Getting Off the Poop Train

My 3 year old pooped in the tub, AGAIN.

Doodie: "It's no big deal"

I reacted like I normally do–I screamed bloody murder. What was different this time was that I was conscious of what I was doing.

It was as if I was standing outside of myself watching like a silent bystander. “What an idiot,” I mused as I watched me spiral into more and more anger as the poo contaminated water splashed all over the bathroom floor.

I became painfully aware that the screaming me was running a program without any thought or compassion. The screaming me was angry not because of the situation, but because it seemed like being angry was the proper response. The observer me noted that one of the reasons I was screaming had nothing to do with my son or the poo. I was screaming so that my wife who was in the kitchen could hear. I was screaming because I felt unappreciated for ALWAYS having to clean up the poo.

On hindsight, this is a bit of an exaggeration. I’m sure my wife has cleaned up some of my sons’ poo. In the bigger picture, she has cleaned up a lot of my messes.

I also noticed how my sons did not know why I was screaming, but it adversely affected them. My 3 year old looked confused at first, then disappointed (in me or himself, I could not tell). My 5 year old flinched every time I raised my voice. He is a highly sensitive child, and I forget how loud noises rock his psyche.

So what is the take-away?

Stop running these mindless programs. We all have these programs wired into us. We think we should RE-ACT a certain way when something happens. But the truth is that we are simply ACTing. We can change the script.

from licensetothink.com.au

from licensetothink.com.au

I’ve been doing some research into quantum physics and neurobiology lately. Cutting edge research in what is called neuroplasticity has proven that we can re-wire our brains by thinking different thoughts. We actually have complete control of literally how we shape our brains and, thus, our reality.

As parents, we have to realize that we are programming our children with our ACTING and RE-ACTING. We are shaping their brain webs and scripting how they will see reality. Will they see compassion, empathy, and forgiveness? Or will they see anger, rage, and condemnation?

Next time, I will remember that doodie is “no big deal.” What is a big deal is how I am teaching my children to react to accidents.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

Have you ever noticed yourself mindlessly running a program or RE-ACTING in a way that wasn’t you? Please share.

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74 comments on “Getting Off the Poop Train

  1. Thanks for sharing this great story! Rewiring the brain is hard, but when awareness is leading the way, you stop breaking the habitual cycle of our emotional reacting- Thanks for sharing this fun example! thanks for your work too- because it is not only affecting your kids, but me too! The whole world thanks you! πŸ˜‰

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Jessica. I believe that every time we rewire our thoughts towards compassion we are affecting not just those around us, but all sentient beings, even those we will never meet. We are truly “being transformational.” {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  2. Kelly Kuhn says:

    Fabulous post! I relate because my second daughter pooped in the tub nearly each time she took baths over a several month period, and it was a trying situation (especially my older daughter who was also in the tub!).

    Yes, I have noticed reacting, although they did feel like me at first because they were ingrained. At the same time, they didn’t feel like the good me, but my evil twin. After time, as I learned more about myself and worked through painful feelings about childhood experiences, I became more calm and intentional.

    Parenting is great for highlighting these growth points!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Oh, Kelly, {{{Hugs}}} to you and your older daughter. haha. Bet you went through a lot of bleach during those several months.
      Yes, I felt like there were two mes in that bathroom. I would not call the screaming me an evil twin, since he was only doing what he had been programmed to do. Actually, now that you bring it up, we can call that other twin our “teaching twin,” since he/she teaches us how to be our true selves. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • Kelly Kuhn says:

        Oh, yes, definitely not evil – I’ve used the term “evil twin” for years as a joke, but “teaching twin” is so much better! Words matter.

  3. oliviaobryon says:

    I love the self-awareness that how you react is also conditioning your kids how they should react in the future. I struggle with some similar triggers in my interaction with children that set me off, but I too have been more aware and removed lately as I process how and why I react the way I do– I keep telling myself this is the first step toward rewiring, I’m so happy your post reinforced this, thanks!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yeah, Olivia, I hand it to you for keeping cool as a teacher of young children. It truly is the “first step toward rewiring”–yours and the children’s. Thank you for all you do as a role model for our children. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  4. Miss Fanny P says:

    read this again today as my 3 and a half year old has for the last 2 months been pooing in his pants and won’ use the toilet.
    It’s driving me to distraction. At a loss. I try not to get angry but it’s hard when its not a solid ball. If you get me….

