Several years ago, I was a teacher's aide in a Montessori classroom. Children cleaned up their messes by themselves regardless of the kind of disasters they might have made. There were occasions that I did not appreciate this. Apparently, however, those lessons--the lesson of cleaning up after yourself literally and metaphorically--were critical.
One afternoon, Daniel, a language-delayed three-year-old, was being particularly difficult. I cannot remember what he did specifically, but before I could really discipline him, he began to run away from me in the play yard. I have a rule. I don't chase children. I catch those buggers the next time they come around, which they always do. The boy was furious with me for not chasing him, and, due to his slow use of speech, resorted to a non-verbal method of showing his rage. He stood in front of me when I caught him after that first bratty pass, pulled the crotch of his shorts to the side, and took a dump right there on the play ground. I was about twenty-four years old, fairly new to this concept of belligerent shitting, and came unglued. I called my supervisor to come over and collect the kid. She announced that Daniel would have to clean up his mess and that my job was to guard the pile so that no other kid would come mess with it. I was outside guarding the poo when I noticed the boy had made two sizable dollops--not just the one exclusively for me, but a random dump on the way into the building. I straddled myself between the two piles, my arms stretched out to close the distance, while small children whirled around me.
"Stay away from that!" I would say repeatedly. A cluster of teachers on the playground thought this was uproarious, but I was less than impressed. And I couldn't figure out how a small child would neatly clean up his own feces--especially due to the rather loose hershey-kiss shaped bombs left behind. Precious time was being lost and my job protecting the poo was getting harder and harder.
"What is that?" asked Emmanuel, the sweetest boy in my class.
"Don't touch it!" I ordered. "This is very dirty dirt." Emmanuel squatted down before I could intervene further and took up a handful of poo. At this point, I think I began shrieking. Another teacher took over poo-patrol while I marched Emmanuel into the building and supervised his handwashing. Complete hysteria overswept the teachers on the playground. I still was not laughing.
Finally, little Daniel came outside with plastic bags over his hands and cleaned up as much poop as he could. Later, my supervisor told me that this had been nothing. Once, she said, she had a student take a dump by the front door of the school. She said the pile was so large she had thought a horse had done it. She had asked the child why. The answer: I had to go.
I still remember the first and last name of this kid that pooped on my watch those years ago. So today, I decided to conduct a Google search for him. He popped right up on a Myspace page--about 18 years old now and still living in that same town. He is now a skateboarding self-professed Christian rocker. Even at his stunning height of 6'1", he still looks much like the little kid I remember. No, I did not message the boy, some things left better decomposing in the dirt so to speak. He is a child I am thankful for having taught because I can always say about my son that at least Tiny has never done "that". Frankly, having had the trouble we did with Daniel when he was a challenging squirt in the classroom, I found his Myspace page reassuring: not only did he survive childhood, but he had friends, interests, and what appeared to be a pleasant life. More hope for the future, no matter what poop my kids throw at me.