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Baby Stuff

“It’s all right, it’s just poopy.”

November 5th, 2007 by Jeff | Dump Core

You know you’ve officially earned your fatherhood stripes if you can say the above sentence with a straight face and a casual, nonchalant inflection.

One of the first real trials by fire any parent has to face is the dreaded poopy diaper. I’ve been told that babies have no concept of things smelling “good” or “bad”; they only differentiate things as smelling differently. This is probably good since they could spend an unspecified amount of time sitting in their own filth until their guardian finally finds out what happened and takes care of it. Nevertheless, we as a species eventually developed a total aversion to the odor of our own feces, most likely as a mechanism to make sure we don’t accidentally consume any in our quest for sustenance. As a general rule, things that smell bad aren’t very good to eat, certain types of fragrant cheeses not withstanding. Many of us in today’s modern, high-tech, hyper-sanitary world tend to forget this fact, as we rarely need to use this knowledge for survival. We forget it, that is, until it comes flying right back into our faces–in some cases, literally–when we start reproducing.

Anecdote #1: My wife called me in yesterday morning to help change the boy’s diaper. He had just awakened from a nice, restful, 12.5 hour night’s sleep (lucky him!) bearing a full load (OK, not so lucky). Having obtained such a high quality and quantity of sleep, he was in no mood to lie there peacefully. He was in full go-mode with the wiggle quotient cranked to high, babbling happily with every other word being “Da da”. In such situations, one of us takes the low road and performs the actual toxic clean up while the other takes the high road and does their best to restrain the flailing legs as he kicks and squirms.

Well, my wife extracted him from the crib and was on clean-up duty when she ascertained that she required my assistance with restraint. So I walked into the room and instinctively reached out and grabbed the pair of waving ankles before she even had the chance to start uttering her warning. “He just stuck his ankle in it,” she said sheepishly, still wiping frantically at his bottom. I extended my index finger into view. Yep, there it was, right there on the tip of my finger.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I hadn’t had my morning shot of caffeine yet or just the jaded numbness of parental experience, but all I could manage was, “It’s all right, it’s just poopy.” My wife nearly snorted with laughter. I very calmly remained at my station until the clean-up was completed, the diaper was closed, and the boy secure. I then proceeded calmly yet briskly across the hall to the bathroom and scrubbed until my finger was raw.

I have a bad habit of biting my fingernails. I think I kicked that habit, at least for the day.

Anecdote #2: Hours later, we’re about to head out for some longer over-due shopping. It’s usually my job to carry the boy downstairs to the car and buckle him in while my wife gathers all his various accessories (diaper bag, toys, etc.). Right now the two burdens are about equal in weight, but he’s steadily increasing in mass, giving me the weightier load. I hoisted him up to my hip in the typical carrying configuration, and a faint yet unfortunately familiar scent wafted to my nostrils.

My wife undoubtedly noticed the odd look on my face. “What’s wrong?”

“I smell poopy.”

“I just changed him.”

“Well, it’s either the boy or Daddy, but I definitely smell it.” I spun him around, lifted him higher, and planted my nose into his tush. (This maneuver is not recommended; only trained professional parents should attempt this.)

“Powder fresh.” I didn’t like the implications of this deduction.

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