Friday, February 21, 2014

A blue cloud

Friends of mine are waiting for their turn in line, hoping to adopt a newborn baby. It's taking a long time. They are using a service that fits what sort of process makes them comfortable, and are willing to wait for everything to be "right." I commend them for their patience.

I recently sponsored and presented an award at a gallery show, and asked the husband to help entertain Jay while the opening reception/ awards ceremony took place. During the course of the evening, he asked me, "So, what's the worst "bodily function stuff" you've gotten on you?"

Seriously? Oh dear friend, if you think you're going to raise a child shit-free, let's sit down and chat.

We were pleasantly surprised at the lack of repulsion we experienced for the first several months after Jay was born. I thought, "Wow. This is just not so bad at all!" I should note, though, that what he lacked in aroma was compensated for in distance. I fully expected, and prepared for, the pee-pee shower. I got caught off-guard once, in a hurry and hopeful. I lost. Otherwise, a cloth diaper over the boyhood kept things localized during diaper changes. What I never saw coming, and was never ever warned about by ANY friends, parents, or even Heidi Murkoff's effing "What To Expect" baby owner's manual, was The Projectile Bowel Movement. One late, tired night a brown stream a half inch in diameter and four feet long completely cleared the end of the changing table and fully violated the glider rocker -a point I will be sure to forget when it goes back on Craig's List (where we found it in the first place). Raising a baby, and now a toddler-turning-into-boy, is simultaneously impressive and disgusting.

Things changed when he started eating "people food". I was never one to keep score over diaper changes (over 2000 in the first year, but I wasn't really counting), but things got much more competitive between Laura and me once the bouquet achieved the power to singe nose hairs. Still, at first, he was fairly quiet for his changes, and small enough to restrain when necessary.

Now we find ourselves entering into a new era, where Jay's fascination with the excretory process is heightening. 

Jay enjoys walking around with his hand on his right bum cheek. Hey, who wouldn't, right? I expect the best way to cement such a behavior is to tell him he shouldn't. Also, lately, he has not wanted to wear pants at all in the morning while we're at home. I'm fine with that. 

This morning, my "open-mindedness" backfired. I noticed that his diaper was getting heavy, so I dug into his diaper bag and pulled out a "freshy". He saw me and bolted. For whatever reason, diaper changes are a point of contention. Anyway, I tried to coax him over. I'm still on crutches, and there is a circle around our couches in the living area. A chase would be useless, other than empowering him to run more often for more reasons. I mentioned that his Nana was coming over, and we should get dressed. He smiled, said "NANA!" excitedly, and took a few steps my way. His Muse of Roguery intervened, and sent him running the other way. I gave up and turned around in an attempt to take some energy out of the situation.

"Daddeeeeeee, no diaper!"

I turned back, and he was waving the very full, very heavy, very wet diaper over his head. He dropped it onto the carpet and ran into his "thinking corner". He squatted.

I expected the worst. To be honest, I haven't yet gone to make sure nothing happened over there, but given that he can transform the living room air into a dense blue cloud through a diaper and heavy sweat pants, I assume at this point I would know by now if he had dropped a bare-assed load on the floor. I'm still not going to look, although given that he has a decidedly distinct essence and form, it would be hard to blame it on the cats. There has been no blue cloud to this point. The cats are off the hook, I think.

Anyway, I asked him to throw his diaper in the trash. He LOVES throwing things in the trash, so he was happy to comply. On the way back, he stood on the tile floor for a second before I noticed that the lower front of his shirt was soaked. I looked for my crutches, and started thinking about how I was going to corner him. When I looked back, he was splashing his hands on the floor. 

"Daddeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It's a MESH!!! It's a MESH!!!!!" (meaning "mess"- we're still working on those "S" sounds".

Then, he shoved his wet hands into his mouth.

My disgust was clear enough that it broke the dynamic. With virtually no words exchanged, he walked into his room and lay down on the floor for a fresh diaper, and a clean shirt and pants.

He is reaching the age where the fascination will only grow, as well as his desire and willingness to maintain control over the situation. Developmental psychologists regard toilet training as "the first battle the child knows they can win."

We will keep approaching this with as much positive reinforcement as possible. He's already a control freak. There may be some truly "dirty" salvos fired. Even once he is trained, there will be accidents to clean, and it'll make changing dirty diapers seem like a desirable regression.  

As with all things, this too shall pass. Along with it will go the baby-like giggle, the toddler-ese language, and other charms of the age. If we do anything right, it will be to help him to retain the joy in simple pleasures, to stay happy and self-assured, and in the end, to do the right thing. 

And okay, I'd be fine if at some point he takes his hand off his ass.

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