It’s On My Mind

I’m obsessed with human waste. Not in the creepy I-keep-mason-jars-of-it-under-my-pillow sort of way, but in the it’s-constantly-at-the-forefront-of-my-mind fashion. I’d blame my daughter but honestly she doesn’t really seem all that concerned about it. Sure, when she’s been sitting in her own foul for half an hour she’ll express some dismay over her environment, but it’s not like she’s really interested in what it is, she only cares what it represents. I, on the other hand, care deeply about it for reasons I don’t fully understand.

Actually, that isn’t true. I do in fact understand my preoccupation with “poops” and “peepee.” It’s like when there’s that really annoying pop song that seems to be on everywhere you go, relentlessly pounding its syrupy beat and trite lyrics into your skull for days on end and finally your only defense is to give in, turn up the radio to sing along, download the track from iTunes and buy a T-shirt with the chorus hook printed on it to wear ironically and prove to everyone how cool you are for being so uncool. What I’m saying is I don’t want to spend so much time thinking and talking about doo-doo but I don’t have a choice because it keeps coming up so I can either gnash my teeth in impotent angst over it or pretend it’s some kind of scientific pursuit.

The reason it’s such a nagging constant these days starts with the diaper. I realized before we had a baby in the house that children of this age utilized diapers in lieu of toilets and I understood that they needed to be changed quite a bit. What I wasn’t exactly prepared for was the frequency of the diaper contents. Aside from the half dozen or so “pit stops” in the restroom which can be accommodated in my case by a urinal (or even a waist-high bush if it comes to that) I have about one serious visit per day. By comparison my daughter does upwards of six or seven number twos per day. Early in the morning it’s all fine and good, with much praise and odd parental pride: “Look at the big girl with her big girl poops! Such a good girl!” etc. By mid-day the tone has shifted more along the lines of “Again? Well, okay…” and by the early evening you’re hearing the sort of heavy bargaining typically reserved for International Treaty Negotiations only in this case the outcome is who has to change the current diaper and who is owned (and I quote) “Fourteen thousand back rubs and the full unrestricted rights to choose the pizza toppings for the next ten pizzas.”

But listen, if it was just the frequency I could readily treat it as an unfortunately regular annoyance that entered my mind only as necessary and then left just as readily. But alas the tragedy of baby ownership is that they lack any sort of reliable communication interface aside from a catch-all error code function which is not only excessively verbose but also frequently misreports problems and occasionally alerts for no reason at all. As such you’re left to secondary monitoring to determine the overall health of the unit and in this case it means you can only ordain the quality of the input by closely examining the output. Not that even this kind of analysis is really informative. I mean, given the various parameters described by the professionals, I know from experience you can have detailed debates with your co-administrators over whether a particular specimen exhibits problematic characteristics or not. If you want to try this experiment at home, see if you can agree with a family member about what qualifies as “mucousy” given no additional information or examples.

I can tell you authoritatively that there are relatively few parties like a parents party when a parents party gets going on a Friday night about whether this or that globule of excrement means the baby is sick, allergic to something, getting too much foremilk or is indicative of a normal infant’s digestive system. Holla.

But perhaps the most persistent human-by-product-related musings revolve around messes in undesired locations. I’m talking about pee in your hand or poop on your hat here. I like to think of myself as a fairly clean and sanitary person. I shower regularly, I prefer a tidy environment (maybe not to the same degree as some, but I’m certain more so than others) and I try to remain at least mostly presentable. But it only takes one—two at the most—instances of being out in public and finding some sort of excrement that doesn’t belong to you on your arm or shoe before you start to develop an ever-present concern that you may at any given point in time be sporting dookie on your pants. The terrible fear is that the baby may not even be around when a tragic discovery is made and it’s really hard to play off a big pee stain on the back of your shirt while you’re giving a career-making presentation to your boss’ boss’ boss without having something cute and cooing to distract people with.

I guess the best you can hope for is that they’re new parents too, at which point they’ll just be thinking, “Wait. Did I check the back of my shirt for urine this morning?”

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