As I wrote my blog post about our toilet catastrophes Monday night, I had somewhat bought into Chris’ illness-induced nonchalant attitude.

“It’s just fine.  I’ll paint the ceiling when it dries.  Don’t worry about it.”

(Can I stress again how bizarre that is for him??  BIZARRE.  The man curses the very concept of home ownership when too much hair gets into the shower and makes it drain slower.)

Although I was still traumatized by the event itself, I bought into the fact that I was far along on the road to recovery.

But the next morning, my friend Julie’s husband Greg read my blog post, left a completely expected snarky comment, and apparently called or texted his wife immediately to tell her (I imagine somewhat amused) of my tragedies.

Julie, being the more sympathetic of the two, texted me her condolences and offered the free advice that another friend had just experienced something similar, and that their insurance company paid for the repairs.

Insurance!  What a novel idea!  Last time we had a homeowner’s insurance claim (which happened to be a month before Noah was born), I simply called our agent, he took the claims information immediately over the phone, was VERY generous with the repairs that he decided we might need, and had a check in my mailbox in two days – a check that covered our expenses, our deductible, a couple house payments, and quite a few boxes of chocolate to medicate my trauma.

(From both the house repairs and the upcoming birth of my son.)

Back to present day.  Thanks to Julie’s fabulous idea, without consulting my still-recovering husband, I called our agent and began the claims process.

But I suppose our damages sounded worse than last time, because our agent started throwing out scary phrases.


“Water Mitigation”

“New Carpet”

“On-Site Assessment”

And I immediately began to feel as if I had perhaps stepped out of my area of expertise.

But it was too late – they had effectively scared me that if we didn’t check it all out, our house could imminently cave in under the pressure of a secret under-floor river of sewage.

So on Tuesday evening, the REAL chaos began.

ServPro brought two man-sized dehumidifiers, each with the decibel level of a Jet Engine, and six blowers that unimaginably multiplied the cacophony.

ServPro Dehumidifier

One set was put in Ali’s bathroom (now known as Ground Zero), and the other in my kitchen, meaning that there was no escaping of the mind-numbing, patience-ruining noise that otherwise could only be caused by twenty-six angry toddlers.

And they were to stay on 24/7 for the rest of the week with a technician from ServPro stopping by daily to check their progress and bring me grave, graver, and gravest news.

(I did begin to wonder if I had never called the insurance company what would have happened.  Could we, perhaps, have blissfully lived the rest of our lives without knowing that a fountain flowed deep and wide deep and wide under our tiles??  Or perhaps, ten years down the road, our floor would have fallen in Money-Pit Style, and we would have vaguely remembered “that one time, when Ali flooded the bathroom…” and it would have all been much less traumatic, right?)

But alas.

More phrases began being thrown around.

“Large Deductible”

“Rip out the bathroom floor”

“Possibility of sewage in the carpet.”

“Take out the carpet padding.”

As Ali overheard these phrases, coupled with others like,

“Ali flooded her bathroom.”

“She didn’t come get me.”

The guilt welled up in her little soul and burst forth in a manic tirade of hyper, uncontrollable madness.

Chris came and got the kids and took them to the mall one night to give me a break from it all.  And, as they were on the way, Ali explained quite carefully how she in fact was not at all to blame for this catastrophe.

She had followed the rules provided to her, and the rules had failed her.

Later, I convinced her to repeat her dissertation to me with the promise that I would blog it, since I had already told my rather one-sided version of the story.

She was quite relieved to be given the platform to tell things the way they really happened, so here’s her story, from the deepest depths of her mind:



Well I…I wiped four times just like you say I can do before flushing – and you didn’t ever think wiping four times would stop up a potty!

But I wiped four times and…and, and, and…then it stopped up the potty and then I flushed it again like Daddy always tells me to do and then it didn’t work but then I finished wiping in your bathroom and went back in my room and almost finished quiet time. 

Well I was in quiet time and, I, and, I, um….

And I looked at my carpet and it was really wet, and then when I went in my bathroom it was flooded.

I tried to talk to you like about five times on my monitor and, and um…

And you wouldn’t answer so then I waited.


I didn’t come downstairs because I thought you wouldn’t be happy with me because…because you always said that I couldn’t come downstairs when Noah was asleep because I don’t want to wake Noah up.

I almost played but not quite – but that’s funny!  And then in one second, you came upstairs.


So there you have it, America.  The judgment is in your hands.

Was Ali to blame for a lack of common sense to understand an emergency when she found herself in one?

Or were her parents to blame for shackling her with paralyzing rules, thereby setting her up for destruction?

Epilogue: The bathroom is still in question as to whether all flooring will have to be removed.  The kitchen has been cleared for repainting, Ali’s room is partially carpet-padless, and one set of blowers are still relentlessly demolishing my resolve to live.

