The Poo-Nami

Diaper Loading please waitAh, the Poo-Nami.

In an ideal world, baby poop would come packaged up in neat little pellets that were easy to contain, easy to clean up and smelled like freshly baked cookies or something equally pleasant.

The reality, however, is somewhat different.

Well, O.K, it’s nowhere near the same.

As a new parent, when you have to change your first-ever Poo-Nami (also known as a Blow-Out) diaper, you might still be in the “cutesy” phase parenthood. Everything is still bright and shiny and new, and you have the cutest little baby who makes the cutest little sounds and the cutest little messes. When your little poop machine makes their first giant mess in their teeny-weeny little diaper… and pants… and shirt… and possibly their hair, you may even be the sort of parents who take pictures and post them online.

If you’re that kind of parent… seriously, what the hell’s the matter with you?

You may find yourself leaning over your baby, holding your nose, and saying things like: “Who’s the cutest little poopy pants in the whole world?”

Personally, I was the kind of new parent who held my breath while hosing the baby off in the shower, wondering how in the hell it was possible for so much nastiness to fit into such an adorable little body.

The experience loses whatever charm it had, believe me, and pretty quickly too. Those things aren’t cute. It won’t be long before you go from thinking your baby’s messes are adorable to browsing E-bay for the cheapest gas mask that you can find.

I think I should mention here that babies often have creative ways of “sharing the wealth”, by which I really mean “spreading the poop”.

Babies are creative. They will reach into their diapers and pull the mess out. They will pull off their diapers and butt-scoot across the floor. They may even decorate the walls with it. Out of all those creative ways to drive you to drink just with the contents of their diaper the Jolly Jumper is, in my opinion, the nastiest.

“But the Jolly Jumper keeps my little dude happy!” I hear you protest. “When he’s in the Jolly Jumper, I can get things accomplished!”

Indeed, you can accomplish things when your Mini Me is happily bouncing away, but that little bit of freedom can come with a price.

Now, a regular old Poo-Nami that goes up their front and back, down their legs and into their hair (and all over whatever they are wearing) is one thing. Having your baby in the Jolly Jumper when a Poo-Nami strikes gives the story a whole new twist.

Picture a poop sprinkler and you’ll have the right idea.

The Poo-Nami is one of those many little things that no parent on earth ever tells an expecting parent. I’m pretty sure there’s a good reason for that, but I’m inclined to think it’s because they don’t want you to give up your baby for adoption. It’s one of those things that will make you question your life choices, but you probably won’t hear about it until you have the unspeakable joy of experiencing it for yourself.

Then, they give you a knowing look, a pat on the back, and possibly a bottle of wine before you dissolve into fits of sobbing on their shoulder.

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How to Save a Life

I believe that Jill- little 5 years old Jill- has saved a life.

As we waited at the bus stop the other morning, my son in his stroller and Jill sitting on the metal bench, I was sort of keeping one eye on my kids and the other on the passing pedestrians. While Jack happily watched the cars go by and Jill sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over and over again, I thought about how people tend to view Autism and those who have it.

One of the typical stereotypes that surround Autism is that people who fall on the spectrum tend to be loners, anti-social or just socially awkward. It’s a stereotype with some truth to it, but the fact is it isn’t entirely accurate.
On the one end of the scale, you have people on the Spectrum who are the loners. It’s part and parcel of the difficulties many individuals with A.S.D have with social interaction or appropriate social behaviour, after all. On the other end of the scale are those people you don’t hear as much about: the over-friendly types. They may still have problems with figuring out how to interact with their peers, or what is appropriate social behaviour in any given situation, but they tend to act like everybody is their friend. In these cases, they can be friendly with everyone to the point of being inappropriate or even dangerous.

It’s hard to tell a small child who has no concept of stranger danger that, sometimes, being friendly is not the right thing to do.

My kids fall on the latter scale, and it was that in particular that I was thinking about that morning.
Jill likes to talk to whomever she meets at the bus stop. I let her do it, despite it sometimes being hard to watch her, because I think it’s good for her to socialise with people- under controlled circumstances, anyway.

Besides, I’m not always sure where I should draw the line.

Anyway, back to my story.

It wasn’t long after we got to the bus stop that another woman entered the shelter. Jill, true to her usual self, immediately said hello.

