About Me

San Francisco, California
I am Ethan and Chase's Mama and my man's Sugar. I have flown a plane, driven a race car, and been pushed out of a train. I have swum with dolphins, climbed the Untersberg, and thrown tortillas in more than one location. I have great arms and a law degree. I hate housework. I can't iron. I love my dustbuster because I occasionally allow my kids to eat off of the floors. I wish I were taller and for my boys to grow up in a peaceful world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Messiest. Day. Ever.

I expected parenthood to be messy. Messy diapers. Spit up. Spills and leaky sippy cups. I have learned to accept most of the messes associated with caring for my young son. Sometimes, however, I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume and constancy of them. Today was one of those overwhelming days.

Adding to the usual messiness, I have decided to start potty training my son. It is unconventional in the U.S. to start potty training at thirteen months. Still, it is not unheard of. Early potty training is common in places around the world where the expense of diapers lends itself to getting children out of them more quickly. I don't particularly like diapers. So I would like to be done with them soon. Ethan may have a different plan in mind.

First things first, I bought Ethan a potty. It is a little pea-green (pee-green?) number with four stumpy dinosaur feet and googly eyes to protect by-standers from seated stream. The potty is in the living room because that is usually where we are and I want to be able to get Ethan to it quickly.

Day 1 was uneventful. On day number 2 he pooped in the potty! No, I did not ask my young toddler if he had to go. He still calls me Dah! so I chose not to bother with chit-chat. I simply waited for the poop face. You know the one. And ran him over to the potty.

He pooped. Naturally I thought it was all done. I gave my son the all done? sign – making jazz hands backwards and forwards above my shoulders. He signed back All done! All done! All done! flapping his arms and hands up and down in front of him with such force that his little body rocked with the movement.

Great. Off you go. Time to clean the potty. No need to put a diaper on yet because he just did his business. Or so I thought. As I cleaned up in the bathroom, he pulled himself up to the coffee table and peed onto one of the legs and the carpet. And then he pooped again.

I watched it happening, powerless to stop it in time.

Quickly I accepted that this was all part of potty training. I said, Uh oh, and accidents happen, as I grabbed the Oxy-clean and wiped up the mess.

Now you must be done, I said, but just in case, let’s get you off the carpet. I took him into the bathroom with me but did not put on a diaper, thinking, how could it get worse? Repetitive pooping is usually not how our bodies work. Usually.

After clean up number 2, I stepped away from my small son to get the diaper. When I got back, there was more number 2. For a third time. All over. He had stepped in it. And moved. A lot.

Into the tub. Then on with the diaper. It would seem like that would be enough mess for one day. Alas, the day was not over.

Next he ran through vomit while we were playing in the park. I had not seen it in time. So gross. I pulled off his little zapatitos (I just love using the diminutive form of Spanish words. Zapatitos. So much more fun, I think, than shoesies.) and socks. Then I sat down with him to think through my dilemma: there was yucky stuff and a hazard – a little running stream – within his toddling distance so I could not leave him to his own devices long enough to rinse the shoes, but I also could not put the unwashed shoes in my car. I just couldn't.

I sat there for a while. Stumped. Then I settled on a solution: ditch the shoes. And I did, for a minute. Then I remembered that these were the only shoes that I could actually get on his feet in under 15 minutes. I pulled the sun hat off his fair little head and wrapped the shoes up in it. Not breathing through my nose, I considered the problem solved and drove home.

I had a meeting that evening, but was having a hard time getting out the door. Ethan was fussing, clinging. To distract him, I got the jello jigglers from the refrigerator.

I can’t believe I just wrote that. It felt so matter of fact, like, doesn’t everyone keep a few jello jigglers on hand for self-extraction purposes? I gave them to Ethan. He did not eat them. He squished them, decapitating the neon-red rabbit shape. (Yes, I cut jello not into squares but into bunnies.)

It worked. He giggled hee-hee. When Ethan giggles, it is a rounded, vibrating sound. His tiny new vocal cords must have more pliability than an adult’s. Hee Hee from an adult comes out just like that: Hee. Hee. With edges. Out of Ethan, it almost sounds like a purrr. I want to keep that sound forever in my memory.

Then the jello jigglers plan stopped working because he began throwing the jello. Sticky red clumps landed everywhere.

Desperate, I picked him up, stripped him down, grabbed the jello shapes with one hand and scudded off to the bathtub with him under my other arm. I dropped him and the jello in together. Go for it, I said, and then chucked a piece of jello at him. It stuck to his belly.


3 poop clean-ups, 2 trips to the tub, 1 vomit incident, and 1 final, late-night cleaning to get the red, bleeding, gelatinous glop off of bathroom fixtures. It was the messiest day yet. But at the end of it I got to hear that ticklish, kitten-like giggle, which was the last thing I thought of as I fell asleep smiling.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you playfully tossed a tiny bit of jello onto his stomach. After he made you clean up all of his "mess" (and on multiple occasions, no less) he happily accepted the jello projectile as his punishment!