42 thoughts on “The First-Hand Report.

  1. A few words: Flushable moist wipes and only 2 are allowed per potty visit.

    As far as the blame game, that’s a toss up. Children, like men, have to have EVERYTHING spelled out for them, otherwise the rules are left to their interpretation and you can’t be assured that their common sense is fully intact. :D

    1. Oh yeah. Flushable wipes, with a firm limit of 2 per flush, have saved our persnickety toilet many times over. They are also much loved by the boy who has a hard time getting himself clean, and the girl who tends to over-do butt cleanliness.

  2. Not that I’m in the business of blaming children, but I’m sadly making this a little bit more of Ali’s fault than yours. I understand age is a major part of this, but had it been flames shooting out of a wall socket in her room, surely she would have known to come get you, not just wait for you to magically appear.

    It’s amazing that you have such a rule following child, but it’s hard to make a child aware that sometimes rules HAVE to be broken, especially when something is majorly wrong.

    Sadly, I’m sure Ali’s guilt complex is working overtime, and I would have to bend over backwards to make sure that she didn’t feel worse about it than she already does, but you better believe I would store up the story for when she is older!

    1. I’m actually not sure if she would have come and gotten me for flames, either. She’s not the type of kid that’s going to be on the evening news for her amazing response in the midst of an emergency.

  3. I say Ali is innocent, innocent I tell you! She followed the rules and now you want to burn her at the stake. I believe mom would be the one to blame for not responding to the call for help. And how long is nap time? Oh yeah, same amount of time to blog? So who is really to blame?!…,Love ya Rach!

  4. The grandmother in me says: Poor Ali. She is NOT to blame. Poor terrified Ali, with so many rules to follow and SERIOUS consequences should she fail to obey them. SHAME on Mommy for not turning on the monitor. What if something really horrible had happened? Poor Ali.

    The mom in me says: GROUNDED for LIFE!

  5. ugh, ugh, ugh! i am so sorry, rachel. this is exactly what happened when we had to get new carpet due to a toilet flood last spring. i wish i would have said something about water mitigation as well.

    i have now lived through water mitigation twice in my current house. and oh, those blowers. enough to make you want to lose it. i’m so, so sorry you have had this happen.

    our first flood was due to a huge rain event in 2010 and just tons of water came into our basement. that was not at all covered by insurance. we had to rip out carpet, replace insulation and dry wall, paint the cinder block with drylock, stain and seal the floor, and repaint walls, most of which done by a contractor. i never totaled up the cost… i didn’t think i could handle knowing a final amount.

    but our toilet flood was mostly covered by insurance. because we had to replace so much carpet, we went ahead and sprung out of pocket for two more additional rooms of carpeting so that it would all match on the main floor of our house.

    please, if there is anything you need or want to talk about, do not hesitate to contact me, a fellow sufferer/survivor of a toilet flood.

  6. I must say the person, who shall remain unnamed, who did not turn the moniter on is at fault. We all know Ali follows all rules to the T. She would not even let me play a game last time I was there because it was not for us to play, they were Mommy and Daddy’s game. Think how she must have been panicing when said person did now answer her calls of anguish. I can see no way Ali is to blame since she ALWAYS does what said person tells her to do and knows there will be consequences if she does not. Now, can I still come visit?

  7. My parents’ washing machine flooded the laundry room and downstairs bathroom. Destroyed the flooring and the bathroom vanity.

    My mom’s response?

    “OMG I get a new bathroom!!! Finally!!!”

    Only in a contractor’s family is a flooded bathroom cause for celebration.

    And since my dad did all the work the insurance check also bought them a new stove and microwave. Sick.

    1. That’s awesome. I’m sure I’d be excited about new flooring also, except that I HATE chaos. My house is not always neat, but I DO prefer my furniture to be in the right place at all times.

  8. when I read Ali’s testimony I caught the phrase “I flushed it again like Daddy always tells me to do”. Look no further.

  9. Accidents happen. Ali’s developing brain still has a lot to do before Common Sense is fully installed… even adolescents can have a bewildering lack of that due to lack of Total Brain Development. You did forget to turn on the monitor, but again accidents happen, and on any other day it would have been no big deal. It just all combined into the perfect storm for your unfortunate family. Forget the blame in both directions, it just makes it harder to get past it all.

    That said, prepare to relish the retelling of this story at family gatherings and to future boyfriends in the years to come. I’m sure with the practiced retelling of it you will polish it into quite the gem of great entertainment.

    I hope that the blowers and dehumidifiers finish their jobs quickly and and that all repairs are completed soon. So sorry about the Large Deductible part of the equation!

