For the most part I have tried to stay away from the books and blogs that inform you (in excruciating detail) what your child should be doing at this or that age, and whether the vaguely alarming rash on your baby’s butt means “allergic to laundry detergent” or “symptom of smallpox”. I have to admit, I have occasionally flipped through my What to Expect in the First Year and gotten some good tips out of it.
For example: I never would have thought to start playing catch with Clara as soon as I did had the book not recommended it. And I got some good ideas about how to transition Clara from our room to the crib. Other than that – any other reading I do seems to be of the alarmist DON’T DO THAT! OH NO! variety and I try to avoid it.
Occasionally, though, something happens to me that I think they should put into these books because my 37 years on earth have not prepared me - in any way, shape or form - how to respond.
Take this example. The other night I was giving 13-month old Clara her nightly bath while Gerald put the dinner dishes away. She was happily splashing and drinking bathwater out of a cup. I was sitting on the edge of the tub talking to her. She moved into a semi-crawl position, and I chuckled to see a tiny air bubble fart rise to the surface and pop. Before my chuckle had a chance to fully emerge from my throat – tiny baby turds started shooting out of Clara’s butt with machine-gun rapidity. Suddenly she was surrounded by at least twenty, floating poop balls. I shrieked incoherently for Gerald and stood up – flapping my arms in horror. Gerald arrived to help.
“What?” He asked.
“Poop! There’s poop! Grab a towel!”
I scooped up Clara and handed her off to Gerald and the towel. Clara’s shrieks of displeasure at a bath cut short faded away as Gerald carried her off to her room and I kneeled down and spent the next ten minutes fishing poop out of the tub with my hands. Yes – my bare hands. I wasn’t thinking – I was operating of some basic animal instinct to clean. I guess. Where is that in a book, What To Expect people???!!!! I would have like a little heads up for this horror show.
But after I gave myself a chance to stop hyper ventilating, I began to think about what had just happened. In a weird way – it was kind of awesome. Here is this little baby – totally uninhibited - totally incapable of controlling her bowels – but she doesn’t care. She’s cool with it. It’s Mother Nature, man.
When was the last time you felt uninhibited and relaxed enough to poop in a pool of warm water? (A long time, I’m betting) Here I am – someone who would rather die holding it in than go to the bathroom in the woods – and I have a little girl who just rolls with it. Good job, Clara. Never be embarrassed by anything. I mean, please don’t poop in the tub again, but don’t get held back by societal inhibitions!