The sofa is soiled.
March 30, 2013 9:48 AM   Subscribe

There was poop on the sofa after the party. What do we do?

There was a little get-together at the neighbors' house. There were 9 people there, six adults and three kids. When we started tidying up, a substance approximately the dimensions of a fun-size candy bar was discovered resting between two couch cushions. The only people there were the hosts and I. The hosts refused to touch it, and so I was deputized to pick it up with toilet paper. It was most definitely fecal material. Given the size and condition, it appeared human, fresh, and not tracked in from somewhere. The whole room is carpeted and there was no sign anywhere but the sofa.

The hosts were understandably horrified, expressed a burning desire to figure out what happened but don't want to say anything to any of the guests. They are both "guess" culture, I am definitely "ask".

Complications:

Two of the kids at the party are my children, one adult is my partner. Both my kids were near enough to the sofa that it could have been them, potentially.

After the discovery I went home and scrutinized the kids' laundry and shoes. There was no sign that the poo was either emitted or tracked in by them. I also asked my partner, who denied any knowledge of the situation. Both of us had removed our shoes in the hosts' house.

Four of the adults never sat on the sofa.

Both the hosts sat on that sofa.

The other kid at the party, who is about 10, laid on that sofa for a while, then moved over to the sofa next to me. Their parent was sitting on the floor the whole time.

There was definitely a smell in the air midway through the festivities. I actually took the time to speak to the host in the kitchen and say "look, i'm sure you can smell what's going on out there and I just want you to know - it's not me farting up a storm in your house, okay?" They laughed but admitted that the smell was noticeable, and jokingly said that I was trying to blame the kid next to me on the couch for my stomach discomfort. I said that it was probably the host's food making everyone ill, we both laughed, and then went back into the living room.

Everyone there was wearing long trousers. It seems inconceivable that someone could actually befoul themselves to the point where excrement would fall out the leg of their pants and not react in a way that would be noticeable to others.

After the sticky discovery, the hosts and I talked about the situation and all agreed it was most likely the third kid at the party. They would like for the parent to know, but are reluctant to bring it up themselves, and indicated they'd prefer someone else brought it up.

I can see the merits of either saying something, or keeping quiet, but I feel like if the parent is going to be told, it should be right away. Alternatively, I could just ask the kid directly. Given the relationships of this group of neighbors, it's unlikely that this event will stay much of a secret, and I think it's kindest for the kid who is likely to be blamed, and their parent, to know immediately rather than hear about it much later. However they choose to resolve things with the host is up to them.

I want to know if I should say something, and how to best broach the topic.

Throwaway email: soiledsofa@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh Jesus, don't bother tracking down the poopetrator. Just wash the cushion with a bit of detergent and blot it. Use a little hydrogen peroxide (test for color issues first) if you want to kill the cooties.
posted by zippy at 9:53 AM on March 30, 2013 [74 favorites]


Blame the kids. Wash the couch.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


If my 10 year old pooped anywhere other than the toilet, I'd want to know! Whether this is a physical or behavioral issue is irrelevant.

I wouldn't worry about assigning blame. I might email if calling felt difficult. I'd share facts, though certainly not all the details about who it could be and why. You don't know and it doesn't matter.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:55 AM on March 30, 2013


What I mean is, yeah, keep an eye on the kids for this issue, but let all the oh my God the dramaz and embarrassment with the neighbors go. Because no good comes from that.
posted by zippy at 10:00 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Say nothing. If your neighbors want to pursue talking to the parent, that's on them. This is none of your business, really, and at any rate the discussion with the hosts seems to have settled it. Do not make this your battle or become the Proxy Poo Police.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:00 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


WOW.

I think you have two legit options. One, chalk it up to "shit happens" (sorry, had to) and say nothing. This is so excruciatingly embarrassing for everybody that it is ok to just pretend it didn't happen. If the hosts are too embarrassed to ask, they really cannot expect anyone else to do it. The sofa needs to get cleaned with... god, I don't even know, bleach if possible, but if the stains will show then call the local upholstery shop and ask them what the options are.

