Care and Feeding

My 2-Year-Old Twins Won’t Stop Pooping in the Bath

They have started calling the bathtub “the poopy tub.” Please send help.

A woman looking down, horrified.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections via Getty Images Plus.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I have 2-year-old twins (a boy and a girl), and within the last month or so, they have gotten into the habit of pooping during bath time. It’s terrible! It’s usually my son who does it, but last night it was my daughter.

I’ve told them if you need to poop, please tell me; I’ve said we only poop in the diaper or on the potty. I try not to give them a bath if they haven’t already pooped that day—to no avail. It’s at the point where they now associate pooping and bath time and even call the tub the “poopy tub.”

Help!

—The Poopy Tub

Dear TPT,

Showers. You can also do a reward chart with stickers for not pooping in the bathtub, but I personally would just assist them in the shower until they are potty-trained and also capable of understanding that you cannot poop in the tub.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I have an amazing, wonderful, nonverbal autistic son. He is 6 years old and just started grade five. We have a “talking tablet” that rarely gets used at home, since we understand his signals so well. He’s known the alphabet backwards, forwards, and sideways since before he was 2. He’s obsessed with languages and phonics and spends a huge amount of time on YouTube watching language videos. We’re pretty sure he knows words in about 10 languages at this point. We certainly know that he has an amazing English vocabulary, a good French one, and a decent amount of Spanish. But he also learned a lot of Korean to watch a “Baby Shark” video.

Since he has this intense interest, it seemed like a no-brainer to put him in French immersion last year in kindergarten. He’s doing great and seems to understand equally well in English and in French. (Of course, understanding and listening are two very different things!)

Here’s the question: How do I deal with the idiots who question putting a nonverbal child in school in another language? Some of these idiots are family members. I’ve given some stock answers, some snarky answers, even the occasional rude answer, but I’d like to know how you’d deal with it.

—Many Languages, None Spoken

Dear MLNS,

If his teachers were sufficiently happy with his progress in French immersion kindergarten to move him to first grade, and the school supports this choice, I cannot see any particular issue with it. Nor are you asking for my opinion on this! You have a game plan.

When it comes to the (many) opinions of others, a calm “This is what his teachers and I have decided will best suit his interests and strengths” can be used with the rank and file of curious people. I assume he has a developmental pediatrician, whom you can also cite at this point. If people are pushy, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned “Why do you ask?” or “That’s a very personal question.” With family, I suggest sending one clear-cut email explaining what you have explained to me in your letter, along with the aforementioned notes about how teachers, developmental pediatrician, team are all on board, etc.

Family members who continue to pry can get the one-two punch of “Oh, I thought I had explained that in my email. What part of it confused you?” and “This is getting so dull. Let’s discuss something else.”

On a side note (though an important one): I realize that you understand your son well enough to largely discard his “talking tablet,” but other people will not. He will benefit from a communication device as he gets older, and encouraging him to play around with it now will bear fruit down the line.

You sound like you’re doing a fantastic job.

• If you missed Sunday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My spouse is concerned that our newly 4-year-old daughter is not yet learning to read. She knows all her letters, can read and write her own name, and can identify one or two other words on sight. I think spouse is being ridiculous. Am I wrong? Should we be doing phonics with our 4-year-old? Or do they need to calm down?

—Chill

Dear Chill,

You are correct—your spouse is making a mountain out of a molehill, and they need to calm down (don’t tell them to calm down). The best way to have a child who eventually loves and values reading is to read books together. Try to redirect your spouse from overthinking this and instead encourage them to harness that energy into sharing the recommended 30 minutes to an hour a night with your daughter, tracing with a finger as you read. That’s a way to transform your spouse’s nervousness, which your daughter can almost certainly sense, into enthusiasm that will get her more, not less, excited about reading.

She’s right on schedule.

Dear Care and Feeding,

My in-laws started a very elaborate plan to have my son taken away last year, and they won for a short time, but he ultimately ended up back with me, rightfully so.

This plan included making a false suicidal ideation report on me, causing me to be on a 5150 for the minimum 72 hours, as I wasn’t suicidal. While I was locked up there, they wouldn’t answer my calls, so I knew something was up. They got my son’s father involved and had him file an emergency temporary custody order, meaning I didn’t have to respond for it to be granted.

They also falsely filed a report with the department of child services, but again I got through their rigorous screenings, and nothing was found to be used against me. As a side note, his grandfather actually told me he will get my son and I should be afraid.

Fast forward to now, over a year later, and they’ve called and made another false report to DCS, once again trying to have custody awarded to his father so they (grandparents) can take him from my son’s father, who doesn’t want to be involved in his life.

I now have to go through more rigorous home visits and have my life disrupted by taking time off of work to satisfy their investigation and clear my name once again.

I understand I can’t burn their house down, so what can I do to protect myself from these people, if anything?

—Please Make It Stop

Dear PMIS,

You need a lawyer. It is possible for various child protection agencies to decline to investigate reports from known bad actors acting vengefully, but this has “grandparents’ rights lawsuit” written all over it, and depending on your state, that can have a lot of very real teeth.

Lawyer. Please keep me posted.

—Nicole

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