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Poopy Pinkie Update

5 Mar

A dog with infinite patience is a treasure.

Children are impressionable and are firm advocates of the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do philosophy of life.  As parents, we’re aware of these facts, but there are still moments when we’re taken by surprise. 

My little Phoebe has been my frequent sidekick on trips to the vet with our dog Gretzky.  The most recent one, however, had quite an impact on her curiosity and penchant for reenactment.  I was folding laundry last week in the master bedroom when my daughter walked in and handed me a small hairbrush she has had since infancy.

“Mommy, can you please wash this hairbrush?  It stinks.”

I sized up the manner in which she held the thing—pinching the portion that housed the bristles between her thumb and forefinger with one hand, pinching her nose shut with the other. 

“Why does it stink?” I asked. 

“Because it was in Gretzky’s butt.” 

Phoebe offered this explanation without fanfare, and without the laughter that would accompany such an outrageous statement if it were meant as a joke.  I eyed the hairbrush suspiciously.  The evidence I was hoping not to find was streaked on the otherwise white handle—only a smear of light brown, but enough to let inquiring minds know where it had been.  The dog came into view of the bedroom’s doorframe.  He looked okay, but he was sporting those “Help Me” eyes I have seen many times since my daughter’s birth four years ago.

“Why was the hairbrush in Gretzky’s butt?”  I asked, still a little fazed that I had occasion to utter the words.

“Because I was pretending to take his temperature like the vet did,” Phoebe answered in a tone that implied I should have known this already. 

“Phoebe, only the vet is allowed to take Gretzky’s temperature.  Do you understand?  I know you wanted to pretend you were helping Gretzky, but you are not allowed to put anything in the dog’s butt.  Nothing goes in Gretzky’s butt.  Nothing,” I still could not believe the necessity of the conversation.

Phoebe, looking visibly disappointed, turned on her heel and went to sulk in her room.

And I went to the bathroom with the hairbrush.  And some bleach.

The Mile High Snub

27 May

Planes, elevators and port-a-potties probably top the list of what get my neurotic juices flowing.  My husband, who loves to laugh at me, enjoys flying with me because the face I make during turbulence trumps all my other idiosyncrasies. He even has a name for it: ‘the monkey face.’  Oh, and it comes with complimentary monkey noises too.  Very attractive.  The antidote for the monkey syndrome came when our daughter was born.  Babies know when you’re faking it, so when she was four months old and we took our first flight as mommy and baby, I had to replace ‘monkey face’ with ‘game face.’

My in-laws flew me up while my husband was away at work, and being alone with our baby girl Phoebe meant I would have no back-up in the event “the monkey” made an inadvertent appearance.  Thankfully, flying with a little one who is still nursing brings a set of challenges that completely distracted me from my usual preoccupation with falling out of the sky in a ball of fire.  Fear was quickly replaced by an apologetic air while Phoebe screamed, and then an even more apologetic air while I stuck her head under my shirt so she would stop.  I lay a blanket over my shirt to shield the spectacle and relaxed while she enjoyed a snack that would fill her tummy and pop her ears.

To say the man in the seat next to me was “visibly uncomfortable” is the understatement of the century.  He had eyed me earlier as I made my way down the aisle toward his row with all the joy of someone anticipating root canal.   He recoiled from my aisle seat and hunched so far into the fuselage wall and window that I thought he might actually have a parachute strapped to his back.

Just in case I wasn’t picking up the vibe, he proceeded to ring the flight attendant bell and ask if there were any free seats, “… any at all anywhere else on the plane.”

“I’m sorry,” the female attendant said without sympathy, “It’s a full flight today.”

When the attendant was out of sight, I addressed the man who was now unsuccessfully feigning sleep with a scowl on his face.

“Listen, I’m not going to apologize for feeding my daughter.  You either deal with the most natural thing in the world or deal with a baby screaming in your ear.”

And then the turbulence hit.  I could feel the monkey coming on.  The monkey who was stopped dead in his tracks by the sound of my precious baby farting and crapping so loudly it could be heard over the steady roar of a 737.

Ah the sweet sounds and smells of comic relief.  I didn’t even care that the plane was being tossed about like one of my daughter’s toys.  After about fifteen minutes of baby grunts, and the unmistakable sound of a diaper filling up, Mr. Uncomfortable felt compelled to actually speak to me.

“You should take care of that.” He eyed my daughter like she was a Hefty bag that needed to be taken to the curb.  The new mother in me resisted the urge to slap the hostile look right off his face.

But he had a point. She stank.

The thought of changing her diaper at 37,000 feet in a cramped space the size of a genie’s bottle that doubled as an international germ factory was bringing on a round of anxiety that threatened to dash my calm veneer.  I had been so good.  No monkey noises.  Phoebe wasn’t picking up on my fear because I’d kept it in check.  Taking her to that closet with a vacuum that posed as a toilet just wasn’t an option.

And then I took a deep breath in an attempt to shore myself up for the task, but inhaling just shored up my gag reflex.  At a mere four months, my daughter had managed to produce a stench that could rival the dumps on Staten Island. (FYI for the non-New Yorkers- those suckers can be seen from space.)  Sour milk and garbage.  This is what she had created.  My urge to hurl subsided considerably and my baby was content in the way one can only be after a great meal and a spectacular shit.  I held her in my lap and debated whether stripping her down in an airplane toilet while the plane was still bucking against a headwind was the best option.