  10. Oh, what a nightmare! But her side of the story is so very reasonable and cute. Someday you’ll probably laugh at this, right? Or so the old folks tell us….

  11. 2 weeks after the baby was born my kids flooded their bathroom with sightly piddly but poop-free water. It’s a one story house so no ruined ceilings. We spent most of the day sucking up the water and then 2 more days with fans before it was finally dry. Now the carpet looks funny. Throughout all that it never occurred to us to involve insurance. Now I’m wondering.

  12. I’m with Karen on this one, it was a confluence of unfortunate events and is either nobody’s or everybody’s fault. But seriously, that is so miserable! Sending warm and soothing thoughts your way!

  13. Ugh the thought of the blowers making all that noise makes me cringe. I hate that kind of thing. I’d definitely say it wasn’t Ali’s fault since she followed all required protocol. Haha :) but not yours either. Your only fault was forgetting the monitor which normally wouldn’t be tragic.

    Now I’m wondering if I should have been more concerned when K flooded our upstairs bathroom (thankfully w/clean water) and our bedroom cieling leaked. Hopefully there’s not toxic mold growing in there or something!

  14. Really, I think we need to bring in Judge Judy to arbitrate this one, assuming that she is still alive, that is. In her absence, I’m going to go with Ali, just because she is cuter. See that is what happens when you leave these things to the masses, total chaos ensues! The whole insurance thing sounds like a nightmare! Hopefully Ali won’t develop any bowel/psychological issues as a result of this whole thing! I can just see her discussing this in therapy 40 years from now. She’ll say something like, “If my mom had just turned on the monitor, it all could have been avoided. Now, I have no job, no friends, no husband, no children, no dreams. In addition, I have a panic attack every time I have to go to the bathroom.” The therapist will nod her head sagely and say, “You’re absolutely right, everything that has gone wrong in your life can clearly be traced back to the ‘bathroom incident’. If only your mother had turned on the monitor, you would be president now and as such, there would be world peace.” So how does it feel to be responsible for ruining world peace? I hope you’re happy with yourself! :-)

    1. Ha! Yes, I can totally see this one coming up in therapy. I’ll try to write it down in “Ali’s future trauma” book to make the digging easier for her psychoanalyst.

  15. Upstairs toilets are accidents waiting to happen! I think the blame can be shared….you are fortunate to have a rule-following child…though it is not foolproof as you have learned. You will indeed be telling young moms to enjoy every minute, probably before you are even 65, since these sorts of traumas really do become humorous in time:).

  16. I wish I could say it will only happen once and lesson learned. I am also the parent of a “heavy wiper”. I’m convinced this is a complex disorder fully explained in the handbook I never received. My advise, go back to monitoring bathroom visits so you can detect what the real issue is. Is it physical (trouble wiping), biological (constipation/ diarrhea), or psychological (fear)? A little on the spot coaching and moral support goes a long way. Being open to talking about bodily function now will make it easier for both of you as she gets older and needs your guidance even more. Don’t forget the most important rule: when in doubt NEVER flush! C’est la vie!

  17. Heh! I’m late commenting on this but as a rule follower myself I’ve had the post open as a reminder to comment since you wrote it!

    I’m with Ali – many adults don’t develop common sense, so expecting her to know that the rule was to be broken is unreasonable. Exhibit A: our THREE tenants who didn’t bother to tell us that there was a puddle forming on the ceiling of the bathroom (we don’t use it much) for DAYS. Exhibit B: the tenant who assumed we’d deal with the spontaneously broken fish tank “when we got home” (meanwhile 30 gallons were pouring onto hardwood at steady rate; never mind the poor fish). Luckily tenant 2 in that case had some sense and called us!

    So we’ve decided that common sense needs to be taught.

    The other thing is that as a rule follower, I used to get very anxious if rules have to be broken, especially when I was a kid. It helps to realize that there are multiple sets of rules, and some override others. For instance, if the house is on fire, the rule to get out of the house and get to a safe place trumps rules about public nudity :)

    Might be a good idea to explicitly teach Ali some of these (role play?)

    But ultimately, I think the whole unfortunate incident is not really anyone’s “fault”. Unless you blame the toilet maker! Speaking of which, my mother in law just got a fancy new toilet valve (old one was running). Turns out that technology has advanced and it won’t refill in the event of a leak. Left me wondering if there are valves out there that would have prevented the flooding altogether. If so, maybe you should get some!

    Hope your house is mostly back to normal…

  18. We made it thru 20 years of parenting before this happened to us.
    FYI==Lowe’s (exclusively) has a toilet that is overflow proof. I has holes in the backside, top of the bowl, like the overflow holes in a sink. A tube runs from the holes, down into the floor pipe. Anyway–after our flood, we got one of their nifty flood proof toilets the next week.

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