Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poop-Smearing and Full Body Cringing

I was blessed with a placid first baby. Little Christopher had his moments, but generally he ate, slept, and hung out. Smiling. My husband, Marty, and I even took him on a trip to Europe when he was eighteen months old. We had friends living overseas, and traipsed around Paris like lovers, with an agreeable little boy in a stroller. On the long flight over we deposited him in the infant bassinet contraption that attached to the seatback infront of us and we all slept. Ahhhh....

I did know, even then, that we were lucky. I was not delusional that his good nature was simply a product of my expert parenting acumen. I am a worrier, and insecure, so to gloat about my part in this wasn't the conclusion I embraced. I had experienced the awful tragedy of losing my only brother when I was pregnant with Christopher. I reasoned that some higher-power was giving me a break. But there was this tiny part of me that looked at beastly children and their weary parents with wee condescension. Why don't they just strap that kid in the stroller and let him cry? Why doesn't that mom just stop giving in to her so much? Why don't they just say no and stick to it?

And then came Brendan. He arrived unexpectantly. No, I didn't deliver him myself, unaware of my pregnancy, like on that fabulous Discovery Health program that I rubberneck. His pregnancy showed its big blue plus sign in the bathroom of a Walgreen's, with calm toddler Christopher in the stall with me, just after I had quit my long-term job to start with a new company. I did not start that new job. Brendan launched me into the world of the stay-at-home mother. When I repeated the Walgreen's stall beginning to a friend who works for a giant retail pharmacy chain, she informed me that drug stores have a big shoplifting problem with girls who steal pregnancy tests and take them in the bathrooms. I might be the only person who learned of her pregnancy in a stall with a paid-for EPT test.

Brendan looked very much like his older brother. Light brown hair, big blue eyes, half-irish ethnicity shining (blinding?) from his skin. At first, it seemed like the sleeping beauty in the crib might be a repeat order. Ahhh, it's so pleasant to watch a baby sleeping.

And then he grew, grinned, crawled, ran, climbed up on tabletops, ripped, grinned running away from me towards traffic, SCREAMED, defied, slapped, dragged items out of cabinets and drawers, LAUGHED, banged into things and kept on running, hid from me in the house, tumbled down stairs, fought any kind of restraint (car seat, stroller, highchair) and threw any book I attempted to read him across the room triumphantly. But the worst...the most cringeworthy....was THE POOP SMEARING.

Calm three-year-old Christopher was by my side when we entered the room after Brendan's nap time and discovered the debauchery. Literally. Shit. Everywhere. Sheets. Crib. Face. Fingernails. He had even created a mural on the flat surface on one of the inside walls. He preened like a peacock. This one-year-old had defeated me and he knew it.

At first we stood in shock. Christopher's mouth hung open like mine.

"Ewwwhhh," he said. "Is that his poop?"

I cringed. It was a full physical clench, the kind that starts in your jaw and radiates up and down through your limbs like some form of electroshock therapy. I wondered if I would ever unclench. It was not merely the prospect of a toxic clean-up. It was that this being was MY KID. What the hell was waiting for me in the future?

There is not an ounce of parental smugness left in me. And, no, I don't want to submit this story to a parents magazine.


  1. Ahh yes....nice little stroll down memory lane here. (Still can't believe you took pix...I don't think I would have been running to get the camera.) As I recall, this led to one of those all too frequent calls to me at work..."Do you want to hear what your son just did?"

  2. I love that you took a picture first then cleaned up!

  3. We had a similar "code brown" once. My husband put her in the shower before I could see her. He said it was so I would be able to "still love her." (His words.) I washed the crib with bleach 4 times before I moved on to soap and water.

  4. My Godchild is a will all be calling him "Mr. President" one day.

  5. he's bound to be an artist