I looked at the lady without saying anything; I just watched her interaction with my daughter. She gave Jill a little tolerant smile and said “hello” back. It was clear on her face, and in her voice, that the lady was struggling with something; she looked to be on the verge of tears, and barely holding it in. Without a second thought, Jill flashed the woman her patented thousand-watt smile and said: “I love you!”

The lady’s smile grew a hundred times brighter.

I wanted to tell Jill, just then, that she shouldn’t say those words to complete strangers.

I wanted to say she shouldn’t just throw those three words around, that she should save them for people she really cared about.

I wanted to tell her it was inappropriate, but I didn’t.lifesaver

I looked at the woman’s brilliantly smiling face, and kept my mouth shut. It was obvious those three words, seemingly said at just the right time by the right person, meant something- at least to that lady.

There is no way, between the sun and the earth, that either of us could have known what the lady was thinking.

There is no way we could know for sure what she was considering doing but maybe, just maybe, a friendly little girl with a bright smile and the right words saved her life.

How to Annoy a Pregnant Woman

As everyone knows, the act of getting yourself pregnant is all fun and games.  It was for me, but that’s a story for another day.

I went into the whole pregnancy thing expecting to have morning sickness for 2 or 3 months, to feel like a beached whale, and to give birth the natural way within a few days of my projected due date.

Boy, was I in for a shock.  I had morning sickness from what seemed like the day I conceived both kids to the day they were born.  With my first pregnancy, everything started off all hunky-dory.  I got the usual morning sickness, all the usual first-trimester symptoms- the stuff I expected to have.  What I didn’t really expect was to start developing issues with different foods and smells.  That is to say, it got to the point where virtually every smell I encountered was enough to make me gag, and the only foods I could eat were pepperoni sticks, Ensure shakes, and rice or potatoes that had been drowned in Hoi Sin sauce. Ggaining weight got to be kind of tricky.

Then, there were the boobs.  Now, I’m not exactly on the small side to begin with, but almost as soon as I got pregnant, those things got freakishly huge.  I felt like I had a pair of balloons stuck on the front of me.  The real problem was, they were also very sore.  I felt like wrapping them each in packing paper, duct-taping a box over my chest and cramming Styrofoam esses in there, just to keep those suckers from moving around, or… you know… even being breathed on.

As soon as I started looking even vaguely pregnant, it was as though I sent out some kind of telepathic cue to every well-meaning belly rubber within a 10,000 km radius.  Suddenly, everybody wanted to rub my belly.  There was no respect for personal space, no sir! It didn’t matter if they were close family, or a complete stranger; it was kind of creepy, really. It was basically like I’d morphed into some kind of good luck Buddha statue, or one of those little troll dolls that were so popular in the ’90s. Every 5 minutes, it seemed like someone wanted to rub my growing bump, or ask me about the baby. I, for the most part, accepted it gracefully.  There were a few times, however, that I really had to restrain myself from going completely hormonal on those people.

05They asked whether I knew the gender yet, if I had any names picked out, what schools I wanted to send the baby to, and what my career plans for it were.  They came out of the woodwork with advice on what to do, what not to do, and how to catapult my child from one end of life to the other.  If I’d listened to everything, I would have either become a paranoid parent, or I would have had the strong urge to punch the next do-gooder who told me that bottle feeding was the root of all evil.

For the first half of each of my pregnancies, I happily answered all those questions, and listened to all that advice, as politely as I could.  I do try to be a nice person, after all.  For the last half of my pregnancies, since I felt bloated, uncomfortable and hormonal, however… I was not so nice.

Downright cruel sometimes, even.

On one particular day, I was about 8 months pregnant with my daughter.  Summer had taken hold, and it was a particularly hot day. I’d just gotten on the bus to go home, having been downtown running some errands that morning.  I was feeling ill, sweaty, uncomfortable, and generally bad-tempered, and I was about an inch away from bringing all that out on the next person unfortunate enough to speak to me.

It happened to be a little old lady. She sat in the empty seat next to me, smiling in that particular way that let me know what was going to come out of her mouth next. She leaned over to me a little, with a polite smile on her face, her floral perfume nearly making me gag.

“How far along are you?” she asked.

I could have just told her I was 8 and half months on, but that would have been the level-headed thing to do. I was feeling anything but level headed.

