So…THAT Happened: Epic Moments in Parenting

We’ve all been there.  That moment when you are finally starting to feel like you’ve got this parenting thing under control and BAM! Something happens that knocks you off your pedestal and reminds you that parenting is a giant amusement park ride, and sometimes you end up upside down and backwards.  For example, the following things have actually happened in my house:

  1. Standing in the basement playroom I heard a quiet smacking sound. I turned around and realized that my one year old was eating a handful of (I’m telling myself it was clean) cat litter.
  2. When we took our new baby to church for one of the first times (in a nice clean cloth diaper) we got there and I realized that my husband had neglected to put a cover on the diaper, and the baby had pooped. A lot. Then I realized that I had forgotten to put any extra covers in the diaper bag, or pack extra clothes.  Luckily we had one disposable diaper and an extra white onesie buried deep in the bag.
  3. My five year old was tickling his brother as I attempted to wrestle the younger into his pajamas. In a moment of bad luck, my elbow collided with said five year old’s forehead hard enough that I really expected there to be at least a goose egg. (I got lucky, there wasn’t). 
  4. Yep, that’s me on the garage roof. My mom about had a heart attack when she found me.

I know I’m not alone in this one.  My mom tells me stories about my climbing escapades as a young child.  I was known to put a ladder up against the garage and hang out on the roof for hours on end.  I’m sure I caused her some gray hairs in the process!


Kids can get into some strange predicaments, and sometimes even the best parents let their guard down just long enough for their offspring to have one of those, “He did what?!” moments.  I polled my Facebook friends for their best epic parenting stories, and I have to say they didn’t disappoint.  Here are some great examples of all the things kids can get into when their parents aren’t looking. (Spoiler: several stories involve poop…)

Eating Chips

I took my 12 month old to the park one morning. We came home and about an hour later I picked him up to put him in his high chair for lunch. He looked like he had something in his mouth so I reached in and pulled out a huge wood chip from the park.

An Inopportune Thirst

We had our first dinner outing with the twins at a restaurant when they were about 18-20 months old. I was standing in the restroom stall with one kid on the changing table, the other one standing behind me. While changing the diaper of the one on the changing table, I hear a slurping and splashing noise behind me. I look behind me and my other son had reached into the toilet with his hand to grab a “drink” of the water. Pretty much thought we were both going to die!

Easy Mistake

My son ate his own poop out of his diaper once because he thought us was a raisin.

Health and Safety

I drove to the first well-child check-up 34 miles away without strapping the babe in the car seat. How’s that for irony? I had placed him in it with the intention of buckling him in after I locked the house. I didn’t even realize it until I got there.

When You Gotta Go…

My husband took our daughter to the library for her first outing after potty training. He had turned to do something when he hears her say, “I have to go potty.” He turns around to find her standing in the middle of the library with her pants at her ankles!

Sweet Discovery

When he was three, we lost our grandson inside the supermarket. We were fast-walking up and down each aisle, frantic to find him. After about five minutes, which seemed like an eternity, we found him in the Brach’s candy section, which was right on his eye level. He’d found a bonanza!

Baby’s First Food

I once found a nice plump raisin in my two-month-old’s diaper. Lovingly fed to him, obviously, by his 17-month-old big brother when nobody was looking!

Slippery Slope

There was the time I bundled my two-year-old up to go sledding and did not realize the path was getting slicker and slicker with each pass. I gave him a good push and he went zooming down the little hill and the sled hit a pile of debris at the edge of a drop off! The sled flipped upside down and went airborne and thankfully snagged on some branches. I raced down the hill, flipped the sled over and because I had bundled him up so well, he didn’t even have a scratch! He was laughing and didn’t start crying until he saw me visibly scared.

An Artist and a Builder

My (almost) three-year-old and (almost) two-year-old boys (at the time) shared a room. At nap time one day, the older one took his poopy diaper off, smeared it all over his wall, climbed out of bed, and built a “house” out of poop for his Fisher Price Little People. I opened the room door to see the walls, the cribs, and both boys covered in poop…and one was still sleeping! My (almost) three-year-old had a “poop beard” and was smiling ear to ear. He couldn’t wait to show me the “house” that he had built. I was mortified!!!

Uber Embarrassed

My then five-year-old walked up to me while I was busy doing something, and handed me my cell phone. I looked at it and saw a car on a map. I really didn’t think much of it–I thought it was Map Quest or something. About five minutes later I got a phone call from a man telling me that he was out front waiting for me. I was like huh? Then I slowly put two and two together and realized my baby girl ordered an Uber. I felt so bad that I didn’t realize what she had done. I had the Uber app, just hadn’t ordered an Uber ride yet.