Two, the hosts call the parents of the ten year old. The justification here would be that this bizarre behavior might be an indicator of something seriously wrong, and that they might want to check in with their kid. But honestly? I wouldn't. I feel like this is so awful that it will ruin the friendships and maybe really screw up the kid (ok the kid is already really screwed up but... ugh.) Just don't invite them over anymore.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am really puzzled by why this entire situation is being handled by you in the first place. This is neither your sofa and (potentially) not even your child. Don't get involved any further.
posted by sm1tten at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2013 [67 favorites]


Given the relationships of this group of neighbors, it's unlikely that this event will stay much of a secret, and I think it's kindest for the kid who is likely to be blamed, and their parent, to know immediately rather than hear about it much later.

Why can't this stay a secret? The idea of neighbors gossiping about a child's accident is really repugnant. Just keep it to yourselves.

Unless the sofa owners want financial compensation for the cleaning, if this was a one-time incident it's kinder to let it go, and if it's a recurring problem then the parents already know and are mortified.
posted by lalex at 10:02 AM on March 30, 2013 [34 favorites]


On review: not your kids, not your sofa, so (ahem) butt out.
posted by zippy at 10:07 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would ask your kids if they saw anything, since their focus is different.
posted by xo at 10:07 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't make this an issue. This is not worth even potentially ruining friendships over. Whoever did it is most likely a) a child and b) already mortified. There were apparently times when you and hosts were in the kitchen, which means your run-down of who was where when could be flawed.

You can buy enzyme cleaners in pet stores (and some grocery stores) for under $10 that will make any staining disappear completely. Allow them to also erase this from your mind.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:08 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kids doo this kind of shitstuff. Spare the child the embarrassment! Most likely they're already humiliated by the knowledge that they did what they did.

Raise your hand if you never did something this level of weird as a kid and then blocked it out of your memory shortly thereafter.
posted by theraflu at 10:14 AM on March 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is no way to figure out who did this. No one who *might* have done it will ever admit to it (nor will their parents). The ten year old seems to have become the 'dog' in the situation (the dog did it!) which is terrible. Even if he did do it, proving it helps no one. ESPECIALLY him. If you are worried that the neighbors not knowing somehow leaves doubt as to whether or not you did it - it doesn't. They are going to think whatever they want to think.
posted by marimeko at 10:15 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are no "complications": the poop gets cleaned up and this is never spoken of again except maybe fifteen years down the line when you split a bottle of wine with the neighbor, bring the story up in a dramatic whisper, and all have a laugh over it. You certainly, certainly do not attempt to find out who pooped. That's unnecessarily awkward for everyone involved, which now includes this poor AskMe reader.
posted by whitewall at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2013 [23 favorites]


You clearly mean well but involving yourself to this degree could make you seem as if you're trying to....well, throw them off the scent of your own kids having had an accident on the sofa. You might be seen as overcompensating here if you don't just shrug, express your sympathies, and leave the ball in their court where it belongs.

Let it go. And don't gossip about it. That, to me, is actually grosser than a mystery turd or two in the sofa after a party with kids in attendance.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:23 AM on March 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't think it's too likely that anyone pooped on the couch while sitting there.

They more probably went to the bathroom and brought it back and placed it there.

This person-- child or adult-- has serious problems, and if a child, needs help.

If the child other than yours is behind this, I don't think you can tell the parents unless and until you feel confident that child is being treated well at home.
posted by jamjam at 10:32 AM on March 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


So... let's say you ask the kid (or his parents) and s/he says, "yup, it was me." Then what? Are you going to report that back to the hosts? What are they going to do with this information? If they want recompense for the sofa cleaning, they should deal with it themselves. I have no idea what your role in any of this is, nor your end game.

If I were the perpetrator, I'd 1) be excruciatingly embarrassed and 2) never ever ever admit this to anyone ever. What good is it going to do to shame the kid further? Just forget this ever happened. (My only caveat is that if you have strong suspicion that the kid did it maliciously, but I'd think you would have mentioned that in the question.)
posted by desjardins at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


If any of the kids aren't potty-trained, or are only recently potty-trained, my guess would be it was a "purposeful accident"--that is, the kid needed to poop, was confused, embarrassed, or unsure about asking about the bathroom, and did it surreptitiously on the couch. This would call for having an empathetic discussion with the kids about not being afraid to ask for help in that situation.

