I swear. It doesn’t matter where I am or how carefully I think I am watching the ground, the stuff flies through the space time continuum to plant itself exactly under the heel of my shoe just as I step down.
It happened again today as I picked up my 7 year old from school. He and I were holding hands, racing down a leaf-covered hill toward the car when I felt my foot squish just a little too far through the composting plant debris. I crossed my fingers that it was just mud and forgot about it as I began deflecting the daily afternoon onslaught of seven year old questions. (“Mom, if pro means positive and protons have a positive charge why are electrons called electrons and not something else? Like con-trons or nega-trons? Huh Mom?”).
Minutes later we were settled into the car, heat turned up against the chilly, threat-of-snow, arctic blasts blowing around us. I had the floor vents turned up high because my feet are always cold. And then I smelled it. Dog crap. A dry-heated blast of it shot straight up my nose and I gagged on the fresh putrescence of it. I began to make noises like a cat hacking up a hairball as I frantically turned the heat down. Moments later, small voices cried out in protest against the awful stink that had filled up our car.
Then, this insight. “Moooom, why are YOU always the one to step in dog poop?”
Even my kids know it’s true. At least once a month I step in dog poop. No one else in my family seems to have this talent. Despite their reckless running about and complete avoidance of sidewalks, I am the one who inevitably ends up shuffling my heels through wet grass before I head into the house to scrub the soles of my shoes. Again.
It was worst when the kids were infants. We have a beautiful, enormous Albizzia tree that grows on our parking strip in front of our house. It is a favorite place for dogs to relieve themselves despite my wishes otherwise. And mostly, the neighbors clean up after their canine friends. But for some reason both years that I was pregnant and/or toting infants, the neighbors and the dogs conspired to get me. There I would be, lugging my pregnant self/baby-in-a-sling/baby +toddler down my front steps through the rain to the car, and inevitably I would step in the world’s largest pile of dog’s droppings. I couldn’t even see my feet, but I would know. And then I would have to haul my pregnant self/howling baby/howling baby+tantruming toddler back up the stairs to deal with the consequences.
I have never been much of a dog person. However, repeated stepping in dog poop has taught me that I am not a dog person not because I don’t like dogs, but because I don’t want to be one of the “dog people.” Don’t get me wrong….Some of my best friends are dog people. But I do not want to be one because in my head, dog people are those people, the ones who let their dogs crap in places where I walk, who let their dogs run off leash and terrify my daughter, who let their dogs bark half the night while I am trying to sleep. The people that I curse when I am leaning over the bathtub with a toothpick prying out the foul-smelling pieces of dogs’ droppings from each and every groove in the bottom of my shoe.
I know some dog people will cry foul and compare my children to their animals. I get it. My kids stay up half the night barking too. My kids run around off leash scaring everyone in their path. My kids probably do have dog breath. But I will guarantee you this:
You have never spent half an hour with a toothpick leaning over your bathtub picking my kids’ poop out of the bottom of your shoes.