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I totally “get you,” Fanny P, The worst is when they do it 5 minutes after you ask them if they have to poo. Someone told me once that children might do this because they “need” your reaction, so if you change your reaction, then they will stop doing it. What if you said nothing when your son pooed his pants. Just calmly change his diapers without a word. Let me know if you come up with any solutions. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • Miss Fanny P says:

        i have tried various reactions now – i guess i need to do indifference but it’s hard as it’s so messy so for me it is even easier to laugh about it but to be reactionless is not me……hmmm…will try

      • Kozo Hattori says:

        Got to be one of the toughest challenges in life–to have equanimity when the poop hits the fan. πŸ™‚ Master that one and everything else in life will be a piece of cake. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  5. merbear74 says:

    Kozo,
    Shit happens. πŸ™‚
    {{{Hugs}}}
    MB

  6. Rohan 7 Things says:

    You are exactly right about the rewiring. In fact there’s a book I think you’d like called Wired for Love, right up your ally I’d say!

    Being aware of our behavior is crucial, eventually we can get out of the habit of those reactions, or at least cut them off quicker but slowing our breath and taking a moment to let things settle.

    Just watch out for those torpedoes lol πŸ˜‰

    Hugs!

    Rohan.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Rohan, Your knowledge astounds me. I just got the sample of Wired for Love sent to my Kindle. Yes, it is right up my alley. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to read about the rewiring for relationships. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  7. The Cutter says:

    I’ve had a child poop in the tub. You can train your brain all you want, it’s VERY difficult not to react negatively when it happens.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, Cutter, especially a few days after the house was cleaned. At least next time it happens I will remember this post, so if I am mad, I will know why I am mad.Thanks for your empathy. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  8. Andrea Brady says:

    Great post, Kozo! I remember the first time I had an “out of body” experience like that … I was 15 and in a rage at my brother for playing his music too loudly (it reverberated through the wall, awful!) I felt like the “real me” was sitting in a corner near the ceiling, watching as the “other me” ranted. Unfortunately I was too young to understand the lesson; it was only years later that I was able to process and use that experience.

    On a related subject – right on with being able to rewire our brains! By choosing how we think, no question we can change how we feel and react … and it’s so important for our kids, not only to see us model, but to be taught how to do this. I talked about this a bit in my post today, in fact πŸ™‚

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      LOL, Andrea. I thought something totally different when you mentioned “out of body” experience. I was thinking about the bathtub. haha.
      Yes, I want to teach my kids to rewire their brains, so they can undo all the damage I’ve done to them. haha.Will check out your post.
      {{{hugs]} Kozo

  9. Kozo, you are such an amazing Dad. Given the fact that poop is so entirely gross, your response is entirely normal. You are human, you are also a very, very, good human to recognize the impact of your reaction on how it will affect your boys. I applaud you for that and your honesty and your hard work in trying to change and be even better out of love. Parenting small humans has got to be the most challenging job in the world hands down. Coming from a mother of three I can relate to where you are coming from. I made sure to always apologize to my kids after my own mommy temper tantrums and explain it was the situation and not them that I was angry about and then of course have a good old cry at night. Ughh… Plod on my friend, you are doing a terrific job. Those two boys will so appreciate your great efforts when they are older and perhaps become fathers one day themselves… Big, big hugs for sharing your beautiful open heart with us…. and smiles. kimberly.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Kimberly,
      Your words brought tears to my eyes because growing up no one ever apologized to me for the rage and violence I experienced. Looking back, that lack of apology or compassion hurt more than the beatings. Your children are blessed to have a mother who can admit when she was wrong. I will make sure to follow suit. Plodding on as directed. {{{hugs}} to you, my dear friend. Love, Kozo

      • Kozo,

        I am sorry you had to experience any of that when you were a child. The good thing is you are very aware not to pass it along. You have made such an important conscious choice to try your best. It is hard isn’t it to try and never make a mistake, but that is how we learn and nobody is perfect. Your kids will be more than fine, they too will be caring, empathetic and conscious individuals because of their excellent role model. YOU! It gets easier as they get older…trust me on that one. LOL! πŸ™‚

  10. Alison says:

    I second what Kimberly said! I love how conscious you are becoming. Nothing changes before that. It doesn’t mean you will never react with anger again, but it does mean with each time it will have less and less traction, and less meaning. I love how you got to see the truth behind your anger.
    ((((hugs))))
    Alison

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Alison, the next time will have less traction and meaning. I’m working on “popping thought bubbles” during meditation which is teaching me that all thoughts are empty which means that all reality is empty. Combine that with quantum physics and world peace is one thought away. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  11. Kozo,

    I learned this recently with my dog, whenever he would be on the carpet I would get really upset, not because he had pee on it, he didn’t know any better, was a puppy, but because I had to clean it and my husband would just watch or call me whenever the dog had peed. My reaction was always the same whether I discover the pee or not, then I realize that I was changing nothing, I still had to clean it. And the puppy would only get mor excited seeing me upset (damn dog is smarter than me).
    The old “count till 10” works, I use it a lot since I got married.
    As usual great post.
    Best,
    xx