If everyone is well past potty-training and was wearing pants then my concern would be this is a psychological, not physiological issue. That is, a true, embarrassing accident would produce a scene, whether from poop on the pants or people running to the bathroom or shocked, embarrassed reactions on the part of the pooper. As none of this happened and the turd was carefully concealed it sounds like somebody (God hopes it's one of the kids) has developed an not-socially-acceptable interest in poop. They may have dropped trou and done the deed while nobody was looking.

Which is a way of saying that if it was one of your kids, you wouldn't necessarily be able to detect evidence because they'd be actively concealing it. Before bringing the thing up with the other parents I would make doubly, triply sure it wasn't one of yours. And maybe have a discussion, without accusation, about the necessity of pooping in appropriate areas.

After that, maybe quietly mention the situation to the other parents, without accusation. Tell them it happened, nobody knows who did it, you've had a discussion about poop with your kids in case they're the culprits and maybe they could do the same with Little Jimmy.

Needless to say, if you give them the slightest whiff that you definitely think it was their kid, they're going to think you're trying to cover up for yours.
posted by schroedinger at 10:36 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


jamjam, I disagree. Some kids this age do have poop problems that they can't control, and when they have accidents, it's impossible for them to ask for help because they don't want to seem like "babies." There is a word for this -- I forget what it is.

I wouldn't say anything about it, if only because you can't be sure whether the parents -- even well-meaning, loving parents -- are going to take it well when it turns out that the problem has manifested in public.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:37 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would ask my own kids if they did it. Assuming they didn't, I would drop it. I think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:39 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's probably best not to bring it up with the other parents and just keep on eye on the 10-year-old next time to see if something similar happens. Depending on their ages, talk to your own children about it and let them know that it's not ok to do something like that and that they should come to you for help if they have an accident.

I know nothing about child development so maybe this kind of behavior is as serious as some in the thread are saying it is. If you decide to go talk to the other guests, do it as another concerned parent and not as caca Columbo.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


You should say nothing. There is no good way to say "Someone shat on Chris and Tim's sofa and we decided it must be your 10 year old son." Even if they had reason to believe it might be true, there is nothing to be gained by pointing out that now everyone there knows what kind of issues their family is dealing with. If you feel like you want to help your hosts deal with this, I suggest you help out with the cost of a cleaning the sofa.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:59 AM on March 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


So a friend when they were a kid once laughed so hard a perfect sphere of poop popped out, rolled down their pants leg, and across the floor.

Weird things can happen, with kids and poop, is what I'm saying.

(Yes, actually a friend. Mine are perfect cubes.)
posted by zippy at 10:59 AM on March 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


This might be a good opportunity to remind your kids that if they need to use the bathroom at someone else's house that it is completely fine to do so and not embarrassing. Perhaps a copy of Everybody Poops would be a good thing to have around. It's probably not your kids, but it might be a good reminder anyhow.

Don't tell them that someone pooped at the party. If one of your kids did it, the above chat will be helpful. If they didn't, they'll just think that you are weird, and... you're a parent, so your kids are going to think you are weird anyhow. Might as well be constructively weird.
posted by k8lin at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe you don't mean it this way...

Do you realize you have stated that this incident will be gossiped about, and that it seems the folks who were not there (to defend themselves) during the discovery are undoubtedly going to get blamed because - hey! That's just how my friends roll.

There are children involved, yes?


- Why must this incident be gossiped about at all?

You should be appalled that such a thing, perpetrated against a ten year old and his parents, is the likely outcome in your social circle. Really, your group likes to pick on each other and children? Why do you socialize with them?


- Why are you acting as an agent for the owners of the couch?

This is not your couch, you've ruled out your family as best you can, it is no longer any of your business.


Advise the hosts to discreetly speak to the other parents if they wish, but stay out of this. Don't gossip, judge, or further enmesh yourself in this bullshit.

If some adult or some child in the group has a psychological problem, it will become clear in time. Nobody saw what happened this time, so it is best not to speculate further regarding this particular incident.


