Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

Emerson, Emerson and Poo

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Emerson is my son. Emerson is also one of my favorite writers. And me, I’m a just a Dad trying to figure it all out.

Emerson, the writer, said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

I agree wholeheartedly. Sure, about the deeper gifts of spirit and creativity that lie within all of us, but also about pooh.

SFX: Emerson, the boy, saying, “I got poo.”

Unless you are a sanitation engineer or a 2nd grade boy, you probably don’t think about poo all that much. I know I certainly didn’t, until the birth of my son.

If there is one thing you learn while caring for an infant, it’s that people shit a lot. I’ve spent vast majority of my life, not thinking about this while talking to other people. I tend to take people as they come, assuming a basic dignity and decency, until I am proved wrong. Sure, none of us are as good as we’d like to be, we’re all flawed creatures, but I think this view of taking people at their best is the correct moral stance on interpersonal relations. I makes my life better and easier.

And, assuming that a person is better than their mistakes isn’t just a nice thing to do, it pulls out the best in them as well.

But then there is poo. A lot of it. So much, in fact, that it has scarred me. Now, every once and a while, I when I look at someone — completely against my own will — I think, wow, you shit a lot. If you couldn’t take care of that on your own, or if all the toilets in the world backed up, this would be a huge problem. And I am really glad you aren’t in diapers, like my son.

I have discovered that this is a far more disarming way to view someone than thinking of them naked. The average person poos 360 pounds of poo a year. The average adult male wieghs 177lbs. That means, they literally crap two of themselves a year. Look at another person, right now. Is that person full of shit? The answer is yes.

Now if this my septic excursion has made you uncomfortable, I don’t blame you. After all, it’s pooh. And children, for longer than I realized before I became a father, are basically poo-producing — and sometimes poo-flinging — monkeys.

By my back of the envelope calculation, Emerson will have gone through about 5,000 diapers before we get him completely potty trained. And that’s a staggering number. But that’s the reality of it.

I can’t explain to you, what it means to be a parent. The joy, the agony, the crushing responsibility, the endless grind, the discovery, the whirlwind of poo, the assault on your ego — all of it is in there — but I can do far worse than describing it this way:

You realize that a whole bunch of things that you thought were important, don’t matter at all. And that a great many things that you may have avoided or overlooked you whole life are now the center of your world.

When I look at my son I have a feeling, an indescribable feeling that could roughly boils down to: I’d wade through a mountain of shit for that boy. You, dear listener? Would I do that for you? No.

But I am not heartless. If I found you covered in your own filth? I would bring you a hose.

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