A big part of getting used to a new baby is dealing with everything that comes out of it. A baby is like a cornucopia of effluent emitting a rainbow of different kinds of poop not to mention the vomit that starts small but quickly works its way up the gross scale – from simple little milk spukle to projectile chunks that smack against the far wall.
I’m sorry, is this too graphic? Deal with it. We’re talking about children here.
My friend Kirk (or as we call him Mr. Uncle Kirklepants) is a new dad. He loves kids and he’s good with them, although when our kids were younger he would roughhouse with them and wind them up tickling and tossing them into the air until they were practically frothing at the mouth with enthusiasm. Then he would quickly tire of the game and turn to interact with the adults not realizing you can’t turn your back on a loaded child. There needs to be some calming period like the waiting period for the purchase of a handgun. He never did learn with our kids although now that he’s got his own child I hope he’s finally realized that there’s no one to hand her off to – he’s the parent now, on duty full-time, you have to pace yourself.
I’m sure the play-time message is sinking in but when Merran and I think about Mr. Uncle Kirklepants as a dad there is one concern that comes to the fore.
He has a serious problem with poop.
At least he used to. He claims now to be the NASCAR pit crew of diaper changes but this wasn’t always the way. Come with me now, back in time, to those heady days at the dawn of a new century when our kids were young and poopy diapers were a daily reality.
Before Kirk met his lovely wife we had ideas about setting him up with a friend of ours. He loved kids, she loved kids, they were both good friends of ours. It’s traditional for married couples to try to fix up their single friends regardless of whether those single friends want to be fixed up. It’s a testament to our friendship that they didn’t end up hating us later for our matchmaking.
We had just purchased a new house and Kirk had come into town to help us get it ready to move in. The house is a beautiful old craftsman but the woman who lived there previously had smoked incessantly for 40 years and the thick carpets, wallpaper, and drapes that had been left were saturated with tobacco smoke. We spent several days stripping up carpets and hauling junk out to the curb. We built such an impressive pile of garbage bags and rolls of old carpet that you almost couldn’t see they house from the street. We needed to take a load to the dump.
Lacking an appropriate vehicle for haulage we borrowed a rusty old pickup truck from some friends. It was the kind of charming beater that you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole if you were looking to buy but because it had such a storied history with our friends you could easily ignore its many faults and, frankly, hazards.
At the same time Kirk and I were cleaning out the house Merran and the recipient of our romantic machinations, Sophie, were working on the garden and headed out to the local garden center to get plants. The instructions they left for Kirk and I were simple. Get rid of the junk before they returned.
Easy. However, the charmingly dilapidated pickup truck had other ideas. Considering the fact that you had to turn the key in the ignition in just the right way, kind of leaning to your left and jiggling your wrist, you would think that the engine would be the cause of our problems but no – it was the antique bald tires that started everything off.
We had finished loading and were preparing to drive off when we noticed that one of the tires was flat. It took us a while to figure out that the spare was bolted to the bottom of the truck and only a little while longer to realize that the nut holding it in place was so rusted that there was no longer any difference between it and the bolt it had rusted onto. Discovering all this, searching the house for the proper tools, and getting down to work trying to free the tire took some time and the girls would be returning any minute. No problem. We were manly men and the problem would be solved in a trice.
I gathered up a selection of wrenches and climbed under the truck to get to work lying on my back in the street with my feet sticking out. Mr. Uncle Kirklepants knelt down in the grass parking strip next to the flat tire looking under the truck and ready to lend assistance.
I should pause here to point out that our residential neighborhood is teeming with dogs and as we have come to learn, many of our neighbors are lax in obeying scoop laws – or common decency for that matter when it comes to leaving your dog’s poop in front of someone else’s house.
Kirk had the great misfortune of discovering this fact and when he realized that he had knelt in poop he recoiled in horror reflexively brushing at it. As is common with poop, once it is squashed – whether under knee or under foot – it has the unfortunate quality of releasing its aroma like a vengeful spirit of excreta. Catching a whiff of this vile perfume the involuntary reactions took over and the poor fellow began to retch.
It was at this very moment that the girls pulled up in front of the house to the sight of my feet sticking out from under the truck and Kirk on hands and knees vomiting into the grass.
The double date that evening was not nearly as romantic as you might imagine.
So you can understand when Merran and I expressed concern that Kirk would be exposed to a baby. As they say, your kid’s poop doesn’t stink, but seriously, if he was so helpless before the olfactory onslaught of a little dog poop when romance was on the line, what chance would he stand with the daily conveyor belt of poopy diapers, not to mention the all-too-frequent up the backers? There are few things more disgusting than your baby swaddled in the results of a violent bowel movement. I like to think that I have a reasonably strong constitution but there were times when I was ready to drive the porcelain bus after unwrapping a onesie full of failed diaper.
Happily I can report that Kirk has been handling it like a champ and expressing chagrin that everyone doubted him. Here’s to Kirk’s new lease on life and to all of us who show our parental love by cleaning up the unholy mess.
Especially my darling wife who let them poop and throw up on her way more than I did.