If you knew for sure who did this, it might change things a little, but even in that case gossip would be a cruel way for the group to handle things especially because there are children involved.
posted by jbenben at 11:12 AM on March 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


Everyone there was wearing long trousers. It seems inconceivable that someone could actually befoul themselves to the point where excrement would fall out the leg of their pants and not react in a way that would be noticeable to others.

I chaperone lots of field trips. I've seen this happen. Poor kid was mortified and hid it. He looked up and saw me watching. He thought he was passing gas and...oops!

I've also found a turd on a school bus.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:13 AM on March 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


One thing to remember about kids (including your own) is that they don't perceive a lot of stuff the same way adults do: they don't think "I just pooped on the sofa, I had better get help" but rather "I just pooped on the sofa, I had better pretend nothing happened because I'll be in so much trouble." They don't think "human poop is incredibly unsanitary and this is disturbing on a visceral level and what on earth is making me think of hiding a piece of poop on a sofa I need to clear my head right now," they think "haha, poop, funny, can't wait to see the looks on their faces!!"

(This is why we have a juvenile justice system instead of putting 13-year-olds in the same prisons as 40-year-olds.)

Anyway:

1. This is a good time to discuss issues such as "why we are so careful about washing our hands and not transporting excrement from any species from place to place" and "why we never make up stories or gossip about people behind their backs or jump to hasty conclusions" with your own children.

2. Drop it with the hosts, other guests, etc. Pretend it never even happened. Unless and until the moment the parents of the other child come to you with concerns about what happened, in which case, stick to saying exactly what you actually know/saw.

And I'm not going to get into details, but from personal experience I can absolutely confirm accidental pooping totally happens to kids and sometimes non-geriatric, not-obviously-sick adults. The second you said kids were in that room I was basically like "yeah, this stuff happens, it's why not everyone should have kids, it helps to make sure there's lots of water to drink around such parties as they're more likely to have a surprise pooping incident while in the bathroom peeing, and also it's important to make sure kids who are guests in a house are absolutely and clearly informed as to the location of the bathroom and their freedom to use it whenever they need to."

When I have kids in a new environment the "here's the bathroom, you GO USE IT if you need to use it though please tell me before you leave my line of sight" speech is given before I do anything else.

posted by SMPA at 11:25 AM on March 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've dealt with mystery poopers too. Usually the mystery is less who did it and more how they did it there. I think it's more common than we'd all like to believe.

Personally I'd accept it as part of the risk inherent in inviting children into your home. Whether the hosts should mention it to the other couple I think depends on their relationship and comfort level. Myself I'd let it go once without saying anything then if it happened again I'd re-evaluate.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:25 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


To clarify my previous remarks: I think that accidental pooping and a prank gone horribly awry are both possible, though the first is more likely.

Oh, and I also recommend adding a stock "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up" speech to the set you periodically deliver to your children.

I don't know you or the other parents, but these little accidents and stupid pranks are invariably made worse and more mysterious when parents don't make kids feel that immediately owning up to what happened is always the safest course of action within their family. It takes a lot of consistent effort to reach that kind of understanding with kids, and it wouldn't shock me if any of the three children present had an immediate need to engage in cover-up behavior when they perceived they screwed up in some way. I also wouldn't be stunned to learn that many of the adults at the party have the same compulsion to hide/dissemble/etc. when they or their children do something bad/wrong/strange/etc.
posted by SMPA at 11:35 AM on March 30, 2013 [5 favorites]



The hosts were understandably horrified, expressed a burning desire to figure out what happened but don't want to say anything to any of the guests. They are both "guess" culture, I am definitely "ask".

They would like for the parent to know, but are reluctant to bring it up themselves, and indicated they'd prefer someone else brought it up.


How and if to deal with this issue is up to the hosts. Don't involve yourself in this. Don't let them drag you in. I think it's weird that they're involving you to this degree, to be honest. After the initial "discovery", I think they should've taken over handling it on their own, as the hosts of the party. I also agree with no regrets, coyote and several other people in this thread: sometimes stuff like this happens with kids around. Whether or not it's a sign of serious problems and must be brought up is something that the hosts have to decide from their own knowledge of the people they invited.

