This week has seen my most challenging single-parent moment yet. Readers of a delicate nature should look away.
I'll start by saying my son is very good about hygiene and cleanliness (are you now scared where this is going?): he is a prolific hand washer, and has never been one of those irritating children who leave a toilet unflushed.
The other evening I was expecting a friend over for a drink. This is a rare event, and so the house had to be spic and span and not in its usual state of lived-in chaos. Cleaning and polishing was undertaken, dishwasher loaded and son showered and pyjamaed and ready for bed. Result: clear surfaces, fragrant air, and nothing outwardly revealing the disorder we usually live in.
Bidding my son goodnight, I went to the bathroom to put one last squish of Toilet Duck around the rim, and to make sure there were no knickers spilling out of the laundry basket.
I lifted the toilet lid, looked down, screamed and pulled the flush in a frenzied manner. I'll spare you graphic detail, but will quote part of a frantic Help Me text I subsequently sent to a friend (not the one I was imminently expecting):
"It's the size of a small cat and it will not flush away."
I kept flushing. Nothing was happening apart from water rising perilously close to the top of the toilet.
I called my son down and asked him why he had not told me what had happened. Eyes wide he looked down the loo, clutched his chest, lost all his colour and implored "I didn't know! I thought it had flushed!"
For 10 minutes we waited for the water-level to drop a bit before flushing the toilet again. And again. But nothing would shift 'it'. It had formed an impenetrable block in the bottom of the bowl.
My friend texted me: "Get a wire coat hanger, it's the only way."
"I do not have any." I texted back, too ashamed to add "because I used them all up breaking into the house via the letterbox during another housekeeping fail."
I sat on the edge of the bath, verge of vomiting, and seething. I did not sign up for this! I spent the first two years of my son's life dealing single-handedly with his poo and wee! I should not still be having to do it.
"What will we do?" asked my boy, "Will we have to pick it out?"
"If it comes to that," I said, "There will be no WE. YOU will be picking it out."
I looked at the clock. Fifteen minutes before my friend was due to arrive. I could not receive visitors with the toilet bowl completed concreted up with... well, you KNOW what. They might think I had done it. And there was no way I could greet someone with the news that they couldn't use the toilet because my child had blocked it with a cat-sized poo, or, worse, could they help me to deal with it.
In the end, when boiling water, bleach and even more flushing had rendered no effect, I went into the garden with a torch to find a stick to break it up manually. There were not any sticks however, so I had to pull the cane support out of my clematis and use that.
My poor son looked on in horror as I ranted and raved, broke sweat and poked about in the toilet bowl all the while lecturing him on the importance of eating more fruit and veg and raging that his father should be here to deal with such atrocities.
Then, finally, it was gone.
I don't think my poor son has dared use the toilet at home for number twos since, no doubt realising that his single mum can cope with most of the cra*p life throws at her - just not the ACTUAL cr*p.