This is the day the Lord has made…

Thought I’d start the new year with a cautionary tale.

Somebody once said “There’s no such thing as a normal day”. That is true but there are definitely abnormal days. Days that really could only happen once. At least there had better be or else the day described here could happen again. Before I go any further I want to say this is all absolutely true (except the Bon Jovi bit which I can’t prove) and occurred in mid 2008. At the time, I submitted it as an article for an internal magazine where I was then working but never got around to putting it on here.

Update 19 March 2010: Recently this page has been coming to the top of Google searches for “My child has put cat poo in their mouth”. If you’ve come here looking for what to do I’m afraid I don’t have the answer. The NHS website does say that “Animal faeces (poo) are not ‘poisonous’ but may cause infections and if you are concerned you should call NHS Direct.” Here’s the link to that page (helpfully called “poisoning”) if it helps.

If your child hasn’t been tucking into the cat litter you can read on. Oh and wouldn’t read this while eating if I were you.

###Rude awakenings

It all started when my left leg decided it was time to re-introduce me to the idea of cramp. Now I’ve had my fair share of cramp and perhaps it was the fact that I was in the middle of an unusually deep sleep but I don’t recall cramp ever feeling like this! This was _man-cramp_. My leg felt like it had a shark attached and I went from snore to roar in under a second. I did what any normal human would do and screamed. Actually I didn’t – I was about to when I remembered my loving wife (Claire) sound asleep beside me and being a caring husband (and a complete coward) I thought it best not to wake her at 5:30 in the morning.

So I slid out of bed (the only way I could actually move at the time) and tried to get rid of the cramp by stretching my leg – which of course hurt even more. So now I wanted to scream even more. Time to leave the room and scream elsewhere. They don’t call it cramp for nothing though and my first step resulted in a half lunge and me falling towards the bed. After a clever mid-fall twist which would have made Tom Daley proud I avoided the bed and landed on the floor – right on top of the leg with cramp. So I crawled to the bathroom, stuffed a flannel in my mouth and stretched my leg. After about ten minutes the pain (and the screaming) reduced enough for me to limp back to bed where my – ever so concerned – wife was probably dreaming about Jon Bon-Jovi but was definitely not awake. Phew. The venture was a success in one aspect at least.

I went from roar to snore in under a second. This was man-cramp!

And so back to sleep for all of around 10 minutes when my son (four at the time) started shouting “help!” from his bedroom. Despite some well placed elbows, Bon-Jovi was still holding my wife’s avid attention. So up I got and hobbled into the kids’ room to find him sitting up in the top bunk. He calmly explained that he’d had a nightmare and had “forgotten” to wake up in the middle of it to go to the toilet. The bed was soaked. His sister (three) was as out of it as my wife (but hopefully not dreaming about Jon Bon-Jovi) in the lower bunk. The manager in me took over and I decided that eighties musicians would have to move aside. I, gently, woke my wife and assigned her the task of dealing with our son while I dealt with the bed. Standing on the edge of the lower bunk (with my daughter still asleep in it) I stripped the top one and cleaned up. Eventually the bedding was all piled up and Catnip (his favourite toy) was sitting atop the pile like a wee-covered Guy Fawkes. I decided I’d take them down “in the morning”. By this time my son was clean and in dry jammies and clambered back into bed. I limped back to mine. My wife was already heading back to the eighties and my cramp was dying down so it seemed some sleep was on the cards.

###Enter the cat

At this point the cat realised she had not played a big enough part in my morning. She also decided – what with all the moving around – that it must be time for her breakfast. Tempting as it was to help her out of the upstairs window, I hobbled downstairs and fed her with all the grace I could muster. Believe me, she was lucky I didn’t put a funnel in her mouth and pour it down! So after all that it was back to bed and what was left of my sleep.

Believe me at this point the cat was lucky I didn’t open her mouth and pour the food down for her!

But wait! There’s more. Apparently during my cramp-induced gymnastics I managed to knock my alarm clock off the bedside and turned it off. So half an hour after I was supposed to wake up, my son appeared beside my bed and gently shook me. _”Ah bless”_ I thought ,_”He probably wants some breakfast”_. He probably did, but the reason he was waking me up was to say _”Daddy, Pebbles has done a poo in my room”_. Pebbles if you haven’t guessed is the afore-mentioned cat. Taking in this glorious news I just knew it would be on the rug and not on the – easy to clean – laminate flooring. “Where abouts?” I asked, anxiously. “On the bottom bunk” came the reply swiftly followed by – a very dead-pan – “and it’s all squishy”. This was enough to drag my wife back from her own personal Ashes-to-Ashes and she went to rescue our daughter from the cat’s new litter tray. After she returned while I limped towards my own personal Life On Mars to clean another bed. Meanwhile Mummy went through the checking-a-child-for-cat-poo-whilst-avoiding-getting-it-on-yourself-and-anything-else procedure (patent pending).

When I arrived there were indeed some “parcels of fun” from Pebbles the cat on the end of the bed and they were indeed, squishy. Not that my daughter had noticed. Apparently she had remained completely asleep while the cat did it’s business and – even with the squishy poo on her bed – I confess I was envious. The cat must have seen my face and decided this was not the time to ask for more food and she sat quietly by the back door waiting for me to open it. If she was smart she’d stay out there all day. I know my cat. She’s not that smart.

###A twist in the tale

You’d think this story would end now wouldn’t you but, like an M. Night Shyamalan film, there’s one final plot twist. As I went out to deposit Pebbles’ – er – pebbles ( now in a bag ) into the dustbin I re-discovered that the day before my Father-in-Law ( who to be fair was just trying to be helpful ) had put the kitchen bin liner and put it next to our dustbin. I had “meant” to do something about that before going to bed because, bless him, he didn’t know the reason we have dustbins with lids where I live. They are called foxes and overnight a couple of the little beggars had ripped that bin bag to shreds and spread the contents – offering like – before my front door. They were obviously looking for waste food. Ha! Waste food in our house – nice one.

So there I stood, tired, in bare feet, only one of which I could stand on, holding a bag of poo, before a sea of kitchen waste. Hey, at least the sun was shining. Right in my eyes! So I mopped up the sea, deposited the bag o’ poo and glanced at the clock. Arrghhh – 7:45 – I was supposed to leave at 7:30!

So while “this is the day that the Lord has made” would seem ironic at that moment. “We will rejoice and be glad in it” was a particular struggle. I really hope that was an abnormal day. Because if it wasn’t, there’s a risk that it could happen again and I’m not sure I could survive two days like that.

I know for a fact that my cat won’t!

_P.S. My wife has asked me to point out that the bit about Bon Jovi is entirely without evidence or factual basis and is simply a pre-supposition on my part. Glad to get the legal part over but I would like to say that she was very excited when I later gave her tickets to a Bon-Jovi concert_