I cursed myself yesterday.  In my blog post, I mentioned Ali’s propensity to Quiet Time Bathroom Catastrophes.

Apparently she felt as if I was being hyperbolic about her issues, and wanted to show me what a true Bathroom Catastrophe looked like.


It all started in Quiet Time, the aforementioned birthplace of all bathroom catastrophes.

I was doing laundry, working on my computer, and enjoying the mental peace that only comes when all children are occupied with napping or quieting.

Then I heard a rhythmic noise.  Out of place with the washer and dryer, I stopped typing and listened.  It sounded like a faint knocking.

I listened more, then walked out of my office to see if I could tell what it was.

Which is when I realized that dripping sounds a lot like knocking.

I looked up at the kitchen ceiling.

No, no, no, no, nononononononoNO!


(No, not no to the ugly 80’s popcorn ceiling. I already knew about that.)

I took off in a dead sprint into the hallway and up the stairs, uncaring that I would probably wake Noah up with our squeakily obnoxious stairs.

Ali met me at the top of the stairs.

“I tried to tell you in the monitor – I’ve got a problem in the bathroom.”

I walked into her bathroom.

Or rather, SWAM.

I quickly realized what had happened: An abominable eclipse of revolting circumstances: her toilet was clogged AND the toilet ball had gotten in between the plug and the drain, creating an endless running of new water vomiting out of the toilet bowl.

“I only wiped four times before flushing!”

“Why didn’t you come get me?”

“Well, I talked to you five times on my monitor.  When you didn’t answer, I went in your bathroom and finished wiping.  Then you came up the stairs!”

What followed was 30 minutes of the outer circle of Dante’s inferno, including frantic cutting off of the water, plunging of the toilet, yelling at forcefully telling Ali to find every towel in the house, sopping an entire room, stripping out of my soaked clothing in which I’d been surfing the peaks, and desperate prayers for Lazarus to reach out of Abraham’s bosom and dip the tip of his finger in (clean) water and cool my tongue.

By the time I got back downstairs, the ceiling décor had grown impressively.


I breathed.  In and out, in and out, not at all remembering the supposed fact that children were a blessing.

I checked my receiver for her monitor and realized I’d forgotten to turn it on.

This revelation did not make me more perky.

I called Chris, who incidentally was feeling quite ill but trying to work in spite of his rotting insides, and after politely asking him how he was, I told him,

“I know this isn’t exactly a great day to have a household emergency, but…”

And then I took another breath, remembering my husband’s severe issues with the smallest of spills…

“Ali flooded her bathroom.  Bad.  And it’s dripping into the kitchen.”

This is when I knew exactly how close to death he was, because he apathetically answered, “Okay – just put a pot under the drip.  There’s nothing else you can do – I’ll paint it after it dries.”

I went ahead and called the morgue and told them to send a hearse to his office.

But I obeyed my late husband and placed a pot under the stream, with the added value of placing another towel in it to cut down on the incessant metallic thumps.


Chris did have the wherewithal to ask if any had gotten on any carpet, a possibility that I had not yet explored.

I headed back upstairs, and sure enough, the first two feet of Ali’s carpet was soaked through.

I somehow managed to find yet even more towels, laid them down, and sentenced her to thirty minutes of The Runway of Shame.

Runway of Shame

Then I stopped and appreciated the fact that I previously had no idea how many towels I actually had, if that can be considered a bright spot.



Throughout the day, the kitchen’s Wetness de Toilette grew and the shapes were worthy of cloud watching, once forming a rat,


Then a decapitated duck.


As of writing this Monday evening, it’s a notably impressive Lochness Monster, and by the time you’re reading this tomorrow morning, I predict that it will be a two-headed Tyrannosaurus Rex.

At dinner, Ali asked with a much too easygoing tone, “Why do you keep looking at the ceiling over and over?”


We now have a new Family Catechism, to be repeated at least fifteen times per day.

