When Annie came rushing downstairs last Friday morning, panic in her voice, I knew immediately what had happened. “Mama! Mama! You’ve got to come quick! This is bad, really bad!”
I accompanied her upstairs and my fears were confirmed: the toilet was clogged and darn near close to overflowing. This might not seem like the sort of thing that one routinely fears when her six year-old comes running down the stairs, and that’s true, but I had two very important reasons for my suspicions: first, Annie had been singing in the bathroom for an awfully long time prior to her frantic outburst, and second, the night before, Ella had flushed an apple down the toilet.
Child spending twenty minutes on the john + large piece of fruit = clog. Let me tell you, this is the very most awesome way to start a four-day weekend.
I grabbed the plunger and got busy (“What are you doing THAT for, Mom??”), narrowly managing to avoid the flood, but not successfully removing the entire clog. At first, Annie was all about helping, until she realized that there was, like, brown stuff floating all over the place. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her move so fast.
Nick wanted me to call a plumber immediately, but I resisted. For one, I’m not a huge fan of spending money unless it’s necessary, or unless it’s on Pumpkin Spice Lattes — which are, in fact, necessary, so I rest my case. For another, although I don’t look it, I can actually be fairly handy – so long as I’ve got my buddy Google around – and have managed to repair several household items that have otherwise “broken” (the disposal, the washing machine), so I figured I could remedy the situation fairly quickly.
After all, it was just an apple. Biodegradable. Organic. Surely this was do-able.
I plunged and I snaked. I poured more dish detergent down the toilet than I’ve used on our dishes in the past six months. I carried pans of hot water up and down the stairs like I was part of a Civil War hospital reenactment. I added baking soda and vinegar and waited overnight for the organic, biodegradable apple to break down enough for it to be flushed away. I plunged some more.
The kids had been instructed not to use the toilet while I was “fixing” it, and on the bright side, between the detergent and the baking soda and the snaking, the loo had never been cleaner. On the dark side, four days later, it was still clogged. On Tuesday, I called the plumber.
He arrived several hours later and listened to my tale of woe with a chuckle, then proceeded to feed his enormous snake through the pipe (OMG, that sounds like the worst, least kinky metaphor ever) while he jauntily told me about some of the other crazy items he’d been called to fish out of toilets. Matchbox cars. A mouse trap with a mouse inside. A water bottle. Lids to fruit cups, which acted as perfect drain seals.
After a good 10 minutes of snaking and flushing, there was some improvement, but the toilet still wasn’t functioning properly. The plumber seemed perplexed; his auger was easily tunneling through the pipe, and was merrily churning away, but each time he retracted it, there was no evidence of a clog. More perplexing, he flushed bowlful after bowlful of toilet paper down (a wise move, given that all four of us have the propensity to really use the toilet, if you know what I mean), hoping to fully plug things up so he could locate the clog… but each time the paper would get sucked away.
On the one hand, progress had been made and toilet could be used again. On the other hand, there remained a burbling sound as the bowl refilled, and the water level wouldn’t quite return to normal, indicating that a clog likely still existed. Perhaps it could clear out on its own… or perhaps it would back up the next time one of us spent twenty minutes singing to ourselves while on the commode. (This happens more often than you might think.)
Hence, we found ourselves at the big question: should we call it a day and hope that things worked out for the best, or should the plumber pull the toilet from its foundation to check the pipe for a clog? (‘Cause if the toilet was pulled and nothing was in there, wouldn’t that have been a waste of time and money?! Being a homeowner rocks.)
And we have a winner!
Side note: your bathroom suddenly looks very strange when your toilet is removed and placed on its back.
Second side note: it was washing day, so the bathroom was entirely devoid of any towels or bath mats, making it look like some odd kind of showroom. And also leaving us with no place to wipe our wet hands. Fantastic.
It took him only a moment before he called me around to take a look. And there, sitting right at the base of the pipe, was the apple – or most of it, anyway – looking just like it had fallen off the tree, except for the perfectly round, auger-shaped hole in its side. Less than five minutes later, the toilet was back in place (minus the apple), and the plumber was on his way. His bill will be on its way presently, too, I assume.
Most expensive apple ever.
You may have noticed that, despite Ella’s flushing the apple down the can, I didn’t say that I was frustrated with her. That’s because I wasn’t upset with her. (I know. I’m amazing with narratives.)
Oh, I was upset, all right… but not with Ella. She had only been acting on someone else’s instructions when she flushed the apple down the toilet. More specifically, my instructions.
See, she’d come home from swimming and had been ravenous (having eaten her dinner several hours earlier and then kicked and paddled and dived for an hour), so I’d given her an apple. She ate about a quarter of it before realizing that she was more tired than hungry, and proceeded to deposit it in my bedroom trashcan. I knew for sure I didn’t want an apple hanging out in my waste basket (aside from it being a terrific dog lure, it would also attract fruit flies, which are maybe #1 on my list of Things That I Abhor, right next to packing peanuts and superfine glitter), but I also knew that Ella wouldn’t want to trudge back downstairs and throw it away in the kitchen.
Then I remembered something Nick had told me ages ago as I’d walked past the bathroom to throw out a half-eaten bowl of soup: I could just flush it down the toilet. When I’d balked, he assured me that it was no different than the rest of the crap (hahaha) that went down the potty on a regular basis. Fair enough.
And so I made the highly logical connection between a liquid bowl of soup and a completely solid apple, and told Ella to please remove the fruit from the garbage and flush it down the toilet. She obliged. Let’s hear it for following directions!
When I explained all of this to the plumber, I might have maybe kinda sorta left out that part.
When I explained all of this to Nick, however, I might have kinda maybe sorta told him the truth. And I might maybe kinda sorta never live it down.