I've also found a turd on a school bus.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:13 AM on March 30 [+] [!]

eponysterical!

posted by kagredon at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


At ten, years after I was toilet trained, I once horribly peed my pants at summer camp because I was too shy to ask for the bathroom. I was completely mortified. I mention this because there's a chance that the bathroom was taken, that the kid was too scared to ask where it was, that it was some kind of emergency.

Best to assume awkward kidness and not maliciousness, I think. Clean the cushion and don't do anything else to compound this tween's shame.

(If it wasn't the tween, doubly mortifying to be accused of this. Seriously, poop happens sometimes, and yeah, it's gross, but what can you do? We're all animals.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:44 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can see the merits of either saying something, or keeping quiet, but I feel like if the parent is going to be told, it should be right away. Alternatively, I could just ask the kid directly.

No, definitely do not discuss this with the kid. If you think the kid is acting out due to some crisis situation at home, then maybe befriend them, but don't do so by asking about this.

My opinion is that this should never be spoken of again, and in particular not by you. If you tell the parent, s/he still will feel she must run to apologize to the hosts, but now s/he knows you also know. It's more embarrassing that way and makes it sound like this thing is SO awful that the hosts couldn't even bring it up.

The wisest thing would be for nobody to speak of this. The hosts could pretend that they already told Sal, who already apologized profusely and offered to pay to clean the couch, and they already graciously declined, saying that it cleaned up in no time at all and the couch is like new, and that of course accidents happen to all of us. Now, imagine how much less emotional energy it would take, and how much kinder it would be to Sal, and what a relief it would be not to have this weird source of embarrassment hanging over the relationship between them and Sal, and simply not mention it.
posted by salvia at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Given the relationships of this group of neighbors, it's unlikely that this event will stay much of a secret, and I think it's kindest for the kid who is likely to be blamed, and their parent, to know immediately rather than hear about it much later.

Really guys? Really? I mean I get how you could consider this being a problem theoretically, but if you're actually concerned it'll become some dramaz gossip thing then I think there's more children involved in the situation than previously stated.

I'm on the side of them telling, and you butting out. But only because it seems like they don't want to tell them directly, and would rather just gossip about it. Which is really, really pathetically shitty.

Either way though, it isn't your problem and you shouldn't get involved. I'd definitely push them to either tell, or shut up about it forever. And I'd probably just push them to tell if you knew they couldn't realistically shut up about it.
posted by emptythought at 12:17 PM on March 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


First of all, do not, under any circumstances, talk to the kid directly. If third kid is the culprit (while this is probable, it is still a big "if"), then it is up to his parents to talk to him about this issue. Honestly, my instinct is to tell you to butt out also, but this has escalated so much that someone has to tell the other parents about the incident and it looks like you're the only one willing to do it. So talk to the other couple but do not blame their child. Tell them about discovering the poop and acknowledge it was probably one of the kids. You could go so far to mention you noticed that their child seemed to be having stomach difficulty, but don't offer it up as if it proves anything, because it doesn't. You should also chat with your kids about it without blaming anyone and make sure that they know that they can come to you about anything, even if it is really, really embarrassing, and as long as they are honest and did not intend any harm, they will not get in trouble. Lastly, everyone needs to chill out and stop acting like someone took a shit on your neighbor's couch on purpose. It was an accident, probably by a child who is mortified, and it is a completely fixable situation.
posted by katemcd at 12:57 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone, likely a kid, played fart roulette and lost. Flag it and move on.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


This situation will become whatever you make of it. Why turn it into an incident? No harm was done.
I would act with discretion and compassion and speak no more of this to anyone.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:21 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My previous comment was a bit sharp because I was horrified this was being pinned on a little boy without any real evidence. This is the type of gossip that could brand him the object of neighborhood bullying for years, please re-think any plan to spread the word on this incident.

That said...

Like emptythought, I also thought the hosts were shit-stirring here.

Specifically, their refusal to clean the turd themselves and their burning desire to find the culprit (in light of the fact that this was an accident by one of the children) doesn't speak well of your hosts.