“How many wipes before you flush?”


“How many squares may you use per wipe?”


“What do you do if you have an emergency and Mommy doesn’t answer you on the monitor?”

“Come downstairs.”

“When do you come downstairs?”

“Right away.”

“Why will you do this?”

“So that I don’t break the house.”


The sequel can be found here.

65 thoughts on “Total Eclipse of the Toilet.

    1. Yes. But a bit of common sense would have called for a louder calling voice. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure she has a lot of said common sense.

      1. Yes, common sense does not seem to be the strong suite of any 4 year old. I look at mine and wonder where in the world her head is and totally feel like saying, “DUH” to her. ;P

  1. Oh. Rachel. I just hope that it was clean water pouring out of that toilet. I have horrible issues about overflowing toilets. I have been known to stand by the door with the plunger while my kids use the toilet, just in case. Ali’s really lucky you’re her mum, because I might have made her sleep in a tent for a week. You can’t flood the bushes.

      1. hahaha. My four year old is terrified of automatic flushers. He will NOT use the bathroom in any retail establishment we visit. He had a bad experince with a broken automatic flusher in Kohl’s. He was trying to “go” and it would flush over and over. Poor kid, he kept saying, “make it stop, make it stop!”
        Hope your week gets better!

        1. I read the brilliant comment of a mom on this blog or another, somewhere to carry post-it notes in your purse and use them to cover the sensor.

        2. At four, mine is not completely terrified of the “secret flush” toilets (as she calls them) any more, but she does look at them warily and try to pull up her pants while simultaneously covering her ears still. It’s a big improvement from the days when she would cry hysterically during a trip to a public bathroom, screaming in panic at every flush!

  2. All of a sudden, diapers don’t seem so bad (and that’s saying a lot today!) I’m sorry it was/is so awful. Can Chris work from home during all future naptimes? =)

  3. wow. that’s just terrible. there could have also been ripping your clothes and pulling out your hair, weeping and gnashing of teeth. yuck! i agree with katherine. you definitely need a new toilet after all these repeated issues.

    1. But the thing is, the toilet isn’t really the problem. I’m pretty sure that Ali could clog up the Queen of England’s Gold Toilet if she had the opportunity.

  4. Oh my goodness, Rachel! You have been getting hammered! (Or maybe that’s just what you *feel* like doing after something like this happens : )).

    Glad your husband was too sick…er, um…apathetic to get too upset.

    But what I really want to know is: did the squeaky stairs wake up Noah?

    1. Of course it woke Noah up.

      Fortunately, he’s my easygoing child, so just because he got woken up did not mean that he got sprung from his bed.

  5. Yes, I am wondering if Noah woke up.

    What a horrible mess! I wish you the best of luck getting it all fixed back up!

  6. You poor thing! I was excited because we are just on the cusp of self-wiping. Now I’m not so sure if I want it! I hope the ceiling, carpet, etc dry quickly and it is only minor damage done.

    Why do the second children sleep so lightly? A fire engine in my oldests room wouldn’t wake her up, but a tip toe down the hall wakes up my youngest. I’m glad Noah at least didn’t scream throughout the entire fiasco.

    Hope today is a better day.

  7. My hands actually felt dirty after reading this.

    So sorry for yet another toilet tragedy. I had one too, last spring, which resulted in re carpeting the whole first floor of my house.

  8. lolol! Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Rachel….but I was laughing all the way through this post!!! I had a similar incident once at a local grocery store when I had to take my 80 yr old mother (who has Alzheimer’s and is partially blind) to the bathroom. Of course, the toilet in the handicapped stall was plugged already, so we squeeeezed into regular stall. I helped her finish up her business, and to my horror saw a river of water rushing over our feet from the stall next door. A woman decided to try to flush the toilet in the handicap stall instead of trying another stall. Ever try to get an elderly woman and yourself out of a tiny bathroom stall while pulling up her pants AND pulling the door IN towards you so you can get out….??? It was horrible….but now we can laugh about it. lolol!

    xoxo laurie

  9. Yikes!!! That is a LOT of water (and I speak from only vaguely comparable experience, having had a toilet pipe crack while we were away – no towels necessary but still a BIG mess.)

