Shit happens – and gets cleaned up

It’s funny how there is this over arching sense of shit around parenting. Constipation, loose motions, diapers, potty training, finding toilets on the highway… a whole range of worries.

When I had the Brat I didn’t know what hit me – green slimey matter one day, something that  resembled goat cheese the next. From being the young couple who wouldn’t know which end of a baby is up to closely examining the contents of a diaper to see if a missing button was indeed ingested, it’s a short and rather painful journey. I’ll stop before I gross out the non-baby people.

But I will admit that I waited and prayed for him to be toilet trained. At that point in my life it seemed like it was a matter of grave importance and if I didn’t hurry he’d be the only college kid carrying diapers in his backpack. And it happened, slowly and steadily – funnily, very early, as I later realised. It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a post on the Brat getting out of his night diapers. Most young parents are too busy cleaning poop off various surfaces and calculating what they spend on diapers in one month to remember that there is more to it and those who are older don’t bother to tell them that it’s too early to exhale.  That there still remains the stage where they learn to wash their own butts.

Washing two butts other than my own every morning really poses no problem and so I didn’t think much of it. Well, no real problem compared to the nights when he was a newborn, I was lying with my aching stomach stitched up, waking every 2 hours to feed him, every 25 minutes to change his cloth nappy and the cloth beneath it and every 1 hour to walk him back to sleep.

Last year I realised that he’d pretty much taken over his own physical care, except for washing his botty on the potty. No burden on me really, but it would be a good time to get that sorted out too, I figured. And so I began to prepare – not him, but myself, for handing over that last matter of hygiene. But how? I’d never done this before. And I knew he didn’t have it in him to balance a mug of water with one hand and wash with the other.

Hold the mug for him, said one friend. Well that isn’t a solution when he is in school and no one is around to pour.

Teach him to wipe with toilet paper till it comes away clean, suggested another. The OA and I looked at each other and shuddered. We’re desi – we worship soap and water. The thought of a merely wiped and unwashed bum gave us the heebie jeebies. Besides that was not a solution – he’d not find toilet paper in a school or friend’s bathroom.

And then I finally broached it with him and he looked at me disgustedly. What? Wash my own bum? And dirty my hands?

I looked at him in confusion. Eh? And what do you think my hands are like after washing your butt, mister, I asked him? Smelling of flowers?

I’m not doing it, he said firmly. I realised I was also worried about how good a job he’d get done and I didn’t want his hands left dirty.

And so I just stuck to the morning routine and we left  it at that. Until the OA walked in to the toilet one morning and took control. You’re washing your butt if its the last thing you do, he told the Brat. Who took one look at his father and meekly complied.

I stared in shock. And then it struck me. He heard nothing but firmness in his father’s voice. But in my suggestion, he heard something close to hesitation and a tinge of sadness. No, I don’t really get my kicks out of getting another person’s crap on my hands every morning, but with this, the last of the physical dependence my son had on me was over. And somewhere at the back of my mind, that bothered me.

I speak only for myself but the bond that comes from being physically attached to another is a hard one to break. From feeling the quickening of the womb, watching your slim waist swell to 48 inches and your breasts rival Pamela Anderson’s, to physically and painfully delivering your body of that child. From attaching the child to your breast again and dealing with the rigours of nursing to rocking the child against your body and watching the tiny trusting fingers curl into yours to massaging the little limbs with oil and gently holding them over a tub and nervously pouring the first mug of water. From supporting tha baby back as it wobbles and sits up to holding your hands out to break the first fall. From wiping runny noses to powdering a little round bum. So much of parenting is just the physical.

As you cut the last physical connection you realise what lies ahead. A relationship that for the next 50 years that will depend entirely on words and emotions. That made its foundation in those first few days in your belly in physicality but is moving out of that realm. Senses will alert to Mama’s smell of Pond’s powder even 30 years later even though Mama will not be nursing. The books say a baby needs to be held and nursed during the early days so that it can see and begin to recognise the mother’s features. I cling to that scant comfort and hope that six years of physically holding him, cuddling him, wiping his mouth, cleaning his nose and rocking him to sleep have left their mark. That he has got as much love and security from my physical presence as possible.

Yes, I still feed him on days that the fish needs to be de-boned. I still help him blow his nose. I still barge into the toilet, poke my head through the shower curtain and remind him to wash behind his ears. I still get into bed and pull a child on to each arm and sing them to sleep, awkwardly flapping my hands around them in an attempt to pat and hug. But these are all good-to-do. Not have-to-dos. And with the Brat being the elder one, I go through heart burn with each milestone, each step taken.

And so dear friends, comes to an end the entire potty training episode for child number one. He’s been entirely self -washed butt for some months now and I figured it was a milestone I shouldn’t forget to journal. Never mind if he kills me for this post someday.

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Training – potty and otherwise

You realise how far Gurgaon is when you’re on your way to visit friends and nature calls and there is just barren land for miles, nary a restaurant or loo in sight.

You realise how long you’ve been married when your husband paternaly pats you on the butt when you reach your friends’ house and says, “Please do susu before we leave their house.”

You realise how long you’ve been parents when he very kindly makes that statement in front of said friends, no thought to discretion.

You realise how long they’ve been married when neither of them even blinks.

Scatology

Thoughts on err… shit.

1.You know your kids have grown up when their shit begins to stink.

2. A sentence you never imagined you’d ever have to say- “Stop fighting! It’s only your turn to flush when it is your potty .”

3. When you begin to have to take your daughter to the ladies loo instead of just changing a diaper somewhere, you learn that ‘time flies’ is more than just a cliche.