Nthing hydrogen peroxide and enzyme cleaner for the couch.

If anything gets said to the children, I think specific mention of this incident should NOT be referenced.

If one of your kids had an accident of this nature (and we still don't know one of them didn't!) and as a result became then subject of neighborhood ridicule - how would you feel?

Exactly.
posted by jbenben at 1:28 PM on March 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Adults gossiping about children is incredibly awful behavior. If the hosts insist on foisting The Official Response on you, then insist that The Official Response be discretion, compassion, and not blaming people in absentia.
posted by headnsouth at 1:35 PM on March 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Also pretty shocked at the idea that you guys are going to gossip and joke about this rather than being kind and discreet about it. Honestly that sounds like something a group of former high school Mean Girls would do rather than a group of parents. Watch this Sarah Silverman clip. Do you want the kid remembering you for the rest of their life as the mom in this story?
posted by cairdeas at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, it seems like there is a really weird dynamic going on here between you and these friends. I can't think of a way to say this without making an unintentional pun, but it seems like one of those relationships where they manipulate you into doing their dirty work. You clean up the shit on their sofa because ewww it's gross and little old them can't handle it! But you're so strong and sensible and tough - you can do it! And they just simply can't talk to anyone about this (to their face, that is, behind their back is okay) because they are just toooo timid and polite and "guess culture." But YOU can do it because you're so direct and forthright and bold! So then you do it and look like the asshole, while they deny knowing what you are getting in such a huff about. Are the hosts two women and you are a man, or are the three of you all women and you are more of a "tomboy?"
posted by cairdeas at 1:47 PM on March 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


If the issue is concern about the kid, the host simply sends an email to everyone who attended saying, "during party clean up we found a turd on the sofa, don't know who did it but thought you might want to know, in case someone might be having some kind of tummy trouble. Loved seeing y'all, can't wait to see you again."

Other than concern about health, there's no reason to ever speak of this again. (At least until the kids are in college and its since become a HILARIOUS story.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:13 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe the hosts should be excused a little from not wanting to handle the poop. It sounds like they don't have kids, and it is really only after you have kids that your poop handling tolerance increases exponentially, IMHO. I have so much more patience and understanding for other people's kids now that I have one of my own. You can instruct and teach, but sometimes awful stuff happens.

I agree with the people saying that you shouldn't assume this was the other kid, and especially shouldn't gossip about it. As a matter of fact I think you should go back to your neighbors and tell them that it's certainly possible that your kids were the culprits, and that you'd rather they did not assume it was the other child and that you wouldn't want this rumor to follow that child around, and let that be the last time you talk about it with them. I don't think anyone should raise the issue with the other family, unless of course they raise it with you.

Also, I think it is really strange that you would consider asking the other child directly when you have not even asked your own children directly. I understand you scrutinized their underwear and the other child laid on the sofa, but still I emit a mild wtf?

On preview I really disagree with the email everyone idea. That just spreads the rumor farther (I think the 10 year old only had one parent at the party, so now the other adult gets the story, too).
posted by onlyconnect at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mention this to your kids. You don't say how old your kids are, but if they didn't do it, the odds are they'll blame the other kid and then all the neighborhood kids will call him the Party Pooper for a few years.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:59 PM on March 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


This sort of thing is not at all uncommon with kids, even when they're well and truly toilet trained. Most likely, they were too shy to ask where the toilet was and things just got away from them.

The neighbours should just clean the sofa and chalk it up to the perils of hanging around with kids. Whether you help them or not is up to you, but don't turn a small embarrassing accident into a huge negative life event for a kid. You're not likely to ever find out for sure who it was anyway. It's a good idea to make sure kids are aware of where the toilet when they're visiting is so they don't have to ask, in my experience.
posted by dg at 10:52 PM on March 30, 2013


The whole way you've framed your question is kinda ridiculous. You sound like Miss Marple summing up the way she solved a murder or one of those mystery dinner theater plots where everyone has to play a different character, again to solve a murder. But we don't have a dead body here - instead we have a poo. A measly little fresh poo that didn't get tracked anywhere and could be cleaned up within five minutes, no harm done. Yet your post screams "gossip, drama, OMG poooooooooo" like this is the most exciting thing that has happened in your lives for years.