    If it’s any comfort, your story made us laugh until we cried. My husband was particularly sympathetic to Chris..

    Hopefully Ali will start using less toilet paper now :)
    Does that toilet normally run? Sounds like some of its innards might be due for replacement. Also, I’m sure you don’t want to hear this but we’d open that ceiling up (or at least poke a small hole for drainage in the worst spots) to help dry it out before you get mold (or stray drips running into electrical outlets – it’s amazing how far even a small amount of water can travel) Cuz that’s a lot of water!
    Hope it dries out quickly!

  10. Oh my! I am dying over here right now. Toilet water, clean or not, just creeps me out on every level. lol Though clean toilet water clearly a lot better than the unclean, still I shudder. I would have found myself saying many crazy and unsuitable words. I get that way over the possibility of the toilet overflowing as I plunge away like a woman who has gone completely mad. lol

  11. Ooh, poor you! Definitely a chocolate/ glass of wine/ other mommy indulgence kind of day.

    I flooded the laundry a couple of times and the carpet was fine after being pulled up and dried with fans. A bit of carpet shampoo and you couldn’t tell. I hope your ceilings are similarly easy to deal with!

    1. The ceiling will have to be repainted for sure, and the floors are still up for debate – especially the tile in the bathroom.

      And YES – I think my insurance company should include “Vacation for Mommy” in the claim.

  12. Oh yucky!! You know, in my house we get three squares. I make my kids count them, because I had something similar happen. Luckily we have a single story and tile floors, but still gross. I wonder if your ceilings will be ok or if you will have some damage! I’m always so scared of water, it seems like it can do so much!

  13. This may just further prove my theory that God makes kids cute to keep parents from strangling them! (It’s the cute ones you have to look out for- the cuter the kid, the higher the potential to bring a parent to their breaking point!)

  14. I say, use this as an opportunity to scrape that popcorn off your ceiling! I know it can be done. I watched my mom de-popcorn our entire house….and then we moved and she did it again! I have to warn you, it’s not easy and I think the second time almost killed her. But you seem like the type of lady that can handle almost dying, so I think you should give it a try.

  15. Oh no! I thought of you on the night I read of the last toilet travesty, I went home and found that my kitchen sink was plugged. I desparately ran and re-ran and re-ran the garbage disposal, hoping it would unclog itself. Finally, I resorted to telling the less-than-thrilled hubby, who was able to unclog it while making a nasty mess that I got to clean up. I certainly hope a worse situation doesn’t await me at home after reading this. And hopefully your house dries out soon!

  16. My 3 year old has been having bathroom issues lately. She has clogged up the toilet twice this week alone by putting handfuls of tp in the bowl. Apparently if she accidentally rips the paper wrong it is deemed unusable and must go in the bowl and then she gets some more. We chant the mantra about number of squares and yelling for help, but she claims she only “used” 3 squares. We are going through tp so fast I am ready to scream. And the clogs……..oh they get worse each time. I think we need a professional to come in now because the toilet doesn’t seem to work right anymore.

  17. Yikes, Rach!!!! I just read this. SOoooo sorry, dear friend. May the poopiness and misery depart quickly from your abode, and may the potty water evaporate and not leave mildew or stenchy staining behind!

  18. On the bright side…you might have the most obedient, rule-following child ever.

    And as a person who has *ahem* been guilty of an overusage of TP herself, I feel much sympathy. Luckily we’ve never had a flood, but there have been some close calls (and I do remember the toilet flooding a few times when I was a kid and my mom or dad hollering for us to bring tons of towels to sop it up…ewww)

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