The Day I Flossed Poop Nuggets Out of My Toddler’s Teeth

By her fifth child, this mom thought that nothing could gross her out. She couldn't have been more wrong.

by Patti Barnes
Originally Published: 
A toddler kid looking at the camera

The following story was submitted by a Fatherly reader. Opinions expressed in the story do not reflect the opinions of Fatherly as a publication. The fact that we’re printing the story does, however, reflect a belief that it is an interesting and worthwhile read.

By the time our youngest son came along, I’d arrived at a stage in my parenting life where, having had five children, I thought I’d seen it all. I would no longer be surprised by anything that happened when one of our kids was involved, and there was nothing left they could do to either surprise or gross me out. I even went as far as proudly declare this thought out loud.

Big mistake. It turns out that our 18-month-old son overheard my comment and took it, not as the overly confident boast it was, but as a challenge. And it only took him a little over a week to spot his chance and demonstrate how wrong I was.

The day started out like any other: Wake up; scramble to get everyone ready, out the door, and dropped off; go to work ⏤ you know the routine. At the end of the day, I collected the little man from daycare, and it turned out to have been as exhausting a day for him as it had been for me. He dozed off in the stroller on the walk home.

Wanting to decompress a bit and catch up on some chores without the handicap of his “help,” I left him sleeping in the stroller. In fact, so confident was I in the knowledge he was safe and secure with the additional child harness holding him in place, I parked him in the corner of the room and went about my to-do list.

Roughly twenty minutes later a few fidgety sounds began to come from his direction, followed shortly thereafter by some deep throaty giggles. I finished off the online banking with a smug tap to the keyboard and walked into the other room, basking in the kind of warm glow that only a parent who has managed to see a task through from beginning to end without interruption can experience. This was short lived.

I was met by a sight that didn’t quite compute at first. Where had he got his hands on a chocolate bar? How did he manage to get the chocolate so melty that it spread that far? What was that awful smell? Oh god, the smell. While I had been busy paying bills, my son had been busy sticking his hands down his very full diaper. And not only was he having a good time digging around in there, he seemed equally as excited about pulling handfuls of fresh feces out and triumphantly rubbing it on his face, the stroller, the harness, and the attached toys. Clearly, he had remembered my “nothing can gross me out anymore” comment and upped his game. He was wearing so much poop.

When I say wearing, I mean his clothes were covered, as was all of his exposed skin. Worse, it was summer; he was only wearing shorts and a teeshirt. There was poop up his nose ⏤ totally clogging one nostril while lightly filling the other ⏤ under his fingernails and toenails, and in every crease of his body. He had poo encrusted eyelashes. The real kicker, though, was that he’d been eating it. My son had a genuine, actual sh*t-eating grin on his face.

Cleaning the stroller, the toys, and the clothes weren’t a problem. Even carrying the disgusting bundle of dung and delight upstairs to the bath was something I had experienced before with the other kids. But this fella won the gold medal in the “Disgusting Child Olympics” when I was forced to delicately floss tiny nuggets of poop out from between his teeth. Yum.

Patti Barnes is one half of a husband-and-wife duo who are still trying to work out how to parent, despite having had five kids on whom to practice. They are both open to suggestions from anyone who has it all figured out.

This article was originally published on