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YO MAMA: Family bonding over dog poop

Image Credit: PEXELS



We assembled at the maple tree at the furthest corner of our backyard where the poop bucket and shovel lived.

“All right,” said Dad, leaning on the shovel. “Mom will take the bucket, I’ll do the scooping, and you,” he gestured at our two-year-old son, “will be the spotter.”

The kid did a little fist pump and shrieked “yeah!” Picking up dog poop was one of his most favourite pastimes. Go figure.

He took off running.

“WATCH OUT FOR DOG POOP,” I yelled after him.

Our great Pyrenese puppy took poops that resembled coiled up king cobras and our 13-year-old border collie husky had a very… active digestive system, so the yard was a veritable minefield (after two years of changing poopy diapers, nothing phases you anymore.) Religiously walking the dogs twice a day helped, but poop-scooping remained a weekly chore — especially with a barefooted toddler running about on our rural property.

“MORE,” the kid declared, pointing and jumping excitedly. He’d found one. It was like a treasure hunt.

My husband and I followed, dragging our disgusting tools of the trade behind us. The kid supervised the pick ups closely, making sure to alert us if we missed any or if the poop broke apart mid-scoop and fell off the shovel. He was very diligent with his inspections.

We had taught the kid to search in a grid formation, working his way back and forth across the yard.

Around and around we went, dad scooping, me bucketing, and the kid scanning the ground.

I knew that one day, our son would scoff at such chores so I was cherishing his enthusiasm while it lasted.

It was fun to be working together as a family, each of us with our respective jobs. The task met my criteria for a great activity: everyone was engaged, we were outside, there was learning happening, and most importantly, we were actually getting chores done outside of nap time. That was a big win these days.

The activity also afforded lots of opportunities for potty humour, which our son already enjoyed tremendously. Occasionally, one of us (usually me) would toss a pinecone at Dad and watch him freak out thinking it was poop. The kid found this prank positively hilarious. He developed it further by pretending to eat said pine cone with an exaggerated “mmmmmmmm” sound.

The scene wasn’t exactly what I had pictured in my early fantasies about parenting.

I pictured cuddling up on the couch reading stories, pushing him on his first bike, playing in the sandbox. All the cliche, hallmark moments I guess. But that’s what I’ve come to love about being a parent: the boring, mundane tasks of life are so much more fun with a kid around. There’s a lot less boredom and a whole lot more entertainment.

I never thought I could enjoy picking up dog poop so much.

Much later, after we had dumped the bucket in a secure location and were sitting with some visitors in the backyard, our son was asked what he did that day. He pointed to the shovel and bucket.

“Oh, whose poop were you picking up?” our friend asked, obviously thinking he would name one of our two dogs.

A sly smile spread slowly across the kid’s face. He was becoming quite the opportunistic prankster. He turned and pointed at my husband.


— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.


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