My children know when their daddy is holding them. They say that the mother releases chemicals that calm her child when she holds them, and these chemicals strengthen the bonding instinct, encourage the child to relax, and so forth–all the things needed to foster a good relationship. I’m convinced that the father emits pheromones of his own, and these pheromones encourage the child to evacuate all of his or her fluids as soon as possible.
I know, I know. I’m the parent of a toddler and an infant, of course I’m going to encounter my share of poop and barf and pee.
But this is more than that. If they were capable of rational, malicious thought, I’d swear it was deliberate. A conspiracy, even. But they’re not. Which means it’s chemical.
- Exhibit A: My son is three weeks old, and spending another (thankfully) uneventful day in the NICU. At about one in the afternoon, I’m burping him after a feeding and he has a rather violent projectile vomiting incident which bounces off my shoulder, splashes down my back, and splats satisfyingly on the floor. That’s not a big deal; he had digestive issues and spit-ups were all too common. Then an hour later, I’m rocking him in the chair and I feel a warm patch on my stomach. He’s peed through the diaper and soiled my shirt for the second time that day. Okay, that’s a heck of a coincidence–pee and barf on the same shirt in the space of an hour–but it doesn’t mean anything. Until I’m changing his diaper about another hour on, and a fountain of poo erupts from his tiny little butt and sprays out to a distance of four or five feet on the hospital floor, in a horrible messy line up my pants and across my shoes. I take to calling this the trifecta, a day which will live in toddler poop infamy.
- Exhibit B: My son is about a year and a half old, and he has the stomach flu. If you’ve had a toddler with the stomach flu, you know the pain. If not, I’ll spare you. Anyway, he’s got a happy strain of it, which gives him no ill effects aside from explosive diarrhea, so he’s merrily gallivanting around the house, then he turns to me and says, “stomach!” So I scoop him up and run for the tub, because I know what’s coming, and to my credit, I got him there, but he and I were both doused in poop as he went into the tub. Sigh.
- Exhibit C: It’s two days after Exhibit B, and we are having a lovely day on a weekend. Mom’s in the kitchen, cooking or doing whatever moms do in the kitchen on a weekend. He’s in my lap and we’re watching an episode of something awful. Barney, maybe, or Yo Gabba Gabba. With no warning at all, his stomach erupts and blankets me and the sofa in a thin film of white, curdled, toddler spew. To his credit, this scares the hell out of him, and he starts crying, which makes it even worse. That couch has never been the same.
- Exhibit D: We fast-forward to two days ago. I’ve been at work for an extra-long day (soccer practice is starting up after school, so I’m pulling 11-hour days) and I arrive home to find my wife exhausted and frazzled, so I gladly take my five-month-old daughter off her hands so that she can go do whatever moms do in their bathrooms on a weeknight. I’m cradling the baby and cooing and giggling at her and she rips loose with a projectile vomit that ricochets off my shoulder, douses her and me, and covers the bottom half of my face with a fine mist of baby barf. This child never spits up. She chose to have her inaugural barf-your-brains-out movement all over daddy. This moment makes me glad we replaced the carpet in that room with laminate last year.
- Exhibit E: FINALLY, DADDY CATCHES A BREAK. It’s yesterday. Friday night, and everything’s allllllll right. Baby girl gets grumpy every night in the five o’clock hour, and the best remedy is putting her in the Baby Bjorn carrier, better known in our house as the Daddy Caddy (since I used it the most with sprout #1, though mommy sure gets her fair share with it as well). I think that’s important to point out, because my smell is ALL UP IN that thing. Anyway, mommy’s got her in the Daddy Caddy, and all of a sudden asks me if I smell poop. Well, I don’t, but I do see the poop stain creeping down baby’s leg and the bottom of mommy’s shirt. I’m trying not to laugh but inside I’m turning somersaults because finally, FINALLY, mommy got pooped on instead of me. She even got it on her hands while she was trying to clean up. Life is good.
- Exhibit F: But payback is a beesting. It’s today. I’ve got baby girl in the Daddy Caddy, and it might as well be a shot-for-shot remake of Exhibit E, except it’s me this time. Poop all over the baby, poop all over the Caddy, poop all over daddy. It’s on my hands as I clean her. I might even have touched my face in there by accident–I couldn’t even tell you. It’s all a haze of wet wipes and orange goop.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I can’t even recount all the times I’ve been sneezed on or drooled on, unsuspectingly touched pee or poop, ended up wearing barf or spit-up. Of course there was the great tub-turd incident back in July. My point is, this is all too much bodily fluids to write off as the by-product of toddler interaction. Either the sprouts are actively targeting me, or, as I posit, something about me causes them to swell to bursting.
The only natural course is to buy a hazmat suit for all future interactions with the kids. For their protection, not mine. And the house’s. And, yeah, okay, also mine.