So the other morning as I was trying to get out the door to work my daughter pooped in her diaper. If you are looking for evidence that parenthood softens the brain, look no further than my un-ironic use here of the verb poop. The poop was not a surprise, as my daughter has yet to show any sign that she'd prefer to use the potty for this sort of thing and for her the morning is, well, a prime window of the day for a healthy bowel movement. As it is for many of us.
I was, of course, playing with the little tot at the time. As she does every day, her level of engagement with me takes on an intensity, sometimes a slightly frantic one, as I prepare to leave for work.
I stoically lifted my daughter into my arms to carry her upstairs to the changing table, putting aside a tiny flash of dismay that her mother was still enjoying her morning tea and I would be delayed a few minutes longer from departing for the office. One of the unanticipated side-effects of becoming self-employed has been losing access to hastily muttered excuses like "I'd change her, but I don't want to be late for work." My wife was the first to detect this absence.
Upstairs, assuming the position over my wriggling child on her changing table, it became apparent to me that this was not a run-of-the-mill poop. It was a large poop, a poop explosion as my wife and I often say, and its foulness was enhanced considerably by the presence of a number of semi-masticated blueberries. The toddler parents among you are nodding sympathetically at the mention of the word blueberries. My anxiety increased commensurate with the additional delay this represented.
I went about the work as quickly and efficiently as I could, but still failed to prevent my daughter from dragging one foot through the sodden mass in the diaper or from engaging in a Joycean stream of terms reflecting the preoccupations of a twenty-two month old brain: poo-poo papa pa-poo bu [blue] bu-papa bu-bay [berry] papa. She finished her thoughts on the topic by energetically twisting her body to try to get up and simultaneously wiping her poop-smeared hands on my shirt.
The shirt, I should add, was freshly returned from the dry-cleaner. At this point my wife walked in. As she surveyed the devastation around the changing table, she made what struck me as a feeble attempt to keep from smirking.
"She wiped poop on my shirt," I noted as I finished up and lowered my daughter to the floor, trying not to sound resentful. My wife was still holding her tea. I tried to sound brisk. "Ok, now I'm really off to work."
"Aren't you going to change your shirt?", my wife asked incredulously.
I looked down slowly at my torso, realizing this was a question I'd
been avoiding. My daughter, who had by this time collected several
books from her bookshelf, was now tugging at my leg and demanding that
I read to her. I wanted to leave.
"It is a brown shirt...." I paused, reluctant to glance up at my wife, whose smirk had escaped entirely and was now romping across her face. "Yes, I guess I should." Outside my car sat cold on the street. As I turned to walk back to the bedroom I could see the neighbor backing out of her driveway, her Subaru steaming in the February air.