As Mr. Uncomfortable had no emotional attachment to the source, he couldn’t suppress his gag reflex and he retched several times before issuing a reminder.

“Take care of that.  Now.”

I usually play well with others.  I swear.  But this was war.

“Sure thing,” I said, syrupy sweet.

Cradling my daughter in the arm nearest the aisle, I reached into the diaper bag to pull out a diaper and baby wipes, then began unbuttoning my daughter’s pajamas.

“You aren’t going to change her right here are you?” Mr. Uncomfortable’s eyes were enormous.

“It’s not safe to get up during this kind of turbulence with a baby.  And we’ve already started our descent into LaGuardia.”

He studied me to see if I was bluffing.  I wasn’t.  I had changed this kid on my lap, on sidewalks, on backseats.  I gave him my best “try me” look and finished unbuttoning Phoebe’s pajamas.  Without that extra barrier of clothing the shit was intense.  Mr. Uncomfortable gagged while I smiled and handed him an air sickness bag which he snatched from my hand.

“Should I just wait until we land?”  I offered.

He nodded.

The captain came over the cabin speakers.

“There’s a little bit of a backup at LaGuardia tonight due to high winds.  We’re going to have to circle around for awhile until we get clearance for landing.  We’ll have you on the ground in about thirty minutes.”

For thirty minutes I bounced Phoebe in my lap and sang to her while she smiled and continued to reek of sour milk and garbage.

Mr. Uncomfortable just clung to his air sickness bag, staring at the back of the seat in front of him and enduring the longest thirty minutes of his life.

Ah……Karma.

Strange Days Indeed

2 Feb

My daughter is three now, but sometimes I just stare at her in disbelief across the breakfast table.  There is a person there, where before there was no person.  She grew in my belly like a science project.  And now she talks to us.  Some days it’s as if she’s been living in our house for always, other days she seems miraculous.  Sometimes it’s just weird.  The truth about parenting is that nothing can prepare you for just how weird it can be. 

The things kids say and the things they make you say….It’s all just unexpected and unpredictable.  Living with a three-year-old is a lot like living with a drunk midget.  They’re tiny, loud and demanding.  And there’s the occasional puddle of puke and random dump on the floor.  You never know what the day will bring.

Before I was a mom, I’d see stories on the news about terrible things happening to kids and I would be very judgmental. Not anymore.  When I have to go to the bathroom and my toddler is playing quietly, I think to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen in the two minutes I’ll be in the other room?”

Well, the kid could catch on fire or end up unconscious and bald sprawled out next to the electrical outlet with a fork in one hand.  But that’s not what I think about when I am desperate for a quiet dump alone without my drunken midget audience smacking my knees and asking why poop smells so awful.  All I am thinking is, “Victory is mine!  I can shit in peace and the little bugger won’t even know I’m gone.” 

Several months ago, I had such an opportunity for a private poop while my daughter was completely lost in her watercolor painting.  When I returned from the bathroom, the dog was walking around the house with a pencil hanging out of his ass.  

“What happened here?” I asked my little midget.    

All I got was a blank stare and a meek “I dunno.” 

Sometimes bad stuff happens and I’m right there, powerless to stop the onslaught of bruises or the soiling of clean clothes.  The very next day after the pencil-in-dog-ass incident, my daughter was eating at the table with no pants on.  I don’t know what she did with them.  Just when I was going to ask her what she did with them, she burst out, bright as sunshine, “Mommy I just had a wet fart.”

“What do you mean?” 

She sat up and announced, “Look at it Mommy.  It looks like a little slug.” 

It did.  There was a poop slug curled up peacefully on the kitchen chair. I scooped up my daughter roughly and ran to the bathroom, because another ‘slug’ was in the process of escaping her ass.

When I returned to the kitchen, intent on disposing of the wet-fart-poop-slug, my bleach wipes were met with an empty chair.  Genuinely perplexed, I stood there examining the other, equally empty, kitchen chairs. 

“There was poop here twenty seconds ago,” I mused aloud to nobody in particular but the dog. 

The dog who stared at me, licking his lips. 

“Oh, no!”  I shouted. 

His response was to merely lick his lips again and wag his tail, alternating his gaze from me to the kitchen chair as if to say, “Yeah, yeah. Give me another one of those poop slug snacks.”

My first instinct was to reprimand the dog, but then I spotted tiny little shit crumb he had left behind and said, “There you go buddy you missed a spot.” 

And then I laughed until my cheeks burned and my abs ached.  Not just because my dog ate my daughter’s shit, or because just the day before my daughter had shoved a pencil into the dog’s ass. It was because John Lennon was speaking to me through the radio.  Normally when Lennon “speaks” to me through the radio it is some poignant reminder of the simple necessity of peace, but not that day.  That day he seemed to speak to me about the wonderful weirdness of parenthood: the drunken midgets, the poop slugs, the poop-eating puppies; all of it.

“Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed.  Most peculiar Momma.” 

Amen.

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