“I’m not pregnant,” I blurted out. “I’m just overweight.” I even managed to look close to tears. It was a pretty Oscar-worthy performance, actually.

For someone so small and frail-looking, she back-pedaled pretty quickly. A stream of apologies spewed from her mouth, and I’m pretty sure she turned a brighter red than her lipstick. I left her groping for something to say, as I got off the bus.

Normal Me would have smiled indulgently and answered nicely. Pregnant Me, however, figured it was perfectly O.K to behave like I had a particularly nasty case of PMS.

My partner came into the bedroom to ask me what was wrong; after I got home, I slammed the door, and hurled myself onto the bed to bawl my eyes out. I still can’t remember what I managed to choke out between sobs, but he tells me it was something about whales, old ladies, stupid buses, and perfume. Since he didn’t really understand what I was saying, he did what any sane person with a pregnant and hormonal partner would do: he backed away and ran to get the chocolate.

The Stop Button

I have two young kids- a little boy, aged 3, and a little girl who is 5. My partner has threatened to withhold the chocolate if I use their real names, so I’ll call them Jack and Jill for the sake of this blog. Trust me, making sure I have chocolate is really best for everyone.

Besides being kids, and full of all the beans that come with being a small child, Jack and Jill are both high-functioning Autistic. Like many of those on the Autism Spectrum, my kids have things that they are absolutely obsessive about. Jack, for example, is obsessed with buttons- especially those “stop” buttons that you find on the bottoms of those chairs at the front of a public transit bus. You know the ones- they flip up to make space for strollers and wheelchairs.

Some of those buttons practically beg to be pushed. It’s as if they are purposely made brightly coloured and obnoxious enough to make obsessive kids want to push them… constantly. When you’re a little boy with a serious fixation, and your stroller is beside the biggest and brightest stop button that even your Mommy has ever seen, resisting the desire to push it is damned near impossible.

milovanderlinden_Nice_orange_glowy_buttonThe “button” in question is really more like a wall plaque. It’s about half a foot long by 3 inches tall, and is brilliant yellow with blue writing on it. There’s a blue wheelchair symbol on it.

After fighting to get Jack and Jill onto the bus one particular day, I paid my fare and looked around for a decent spot. To my horror, I saw there were buttons everywhere. My son was in his element. I swear I heard him giggle just then.
There was no other option- I pretty much had to take the nearest available spot. It wasn’t ideal; there were buttons everywhere! But, what can one frazzled pre-caffeinated mom do? I pushed the stroller up to the spot, flipped up all the chairs to make space for Jack, and… there it was:

The Stop Button.

It sat there, attached to the underside of the plastic chair, all brilliant yellow and beckoning. Instead of “Push Here to Stop Bus”, the glaring blue print might have read “Push Here to Annoy Mom”.

If ever a button begged to be pushed, it was this one- especially if you are a little boy with a serious fixation, and your stroller comes tantalizingly close to what it possibly the biggest and brightest stop button known to mankind.
I locked the wheels on Jack’s rolling chariot, sat Jill down on a seat that faced her brother, and plunked myself down next to her.

I looked at the button. I looked at Jack. As a mom, there’s a certain expression that my face gets whenever I know my kids are about to wreak havoc on my sanity. Lips tight, single eyebrow raised… you know the one. It’s the look that says:

“Don’t even think about it.”

My son has his own look, which I’m fairly sure he only pulls out when I’m about to tell him off for something. It’s a devilish little smile, with a glint in his big grey eyes, that says:

“Game on.”

With one hand on Jill’s shoulder as she snuggled up to me, and the other hand tightly grasping the first in what would be a long line of coffees that day, I didn’t have enough hands for the little boy whose hands are faster than mine anyway.

There isn’t enough time in the morning, between leaving home and getting to school, for the bus to pull into every single stop because my son just can’t keep his hands to himself. It’s like he’s possessed, whenever a button enters the equation. He can’t help himself. Some way, somehow, he will push that button. I tried grabbing his hand and holding it. I tried grabbing both hands. I tried grabbing both hands AND putting my leg up across my daughter’s lap (while managing to position my ankle in front of The Stop Button).

Jack sneaked his little leg out from under the stroller’s front tray and pressed the damned button with his foot. The look that came over my face when I realised I’d just been outwitted by a 3 year old was this one:

“Well, son of a bitch…”