I may have looked a little flustered when I handed my (almost) three-year-old daughter over the gate to her small group leader this past Sunday. Or perhaps my daughter’s SGL didn’t notice the look of exasperation thinly veiled by a weak smile.

Either way, once passing my daughter over the gate and gathering the tag I would need to reclaim her in an hour, I bee lined out of the preschool environment and into the silence and solace of the adult world while my daughter’s SGL faced what can only be described as a really crappy morning.

No, really.

My (supposedly potty-trained) daughter had a massive bowel movement in her pants just moments after I left. The kind that takes your breath away and contorts the faces of anyone within a twenty-yard radius. The kind that instantly turns her favorite princess undies into hazardous waste material. The kind that requires a pile of wipes as tall as she is before the smell is close to bearable.

How do I know?

Because it was her third massive bowel movement that morning. (No, she wasn’t sick. She was potty training and had gotten in the habit of “holding it” …for days.)

That morning, I had summoned the energy to get myself and my daughter ready and out the door for church by myself. (My husband works at church so he was already there). Just moments before buckling her in her car seat, she released what must have been five days worth of solid waste in her Sunday dress. That should have been the first indication that I needed to just give in to the Pull-Up but silly me, I believed that had to be the end of it. Surely after such a… voluminous mess… she was cleaned out.

I was mistaken.

As soon as I pulled into our church’s never-ending line of traffic, I hear a sound from the backseat that would bring a fifth grade boy to the floor in a fit of giggles… followed by a small, defeated whimper.

Willing it not to be what I thought (and smelled) it was, I asked, “What’s wrong, babe?”
“Do you need to go potty?”
Shake of the head)
“Why are you sad?”
(Very softly) “…poop.”

It took ten minutes (with the windows rolled down) to find a parking spot and fifteen more minutes to climb into the back seat of the car and clean her up between the car seat and the door (with napkins from the glove compartment dipped in my venti ice water from Starbucks). Luckily, I had not cleaned out my car from the week and was able to pillage a back-up outfit from her school bag.

By the time I passed her over the gate into the care of her cheery SGL, I was ready to be anywhere other than the presence of preschoolers, doing anything other than cleaning poop off every surface within arms reach.

When I picked my daughter up after service, I was slightly shocked to hear she’d had another accident but I was mostly… relieved.

I knew I should feel horrified. I’m sure my daughter’s SGL was expecting a heartfelt “I’m so sorry!” but all I wanted to do was throw my arms around the SGL’s neck and say “Thank you!”

I know Sundays can be hard in the preschool environments. I know babies throw tantrums. I know toddlers throw… well, everything from goldfish to toys to poop. I know it’s loud and messy and smelly. But I hope you know just how grateful us parents are for the hour you spend tackling the tenth tantrum of the weekend or the fourth juice spill of the week… or the third poopy pants of the morning.

And I hope you know that some weeks you are ministering more to the exhausted parents than the sticky-faced toddlers. So from one cleaner of… voluminous messes… to another, thank you.

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Lauren Terrell

Lauren has a degree in elementary education, led the same high school small group for the past 4 years, and will soon be learning the ins and outs of the preschool world as she and her husband clamber through parenthood with their new baby girl.

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