Neck deep


I know it’s a cliche that parents will show off the quite prosaic developments of their progeny as signs of something wondrous. ("Look! Our child conforms to all the norms of development for a two month old! How unique and amazing we are as parents!") I know that babies are high volume processors of food. And yet I can’t help but be amazed at how comprehensively our child has covered me in crap today.

Let’s not be too jaded. It may not be special for a baby to grow, or to be able to hold its head up, or look at you, or gurgle, or flap its arms back and forth in a matter demonstrated by evolutionary advantage to be the cutest possible, but it’s still incredible. Just because lots of babies do what lots of babies do doesn’t mean that isn’t something awe-inspiring to see. But on the other hand, there’s only so amazed we can be by our children’s bowel movements.

Our daughter hadn’t slept well last night. Well, she hadn’t really slept, so my wife was frazzled and at 7:30 I was handed a child to deal with. She gurgled a bit, but looked in need of being winded, so I sat her up a few times; folding her tends to help stuff move around her guts. It certainly did this time: there was a wet, almost glutinous sound from within, and we had a nappy overflowing with bright liquid, as if she’d been fed on orange juice and mustard since birth.

Joyfully, she kicked around on the changing table. Soon we had to clean waste from her feet, from her tiny cute hand, from all the way up the back of her nice new dress. I beat a retreat for the office.

About ten thirty, perhaps inspired by my daughter, I went to the toilet. Imagine my wonder and confusion when I took down my trousers and discovered dried baby shit on the front of my underpants. Was this ghost poo? Was our daughter the David Blaine of defecation, capable of magically firing gunk through my trousers, without leaving a trace?

Come to think of it, if only that was a skill she had inherited from me: imagine the time you’d save if you didn’t have to take your trousers down when you needed a dump? Some people don’t bother anyway, but they’re generally what’s known as time-rich, cash-poor, and maybe don’t have the choice anyway.

Work was my sanctuary from this for a few hours, but all things come to an end, and at last I got the chance to go home and get changed. You might be thinking what a disgusting man I am, to spend all day in baby-poop-stained underwear. Disgusting man I might be, but I’m a disgusting man who couldn’t go home to get changed because I’d lent my doorkeys to a friend and therefore couldn’t get back into my flat until my wife got home.

I got home. I finally rid myself of the crusty underpants, and while I was at it, I divested myself of my shirt. And then I saw … a bruise on my chest? I didn’t remember colliding with anything.

Oh no. No.

I walked over to my wife. "Does this look like a bruise to you?"

She paused, midway through changing our child again. We both looked at the yellow discoloured patch on my chest. I looked at my wife. My wife looked at me.

"I’ll go wash it off" I said, and went to clean off the mark of the child from my torso. Where else had she sprayed?

She gave a smug look, then produced something large enough to disrupt the seals around her fresh nappy, and obliterate another outfit. What confusing alchemy is this? While it’s impressive that she can ingest a quarter of her body weight every day, and then push it back out again, it’s less awe-inspiring and just damn tiring when she seems to do it within the hour after I’ve got in from the office.

Still, if she’s going to have a superpower, there’s worse. Supernatural Vomit Woman is unlikely to get her own comic book series, after all.


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