You and the hosts didn't spend five minutes dealing with it, then saying "oh well, shit literally happens, haha" and moving on. Instead you're blowing it all out of proportion making a big investigation out of it, interviewing suspects and gossiping amongst yourselves. This is the kind of thing I would expect if you'd all been children. However, some of you are supposed to be adults.

Your duty is to protect the children in this situation, not the couch. Hopefully you've gotten the message by now but if not, drop it and insist the hosts do, too. However, I strongly suspect you've already told your kids what happened, which means they will now blame the other kid and spread the story all over school. If you have told your kids then what you've done to that other kid is pretty damn awful and you should try to make it right as best you can.
posted by hazyjane at 12:45 AM on March 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


Alternatively, I could just ask the kid directly

Don't do that. I would be angry if someone, even a close friend, asked one of my kids a question like that. If for some reason you feel compelled to pursue this -- and I agree with all the people who say you should drop it -- you should talk to the other parents. Don't talk to other people's children about personal, private matters.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:11 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would be angry if someone, even a close friend, asked one of my kids a question like that.

Yup. I'd also be creeped by the lack of plausible motives for pursuing the investigation.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:26 PM on March 31, 2013


Shocking third act twist!

Both the hosts sat on that sofa.

It was the hosts. They're poop fetishists. They do it for the lulz. They asked you to help with clean up after the party ended because you had already brought up noticing the smell, thereby demonstrating your willingness to talk about poop with anyone who will listen. They wanted you to find the poop. They want you to blame the other kid and spread this rumor far and wide because it turns them on so much to know all their neighbors are talking about their poop. (Actually, there's a chance they want to pin it on you, and they're setting you up in case you try to out them as poop fetishists.) You've already cleaned up the evidence, guaranteeing that no DNA tests can trace the poop back to them.

Now, aren't you glad you have a genius detective like me to help you out with this?

Seriously, my poop fetish theory has as much evidence to support it as the idea that it was the other kid. Why blame that kid instead of anyone else at the party? If you want to help, just drop it. If you want more gossip and drama, start telling everyone about the hosts' poop fetish.
posted by medusa at 2:46 PM on March 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


Similar incident happened at my house during a party once, about 30 years ago. I found the poop UNDER the bathroom rug. Only two kids were present, one was mine. After checking carefully with my kid to make sure it wasn't him, my husband and i never mentioned it to anyone else, ever. I would suggest you do the same.
posted by raisingsand at 3:28 PM on March 31, 2013


Re: Medusa's comment...

I used to work professionally as a dominatrix. I can see that scenario as a strong possibility:))
posted by jbenben at 7:50 PM on March 31, 2013


Don't do anything. I don't know why the hosts literally made this shit your problem, but on the off-chance it was one of your kids, you've already paid your dues by cleaning it up. They don't get to offload their burning desire to know what happened onto you too.

Review hygiene/bathroom etiquette with your kids in general, but don't tarnish the other kids name and don't try to talk to the other kid about it (!) - as one of the adults in attendance, it's your job to make sure this doesn't become neighborhood gossip.

I'd decline further dinner party invitations, too. Sounds like an unhealthy environment for a number of reasons.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:13 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The hosts refused to touch it. What was their plan if you hadn't? They'd rather have you clean up alien poop from their furniture and then send you on a Scatlockian quest? What a great pair of hosts. By great, I mean petty, catty human beings.

This isn't your problem. If you're terrified that your kids are dropping load in couch cushions for whatever reasons then speak to them about it.

Also, having witnessed this first hand at a rest home, it is not, "inconceivable that someone could actually befoul themselves to the point where excrement would fall out the leg of their pants and not react in a way that would be noticeable to others." I want to quote Princess Bride-isms at you, but I won't.

I will point out that you just took a lot of time and valuable scrabble words to write an essay on poop on not-your-couch.

You should drop this and the hosts, or realize that you have a career waiting for you as a forensic expert and pursue that.

But please don't waste anymore time on this specific incident.
posted by haplesschild at 2:00 PM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


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