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Count to ten is a powerful tool. Also, like Deepak Chopra says, “never get offended.” Like you said, nothing changes. We still have to clean it up. I actually made a bigger mess because I was so angry. If I would have been calm, I could have cleaned up the tub with less collateral damage. Thanks for wisdom. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  12. Thanks for linking to me and thanks for the reminder that they react to the way that we react…it is so important to always have that in our minds as we live our life. Just today I TOTALLY overreacted to my husband unnecessarily and I just feel terrible. However, I was totally in control of that reaction (over reaction) and I knew that I was doing it and I still couldn’t stop. Thanks for the reminder that I have to make my IMPROVED reactions a priority!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I’ve done the same thing. I’ve been in arguments where I tell myself, “don’t go there; it will just cause a blow out.” 10 minutes later, I am alone thinking, “Why didn’t you listen to yourself.” Imagine how wonderful our lives would be if we just listened to our own advice. haha.
      {{{Hugs}}} Kozo
      p.s.
      Loved your article. I especially liked how you have a special category called “Even the Poopy Stuff.” πŸ™‚

  13. 1EarthUnited says:

    LOL, poop tends to be a reoccurring theme in your life. I know it’s definitely not funny when it’s happening to you, but for everyone else – LIVE, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!
    I have a feeling the universe is trying to teach you something, now that your self awareness has grown to the point where you can distance your “self” and detach from the situation – you may still experience several more “accidents” until you shift. By that time, u’ll mellow out with wisdom & u’r son should grow out of his poopie phase. In any case, we all have to clean up our karmic crap – life’s just messy that way but we can still laugh with you! Thx for another mindful post Kozosan.
    *Bowing*

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love that, Maddy, “we all have to clean up our karmic crap.” Yes, I have to remind myself of what Bashar calls the echo. I know this will keep happening until I change my reaction. Self-awareness is the first step. Now I need to change the reaction. Then reality will change. Step by step. Love seeing your earth heart on this blog. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  14. KM Huber says:

    Great post, Kozo, as once again, your vulnerability reminds us that the considered response is always preferable to reacting. It is only in my later years that I am better at responding than reacting but still, I have my moments. Good for you for teaching your sons the mindful approach.
    KM

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I love replacing “re-acting” with “responding.” Responding seems like helping others. The way an ambulance responds to a call. Re-acting seems like a programmed act that we don’t have control over. Thank you for pointing out that difference, KM. {{{hugs]}} Koz

  15. LOL we all have our triggers and if you can watch yourself in a more objective way you’re already on the path of changing your automated programmes! Jenny

  16. diannegray says:

    I love your comment about wiring the brain, Kozo. I read somewhere a few years ago that the brain has channels that in simple terms can be equated to water channels. The more we do something the deeper the channel becomes (I guess a bit like the Grand Canyon) and in that sense it’s very difficult to then change the course of the channel and the habits we’ve developed. I guess this is why rote learning works so well. I find subject about the brain highly intriguing πŸ˜‰

    I find it wonderful that ‘observer you’ can see what you are doing when you’re angry, most people can’t do this and one day that poop will be in the bath and ‘observer you’ will react instead {{{hugs}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Dianne, the new research in neuroscience is mind-blowing–no pun intended. Even those deep channels can be re-routed over time. You probably know about how 15 minutes/day of meditation alters the brain over time.
      Haha, the day the observer me responds to the poo will be the day when my son is old enough to clean it up by himself. πŸ™‚
      {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  17. Cathy G says:

    Hi Kozo! As always, your posts put a smile on my face! Isn’t it amazing what we can learn about ourselves in the craziest of circumstances! I admire that you would share this, including the lessons that you’ve learned. Thanks!

  18. So very true, what you say gere . Learning the reactions we see are wired into us by exposure. Write on, my friend!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      We can always re-wire, 1G3AW, but better to just wire something positive into my sons to begin with. No use them having to take the long road that I traveled. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  19. I had one of those moments today too. I reacted harshly towards my daughter and kind of lashed out. So I went for a run, thought it out, and was going to text her an “I’m sorry message” but instead I got to say to her in person, “I’m sorry” and then we were able to talk about how I could have handled it differently as well as her admitting her part in all of it without even expecting it. That made me think that after 18 years I think I am doing this parting thing pretty good! πŸ™‚

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      What a wonderful interaction with your child. TRT. I hope when my sons are 18 that I will be able to have the heartfelt talks with them. Amazing how your daughter admitted to her part. I would have never done that when I was 18. haha.
      {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  20. Sandy says:

    LMAO – Leaving Shit Behind, that’s all I’m gonna say – Lol! Great mindful post!
    Much Love, Sandy

  21. “I was screaming so that my wife who was in the kitchen could hear…”

    Oh my God. I have done that too, for poop, messes, and all kinds of trivial things. I did it because I wanted some validation of my frustration or to be rescued by her. I knew I was doing it and felt bad, but didn’t catch myself until after the initial reaction. It would often just shame our child even more (never my intention) and illicit a sigh of frustration on my partner’s part.

