My parents always said I was a handful as a toddler. Isn’t that what all parents say about their three year old? Dirt and bugs were my passion. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded, “ant”. Yes, I wanted to be an ant, not an aunt. They were hardworking. Ants always achieved so much in a short amount of time. What I liked most was their superhuman strength. I wished I could lift one hundred times my weight.
I would sit on the ant hills, never picky about which kind of ants. The ones that commonly bit, never bit me. Oh what a sight it was when I’d destroy their carefully crafted homes. They’d scatter and my dad would yell, “Leave them alone!” I didn’t know why my dad would raise his voice. They were just some hills of sand. Besides, I would never act like the boys next door, burning insects with a magnifying glass.
I thought I was invincible. Bees never stung me, and I could also sit on poison ivy without one skin reaction. The dirt and bugs were always calling my name!
I loved pulling the blue plastic pool down from storage on summer days. It was hot from laying out in the sun. I’d grab an icy red popsicle and sit in the lukewarm water. The heat from the beating sun melted my frozen treat, causing it to drip down the sides of the pool. My ant friends always gathered to get a taste of the colorful, sugary goodness.
Even though I loved pool time, baths weren’t my favorite thing. My wonderful parents knew that with my love of playing in the dirt, I needed to be washed in the tub on a frequent basis. I remember the recurring chase down the hall as I created a path of mud behind me. Bath toys were the only things that could lure me in to get clean.
Frequently I scouted out the backyard for what I wanted to explore first. I pulled down leaves from trees, and took vegetables from the garden. I loved sneaking green beans out of sight from my parents before dinner. Other young kids loved tossing a ball or playing tag together. Those games were not for me. I was the only kid in the neighborhood in a dress and bare feet rolling down the grassy hill in our front yard. Life was so carefree.
One day, I was enjoying life outside, per usual. My dad was grilling on the deck, while my siblings played water hose tag, and I slid down the fire-hot metal slide. That was when I spotted something brown in the yard. To me, it appeared to be a kind of dirt I had yet to investigate.
I ran over to it, shuffling through each blade of grass. A strong putrid smell took over. That stench did not keep me from getting closer. Looking over at the brown pile gleaming in the sun, I reached over and placed both hands into the melting goo and picked it up. I jumped up and down, “Got it!”
I had collected something new and stinky, something that attracted so many bugs with wings. Those bugs were new to me too. Butterflies? No. I was not sure.
I walked toward my sister to show her what I found, but she replied, “Ew!” and ran. My dad was flipping burgers. The joy that this warm, wet, smelly matter brought me did not seem to interest anyone else.
My dad continued to flip the now partially burnt burgers as I approached him. He made eye contact with me and his eyes widened. Bugs were crawling all over my hand and wrist. I smiled.
Lifting my hand full of hot deuce, my dad backed up. “Drop it!” he shouted. He pinched his nose in disgust. The smell of waste overshadowed the smell of dinner on the grill. My overwhelming sense of pride had now been shot down. The few words I knew came out of my mouth.
“Look dada, look!” I giggled with glee. I waved the poop into the air as if my dad didn’t see it the first time I showed him.
My dad responded with fear once again, “Drop it! Dirty!”
I giggled as my dad, in slow mo, reached forward and slapped my new finding out of my hand. “That’s poooooop!”
Tears began to stream down my face. “No dada!”
This stinky animal excrement flung in the air like a bird taking off to fly. Both of us ran the opposite direction of the feces.
My sister laughed in the background. I laid on the ground and cried and cried, slamming my hands on the deck.
The stool splattered as it hit the ground and my dad flinched. I basked in the stinky shower of crap. It was glorious (for me).
My dad covered his mouth and shouted, “That was cat shit!”
That was a word I had never heard before and quickly mimicked, “Cat shit!” Not only did I now need a bath, but I was also repeating the words, “Cat shit! Cat shit!” My mother came dashing out of the house.
“Did I just hear what I think I heard? What is all over you?”
With a smirk on my face I repeated, “Cat shit!”
My dad, in shock by the gag-worthy smell and the words coming out of my mouth, “ It slipped out of my mouth, I’m sorry!”
My mom carried me to the hose stomping her feet. I wiggled around in her arms as she dodged each movement of my poop covered arms. She held me away from her as she sprayed me with cold water.
While cleaning me off, a light bulb went off in my little toddler brain.
I spit the cold hose water out of my mouth. “I don’t want to be an ant when I grow up.”
“Oh yeah?” She wrapped me in a towel.
“I wanna be Cat shit.”