4. Once you’ve been shat on, you’re ready to face most anything.

5. You marvel at how contrary your son can be when he tells you to leave the toilet and give him privacy, yet yells for you to wash his butt when he’s done, even giving instructions – “Mama, make sure the water is hot-cold, warm. That means not too hot, not too cold.”

Mama’s big girl

..also know as the Bean is entirely done with her potty training and is out of her night diapers too.

No accidents, nothing yet, touch wood. Of course as is usual with second babies, it’s been a month or two but I haven’t had a chance to post about it. And as is usual with second babies – she’s also a lot faster than the first was! I had written this very post about a year or so ago about the Brat and was so upset at being upset over his new found bladder control!

On the other hand, it’s not like stopping time or progress would make me any happier.  If she didn’t get bladder control we’d soon be talking to her ped about it. If she didn’t talk we’d go for speech therapy. When our kids don’t develop at the rate they’re supposed to, we panic. We see doctors. So why was I being so foolish….?

I was tidying up her wardrobe getting it winter ready when the half used pack of diapers stared me in the face cheekily. Almost taunting me with its uselessness. I took it out of the cupboard and sat down to think of who I could pass them on to. Nobody. Most of our friends’ kids are the Bean’s age or a little younger, but all much bigger built. And as I sat there holding them I felt my chest tighten. (PS: The irony of it is that she still sticks to her baby term for it – diapies!)

I guess its just the finality of it all. My babies are hardly babies if they have bladder control, are they? And this was my second baby. My last chance to indulge myself. I now watch with something close to envy as other women have their first baby. Knowing that right now they are awaiting their baby’s first step and first word while mine are chattering away, running around and growing up too fast. I know I’ve had my chance, but I’ve also had this time to realise that I am the best mother to new babies. There are women who prefer babies who do more than poop and sleep, or those who like their kids during the teen years, but I’m not one of those. I have endless patience with babies at the infant stage, I love their little soft bodies curling into me at night and I can watch them wobble on unsteady legs for hours.

So when the  2 year old Bean asserts herself and tells me that she will NOT wear what I picked for her, or the Brat turns away from me, hurt, saying he doesn’t love me, I miss the uncomplicated love of a newborn.  The not having to deal with personality clashes (yes, they start this early!) and being able to catch a warm wiggly body and squeeze it without it wriggling to get out of your arms to make a getaway.

Aneela visited with us for a few days and it’s a little cliched, but hell, I’ll say it anyway because its true. We might as well have always been friends. From sitting around on the floor drinking chai while babies crawled around us, to randomly picking up babies and burping them even though they’re not your own… we had a lovely time.

It also brought home a fact that someone else made a long time ago. Once you’ve had one kid you can have a few more and it doesn’t matter. Your systems are in place, so to speak. Aneela went for a bath and the OA and I lay in bed chatting, our kids running around the room, while Arhaan lay peacefully once across the OA’s chest and burped, another time rocked to sleep in my arms. Fortunately my kids fell in love with him (it helps that he is such a fall-in-lovable baby!) and wanted to do things for him all the time. The Bean was careless around him, almost falling on him, leaving me with my heart in my mouth (What? He’s someone else’s baby, for chrissake!) but she wasn’t in the least bit jealous – bringing him all her favourite toys and piling them up on top of him. The Brat kept wanting to clean his face, feed him dinner and then howled at night that ‘our’ baby was going to sleep in the guest room with Aneela Maashi and not in the nursery with them. Of course most praiseworthy was Aneela. New mom and yet she was completely cool about spit up, about my kids almost smothering hers and generally playing with him with unwashed hands etc. I was horrified and totally impressed – she’s going to be one of those entirely cool moms.

When they left for Dhaka my babies were totally bereft and the Brat had a meltdown as he accused me of sending ‘his’ baby away. I realised how simple it would be to just get another one into our home. It’s not easy eating a meal with a baby in your arms (of course they always wake up at your meal time and cry!)   but it’s not hard either. It’s just so much a part of our lives now.

I have to say I had terrible uterus contractions after she left and I glared balefully at my two big babies. Because of course it’s all their fault that they’ve grown up. I don’t see why the Bean couldn’t have stayed in night diapers a while more … it’s not like we’re running out of them.The OA on the other hand is keeping a firm eye on the birth control because I am deemed untrustworthy.

Okay jokes aside, I KNOW we don’t need a third and I wouldn’t ever do something so stupid deliberately… but just for the fun of it I try to talk the OA into it – ‘Three sounds so cool na?”  He refuses to be drawn into this and without even looking up, says ‘Two sounds cooler’. I snuggle up to him and try again “Don’t you miss the sound of baby footsteps?’.. He grimaces “Like I miss being hung and quartered”  And then he melts and grins. I know he loves kids as much as I do, but neither of us have it in us to go through this ever again… and yet.. what if?

I suddenly missed my brother and sister in law. The next lot of babies I have any sort of right to, will be theirs (whenever they plan some!) and the thought of them growing up somewhere else just bothers. Someone else knowing what makes them smile makes me grit my teeth. Someone else knowing what they like to eat is unacceptable. Someone else being their favourite aunt and uncle – is … is… blasphemous.

I know I whine about this all the time, but watching my kids with Arhaan made me realise how important it is for kids to grow up with lots of family in the house. With cousins. Learning to share and care and be gentle.  I leave you with pictures of them with Arhaan . And oh – don’t mind me. I’ll just be sitting in a corner mourning my last little birdie growing up too soon.

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On the other hand, I do take comfort from the fact that this picture looks just so complete…

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