look suspicious, so I went back into the bathroom to search, and sure enough: under the bathroom sink was the rubber duck, safe and sound. I let Brian know, so he set about re-installing the toilet. During all this we were still dealing with drying towels, reusing them to soak up more water, and then drying them again.
So here’s the ugly truth. Actually, it’s only ugly as regards to my parenting. Amanda had been telling the truth all along. However, as I continued to push her, she realized her only way out of the situation was to come up with something I would accept, so she made up a lie. Talk about parenting, eh? Other than the house smelling a little off for a couple weeks, and me being greatly humbled, we all came out of this basically unscathed. I did learn, though, to trust in Amanda’s integrity!