The man settles into his place at the table with his plate full of curry chicken atop rice. Grant is five, and he is on his knees on his chair. Rice is already scattered around his plate, and he has knocked the green beans off. Lucia is sitting on a chair next to him. She has a spoonful of rice, and she dumps it and watches it plummet, then smack the floor.
“Boo, could you not do that, please?” the man says.
“Lindsay will just eat it anyway,” says Lucia. “She eats off the floor all the time.”
Lindsay is sitting in a high chair. She has spoonfuls of rice and a few green beans. Her hands are already sticky, and she is rubbing sticky pieces of rice in her hair.
Grant looks up and yells, “No! I don’t like yellow chicken! I want cheese!”
The man sighs. He takes Grant’s plate, sets it on the counter, grabs a new plate, spoons rice onto it, then grabs two mozzarella string cheeses from the fridge and puts them on the plate.
“Here, pal.” The man looks at Lauren. “I mean, thinking the kid on the white food diet is going to like curry is a bit more than optimism, no?”
Lauren rolls her eyes. “We have to try.”
The man sits again. “And stop dumping your rice, Lu. I don’t care if Lindsay will eat it later. That’s disgusting.”
Lauren glances up. “Well, Lucia made a splash today. And I’m just done with it.”
“Oh yeah?” says the man.
“You wanna tell him?” Lauren says, looking at Lucia.
She shakes her head. “No.”
Lauren sighs. “So you know how Lucia keeps refusing to poop.”
“Uh huh,” says the man, chewing on a piece of chicken.
“It had been a solid week since she last pooped, so I did everything I could before swimming lessons. I took her several times. I gave her a suppository. She defeated it.”
“How does she do that?” says the man. “It’s amazing.”
“She sits with her bum on the floor and waves her hands until the feeling passes. But it gets better,” says Lauren. She swallows a bite, wipes her mouth, and then says, “So I put her in not one but two–two!–swim diapers. We get to the Raynham Athletic Club, and the earlier class is finishing up. While it’s finishing, Lu goes to stand on the steps in the shallow end. I turn my head for a second to put the diaper bag down and get Lindsay situated. I turn back, and Lu has poo running down her legs.”
“Good lord,” says the man.
“Yeah, well, she loves the water so much that she relaxes, and out it comes.”
“Did it get in the pool?”
Lauren looks at him. “Of course it got in the pool. But that isn’t the best part. I told one of the workers so they could shock the pool, and she goes storming around: ‘Everyone out of the pool! Some kid pooped in the pool and now we have to clean it!'”
The man puts his head in his hands. “Oh geez.”
“Oh no, it keeps going. Now there are parents coming in with kids in Lucia’s swim class, and the lady goes to each one of them: ‘Sorry! No class today. Some kid pooped in the pool! Pool is closed for the day!'”
“For the day? Come on! At most it would take an hour.”
“Yep. Well, but she said it was for the day. So everyone had to turn around and go home, and everyone knew it was us.”
“I’m so sorry,” says the man.
“So I told Lucia that I’m just done with this. I’m tired of the battle. And we can’t try to figure out when she’s finally going to blow out. Until she poops on the toilet normally and stops all this, she doesn’t go to swimming lessons anymore.”
The man takes a sip of water. “Amen to that.”
He looks at Lucia. “Do you like swim class?” She nods. “Are you gonna stop holding your poops?”
“Too bad if you can’t go back,” says the man.
She giggles at him. “Hush, my daddy!”
The man sighs and rolls his eyes.
This battle has gone on for nearly six months. Two weeks later, Lucia returns to swim lessons, and the battle is over.