Friends, Not Food

One morning as I prepared my car, loading up for a day full of teaching elementary students, my daughter, age two, stood outside watching me while eating a bowl of dry Cheerios. She chattered at me while I loaded my work-life up. When I was done, I noticed her bend down and pick something up, placing it carefully in her bowl. She then returned to munching on contents from said bowl. Curious, I go look into the bowl, and to my surprise (and horror) find she has a bunch of rolly-polly bugs mixed into her Cheerios. I hastily grabbed the bowl, tossing the contents into the nearby bushes. My sweet two-year-old burst into tears, asking why did I throw out her “friends”?

Handfuls of Paint

When my daughter was about ten months old, she got into my son’s Melissa and Doug paints and was eating green paint by the handfuls. A call to poison control assured she’d be fine, but she did have bright green diapers for several days.

Foreign Forgetfulness

My husband’s parents lived in a foreign country when he was little. One time as they were rounding up kiddos they accidentally left my husband in the village. (This wasn’t the first time! His brother was left in a hotel in India; they realized when they were two hours away!) They drove to get him and he was in a chair eating snacks with the staff!

Big Silver Lollipop

My then four-year-old walked directly up to the silver handicap door opener button at very busy public venue–where many, many people touch that button to enter–and she licked it. Full on tongue, as if it was a lollipop or something. To this day I cannot fathom what the heck possessed her do that.

Roll-On Ice Cream

When I was a child, my mom found me in her room licking my dads roll-on deodorant saying, “YUMMMM I LOVE ICE CREAM!!!” Poison control was called, and since I was totally fine they both had a good chuckle.

That’s Not Chocolate

I had just gotten my six-month-old twin boys out of the bathtub. I dried off the first one and set him on the carpet just outside the door while I dried off his brother. When I turned back to him, his face, mouth, and hands were covered in chocolate, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how he had gotten into chocolate (he wasn’t mobile yet). Then I realized…it wasn’t chocolate!!

A Show-Ready House

My son dumped a gallon of white latex paint all over himself and the carpet the day before we were ready to get our house on the market. That same week he somehow managed to turn the refrigerator off without us knowing it. Several weeks later, while my husband was working on removing pennies that our son had shoved into our car cigarette lighter outlet, he was meanwhile in my husband’s car inserting flashcards into the CD drive.

Candy Confusion

A few days after Halloween, my three- and two-year-old kids got into my bathroom and found a bottle of stool softener leftover from having babies. Apparently the cap was not on securely. They dumped it out and were eating them off the floor saying, “Candy! Candy!” Poison control said they would just have tummy aches and icky diapers for a few days.

Sharing is Caring

My four-week-old son was asleep on the couch when I heard him start screaming abruptly. I ran in, just in time to see my 2 year old standing next to him. When I got closer I noticed his mouth was green. Upon closer inspection I saw an M&M in his mouth. I was able to get it out. My toddler proudly said, “I sharing momma.”

Shiny Paint

The first time my son ever climbed out of his crib he decided to paint himself and nearly everything in his room with a large tub of Vaseline! I thought he was napping, but I heard something, so I opened his bedroom door to find a very shiny little boy. A few hours later he started vomiting…then I realized he must have ingested some Vaseline. Poison control was called, but no harm done.

Splatter “Paint” Tasting Party

My two kiddos are 17 months apart. One weekend morning, (they were about two and three) they delightfully let us sleep in. I woke to the sound of giggling on my daughter’s bedroom monitor. She sleeps on a different floor than her brother. I thought, how cute, he went to wake her up. As I walked towards her room, I began to feel uneasy. Then I saw a perfect, brown, toddler-size handprint on the corner of my couch. I opened the door to her room and froze. There was brown liquid EVERYWHERE. It was splattered on the carpet, the shelving, the computer… EVERYWHERE! I feared what the brown liquid might be–there was SO MUCH OF IT!!! 

Then I saw the source. They had a mixing bowl, which was the same mixing bowl I had left out on the counter. I had started to make brownies the night before and had realized I was out of eggs. I had covered the bowl and the already-poured-out mix with plastic wrap and pushed it into a corner, on top of my kitchen counter top. The little squirts used a chair to climb on top the counter and retrieve the bowl, add water, then have their own splatter-paint tasting party in my daughter’s room. It took forever to clean, and I made them help. To this day it is their favorite story from their early childhood. Mine, not so much.

Thanks to all who contributed stories!  In today’s world of sanitized social media lives, it is easy to get sucked into the belief that crazy things only happen to me, and that other people always have THEIR parenting lives under perfect control.  But really, we’re all just making it up as we go along. Sometimes it’s good to remember that every parent, whether they admit it or not, has a story about the time their child ate cat litter. 


Sarah Bengtson
Sarah is a proud Iowa native who currently lives in North Liberty with her husband and 2 sons. She grew up in rural Benton county and moved to the Iowa City area in 2005 to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy. Now she balances raising two growing boys with a work as a pediatric physical therapist. Outside of work and family, Sarah loves music, playing her cello, running, baking, crochet, church activities, and cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Vikings.


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