It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Oh, poo…

“Why do you have a garden on your porch, Mary?”

The children are very impressed by the range of flowers sheltering under the slatted chairs on the porch. Each one has had to stop and hunker down on their way in the front door, check out the colours.

“It’s on my porch for a while, but soon I’m going to put those flowers in the garden. Will that be fun?”

“You has a garden?” Astute kid. Knows the difference between “garden” and “arid wasteland”.

“Well, maybe I don’t have one just yet, sweetie, but once I fill it up with these plants, I will!”

The children mill about as I prepare. Spade, hose, manure (cow; it was cheaper than sheep; is there a difference?), little plastic pots of flowers. Since it is a very small plot, the tots are not allowed in. Five toddlers would trample every bloom in my four-to-six square metres in about 90 seconds. Instead, I have all sorts of kid-friendly activities planned for them. They will fetch and carry, toss vegetable debris into the bin for recycling. Lucky us, here in Ottawa: we have curbside yard waste collection throughout spring, summer, and fall. They will watch and comment and question…

They will ride the ride-on cars and cover my driveway with chalk art. Mary’s kinda boring, after all. She’s just digging holes. They do that three times a week at the park. And she doesn’t even have any sand toys. Where are the buckets and the tractors? Grown-ups make everything boring…

Me, I’m having a great time, though what with my surprisingly long fingernails it’s clear that gardening gloves will be my next horticultural investment… (Where did those nails come from, anyway? Yay for calcium supplements!)

I dig the three trenches into which I’m going to place the daisies at the recommended 8-inch intervals. (I figured three trenches were easier to dig than 18 separate holes.)

The bag of manure lies in the drive, where the children ride and chalk. I give it a whack with the pointed tip of the spade. Such unorthodox behaviour draws the tots like flies to … manure. (The uncomposted stuff, unlike the dark and odour-free version in the bag.) I am immersed in a swirling cloud of curious tots and questions.

“Why are you hitting the bag with the shovel?”
“Did you gots to dig a hole in the bag, Mary?”
“What’s in the bag?”
“What is ma-nooowa?”

“EEEEEWWWW!!!” Anna is practically falling over, she’s laughing so hard. The other four are merely dumbfounded.

“You gots poo in that bag?”
“Where did the poo come from?”
“You BOUGHT POO? From the STORE???”
*blink* (Timmy)
*blink* (Nigel)
*blink* (Malli)
*blink* (Emily)

“Why is there poo in a bag?”
“Who put their poo in the bag?”

Nigel is the first to recover from the shock, and comments sagely. “Milk comes from cows. And poo. Cows make milk and poo.”

Indeed. Mary continues. The interrogation continues.

“Why are you picking it up?”
“Is you picking up POO in your HANDS???”
“It’s clean poo?!?!”
“Why are you putting it in the hole?”

THIS is the most interesting thing I have done in WEEKS. Mary is playing with poo. With her bare hands. It doesn’t look like poo, granted. It doesn’t smell like it, either. Maybe cows make funny poo? But Mary is playing with POO!

We shall overlook the fact — because the tots obviously have — that I deal with the real, uncomposted human variety several times a day, also with my bare hands. Well, okay. With at least one layer of baby wipe between me and it, but, you know. Mary and poo, we go way back.

But today, Mary is picking up COW POO in her BARE HANDS and putting in the GARDEN for the FLOWERS TO EAT.

If that’s not really weird, what is?

Weird, and really, really interesting.

At the end of the day, the parents are bombarded with largely incoherent stories about Mary! COW POO! POO IN A BAG! flowers EAT POO! POO inna hole! POO from a store!

Oh, and we planted some flowers, too.


May 30, 2008 - Posted by | eeewww, Ottawa, outings |


  1. Just the giggle I needed on a kind of gray Friday when my inclination is to feel sorry for myself. Wish I could have seen the parents faces when they heard the tales of poo!

    They were warm and receptive, as always, then looked to me for clarification. Pretty normal adult response in the face of enthusiastic toddler inexplicability. 🙂

    Comment by kim | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. Bwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha – oh my aching stomach. I can see it now.

    Thanks, I needed that laugh to get me through the end of the week.

    Cindy! Hey, there! And yes, aren’t they great? Something about toddlers and poop stories. Darcy and George were the kings of poop stories, as I recall…

    Comment by Cindy C | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. “BWAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAaaa,” indeed! Silly Mary, buying clean cow poop in a bag at the store! And putting it in a hole for the flowers to eat!

    But when you put it that way, it does sound a tad … strange.

    Thanks for the laugh!

    A lot of things sound strange when you have to explain them to someone who just doesn’t get the framework. And when you’re done explaining it, they suddenly look… very strange! We take a lot of SERIOUSLY WEIRD things for granted, we adults. 😀

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Too funny!! Love Anna’s reaction.

    Anna is ALWAYS on the lookout for the funny side. I love that kid.

    Comment by Bethany | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. Oh, my sides hurt.

    That has to be the funniest thing I’ve ever read on a blog.

    “Mary and poo, we go way back.” OMG, I nearly bust a gut.

    The *blink*, *blink*, *blink*, *blink* was a great touch.

    Hee. I fine-tuned their reactions for comic effect, but they really didn’t get it. I’m glad you liked the “Mary and poo” like. It made me grin as I wrote it!

    Comment by Zayna | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. Poo and I go way back, too. WAY way back.

    Comment by Tranny Head | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. We compost, so I’m always explaining to neighborhood children that worms eat the old food and then when they poop we call it “dirt”. The idea that dirt IS worm poop is just too much to handle. Funny stuff, dirt.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  8. This is the best story ever. “Plants EAT poo?” hee hee.

    I’ve laughed myself into a headache picturing this post in my head. Thanks Mary!! 😀

    Comment by rambleicious | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  9. When I was a child and my parents had a full-time gardener, he used to use different animals’ manure for different purposes. Horse muck had a lot of straw in it from the stable, so it was good for adding body to a heavy soil, but it had a lot of weed seeds from the partly-undigested grass and hay so had to be well composted. Cow also was strawy but not so weedy. Sheep muck was rare and prized as the sheep stayed out all year and it had to be picked up bit by bit and was also smaller and less bulky. He usually made it into a liquid manure – put some in a covered bucket with water then diluted the resultant brown liquid – for perfecting prize blooms and crops. I think it was particularly good for begonias.

    *cough* I know a lot about poo.

    Comment by Z | May 31, 2008 | Reply

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