Curse of a certain surfer

When our toddler is in a public pool, we're on code red.

Toddler poos: the stuff that nightmares are made of. These aren't nightmares that take place when you're asleep; you don't wake in a cold sweat because a toddler poo was chasing you with an axe.

Worse. They're nightmares that take place when you're awake and your child is in a resort swimming pool.

We're in the Opal Cove Resort near Coffs Harbour, breaking up a long drive. There's a good restaurant, a giant chess set, clean linen, pay TV and people actually lounging around doing nothing. It could be our most relaxing family overnighter ever ... if it weren't for that one concern.

The poo in the pool. The Bondi cigar. The blind mullet. The brown surfer. Its names may change but the horror - the horror! - is eternal.

With a three-year-old boy who makes it to the toilet for one poo in 10 and as such believes he is too grown up for nappies, we live in a constant state of anxiety, bordering on terror.

When he is in a public pool, we're on code red. "Want to do a poo?" we ask. "No." "Want to do a poo?" "No." "Want to do a poo?" "No."

This time he's emphatic, with a hurt look indicating that all he really wants to do is splash around like a normal kid rather than be subjected to a public grilling that can only lead to personality disorders and years of therapy - and that's just for me.

The plus side is that other swimmers and their children have gradually moved away from us, creating a buffer zone that at least reduces the risk that, in the case of an accident, someone will actually be touched by anything afloat.

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Just as I am reassuring myself about this (and about 10 seconds after the last answer in the negative) come the words that I've been dreading: "Poo, daddy!"

Realising this is not an affectionate nickname but the equivalent of someone pressing the panic button, I pick up my nervous-looking son, haul us out of the water and head for the toilets as quickly as I can without breaking the no-running-by-the-pool rule. Imagine an Olympic speed walker carrying a sack of spuds.

The toilet is, of course, hundreds of metres away, past the pools, through the gates, down the stairs, past the gym and through the labyrinth. We make it. I sit him on the loo. Five minutes pass. He speaks. "No poo, daddy!"

This episode is repeated three times in the next 30 minutes, before we dry ourselves and head back to our room, emotionally and physically drained. I'm not sure but as we enter the hotel I think I hear a cheer go up from the other swimmers. Back in our room, we put our boy in the bath, sit on the bed and breathe a sigh of relief.

"Poo, daddy!" he says. At least baths are easy to clean.

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