    I never stopped to think that she had to deal with all kinds of stuff, probably much of it worse than what I dealt with in the evenings after work, and never had/needed anyone to validate her, rescue her, or otherwise intervene. I am a man, and I am a big baby. God bless women and mothers- Heroes of Parenthood.

    Poop rolls downhill. If I am hard on my little one, she’ll be hard on those who look up to her. I’ve seen it happen. Kids treat other kids the way their parents and older siblings treat them. If I treat my little one with compassion, she’ll pass that compassion along to those she has the power to show it to- but she needs to RECEIVE IT first to pass it on.

    Great post, Kozo πŸ™‚ I’ve been observing this neural plasticity at work in my own life. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks… not that we’re old! Huuugses

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      LOVE this comment. It summarizes everything that I have been working on including self-validation, cultivating compassion, and gender differences.
      I also love what you said about “poop rolls downhill.” Yes, we need to give our kids compassion first so they can pass it on.
      This comment is why I love blogging, WNL. We get feedback that re-affirms and expands our beliefs and efforts. Thank you so much. Yes, this old dog is learning new tricks everyday. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  22. Geo Sans says:

    I need

    to re-program

    my mind

    every morning

    ~

    re-identify

    attributes

    to shape

    my day

    to shape

    my relationships

    with myself

    with others

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I do the same thing, Geo Sans. Sometimes I get frustrated when I fall back into my old programs, but one of the new programs is self-compassion, so I am truly a work in progress. Here’s to shaping our day and relationships towards peace. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  23. Ah yes, I had those moments when my daughters were younger. Now, I have those moments all because I am… essentially human and in that essence, I react as opposed to be aware and conscious.

    Getting better and better every day!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I hear a lot of awareness in your comment, Louise (if that makes any sense). One of the things we say before we eat dinner is “everyday I’m getting better and better.” That is all we can expect or ask for, isn’t it? {{{hugs}} Kozo

  24. BroadBlogs says:

    Great title. What a great metaphor.

    Thanks for helping us all to move out of mere reaction.

  25. Sunshine says:

    i got it. maybe, Kozo, it is time to stop the bath and start the shower instead. or was your son taking a shower? perhaps all the warmness loosens his bowels and oopsie. a quick shower to prevent the muscles to relax and expel. ☺ or, you can think, a family that poops together stays together…☺ or maybe i should stop joking around. πŸ™‚
    thanks for another thoughtful post. ☼sunHUGS… and you are doing a great job, dad Kozo…and mom in the kitchen.

  26. Athena Brady says:

    Funny Kozo, lately I have noticed alot of my own scripts but in a slightly different way. I have noticed that they still my vitality and energy and exhaust me. As you say we can rewire our brains to think different thoughts. You are a good dad Kozo, too hard on yourself sometimes but you have the amazing capacity to inspire others, a great post.

  27. Eileen says:

    Love this, the truth of it, the memory of being there, and feeling that my entire life centered around poop! But you got it in a nutshell, our real life centers around our relationships with those we love, even the pooper.

  28. Kylie says:

    Oh yes, all the time, especially when I’m feeling stretched and unappreciated as a parent. I think those parenting tapes are the strongest ones we are wired with, because we learned them so early. All we can do is try to realize what we are doing and reprogram ourselves, bit by bit. And hope that our children will be a little calmer as parents.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I believe that we can make our children calmer as parents by being calmer ourselves right now. Why wait until they get older? Bring the peace now. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

      • Kylie says:

        Yep!!!
        My husband is so good at this. He meditates daily, and it really helps him find that reserve of calm. It’s harder for me, but I’m getting better at it. Takes practice.
        I love your posts.

  29. utesmile says:

    Parenting is not easy and when unusual things we need to react. I do remember once I made a mess of the kitchen by accident as a teenager and my mum screamed at me. I cleaned it up, but it has taught me things. I am usually calm and when things happen I cannot make them dissappear or undo them, let’s deal with them in a calm manner and teach and talk about it how it can be avoided or how we do it differently. That is my way of dealing with things like that!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Be calm and teach. Not much better advice than that, Ute. Problem for me is that I find it hard to remember good advice in the heat of the moment–or in this case, the smell of the moment. haha
      {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  30. Amazing! What fortunate children who have a father like you who is becoming more conscious! Hope you had an amazing Father’s Day! xoxo

    As for me, I can hear the voice in my head at times. I also feel that “real reason you are doing this” I imagine you felt when you realized that you were screaming so your wife could hear you. LOL I find it funny at times because I realize, it’s not me! It’s not real and I don’t have to go along with this either.

    Thanks for sharing, Kozo! Glad I’m finally getting a chance to catch up on your blog.

  31. […] Getting off the poop train […]

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