You know that feeling you get where you know something’s wrong? Like when the kids are playing in the basement but you don’t hear a sound for five consecutive minutes and you just know they’re trying to rip the TV off the wall or light the couch on fire?
That’s the feeling I have at 6:20am on March 9th, 2020. Because it’s actually 7:20am. The day before was daylight savings time.
I forgot to change the clock.
Daylight savings time is great. Longer daytime hours. Warmer weather on the horizon. Kids refusing to go to bed because, “it isn’t dark outside!”
Most times I wish the time change were permanent. This is not one of those times. Because it’s Monday morning and we. are. late.
I jump in the shower. Katie yanks the kids out of bed and shoves bananas in their hands to occupy them so she can get ready.
She has to be in the office for an 8am meeting. Somehow she manages to get dressed and out the door in nine minutes flat. It’s one of her many superpowers.
But now I’m flying solo. The kids have to be at daycare by 8am or they miss breakfast number two. One measly banana will not hold them over. And I still have to feed myself and pack my lunch and make my third coffee and pray to God for patience and courage and more hours in the day. This will have to wait.
I start dressing Beau (3) at 7:50am. “I smell poop,” he says.
Dude. You’re 3. You just like to say the word “poop.”
Which is true. But then I turn to Bennett (1.5) so I can change his diaper and dress him.
Toddler poop, to use the preferred terminology. The brownish substance with the consistency of apple sauce and the smell of rotting death covers his backside from the base of his skull to the bottoms of his feet.
So I do what any experienced dad would do. I throw a bunch of paper towels down to protect the floor and start giving him a wet-wipe bath. I’ve met very few blowouts I couldn’t fix with enough wet wipes.
But then this wouldn’t be much of a story if it ended with, “I clean him up, dress him, and get the kids to school in time for breakfast.”
There is no salvaging the situation. I’ve seen my fair share of blowouts, and this is Chernobyl. This is how I imagine the Apocalypse.
My only option is to get Bennett to the bath tub while doing as little damage to my clothes as possible. So I do my best Frankenstein walk, carrying him at arms’ distance up the stairs to the biggest bathtub in the house.
To ratchet up the tension even more, he’s screaming the whole time. I tell him that raising his voice at me does not make my job any easier. That I don’t perform well in high-pressure situations. That he’s triggering my fight-or-flight response.
He doesn’t care. He also doesn’t speak English.
I drop him in the tub, peel his clothes off, and start the water. I can’t use a washcloth because who wants diarrhea on their washcloth?
So I use my hands. I scoop up water in my hands and wipe the poop off him, little by little. I watch little brown chunks swirl down the drain in the same tub the kids bathe in every night. I hope none gets stuck in the strainer. Over and over and over until he’s clean(ish). Then I plug the drain and used actual soap and a washcloth to sanitize him.
I clean the crime scene, dress Bennett, grab my coffee, and walk out the door at 8:40am.
We’ll all have to do without breakfast.
There’s a fine line between chaos and order. I focus my energy on the “order” part.
Katie and I share Google calendars where we keep up with activities and events. I track our budget, savings, and investments to the penny. I plan and log all my meals and workouts.
Overkill? Maybe. But it keeps me from making some of the same dumbass mistakes I made as a 30-year old child.
I also hate being late. If I have to be somewhere at a certain time, I leave the house in time to arrive at least ten minutes early. Anything else is late.
Then we introduced chaos into our lives by having kids.
Kids don’t care about perfection and order. They don’t care about plans or budgets or calories. They sure as hell don’t care about holding their explosive poops until they get to daycare so I can pawn the responsibility off on someone else and make it to work at a reasonable hour.
But that’s what makes them so great. Little kids don’t have high expectations. They just want to have fun and be in the same room with mommy and daddy.
They want to be present. And they want the same from us.
Which would be much easier if they didn’t choose to detonate fecal atomic bombs as we’re walking out the door.