There is one constant theme that dogs every mum and dad from the moment they discover they will become a parent. As soon as they tell someone that they will be joining the ranks of parenthood one subject is always brought up – poop.
Comments about being ‘knee deep in dirty nappies’, wiping poopy bums etc begin almost before the pee has dried on the stick. And they don’t dissipate from what I can tell, nearly three years on and approximately 13,140 soiled wipes later (yes I did just do some quick maths to work out roughly how many I’ve skinned and binned*).
It is generally accepted that the business end of parenting is one of the worst parts of it. But there’s something they don’t tell you. When those experienced parents are enjoying your tale of poop under your fingernail they are suppressing a little snigger because, actually, they know things will get worse.
For as bad as nappy changing is, it is nothing next to the joy that is potty training.
Taking a deep breath, opening a nappy, blindly wiping as your eyes sting and then launching the offending item into a concrete and lead-lined box is easy compared to the potty training. In the world of potty training the stabilisers are off and every mistake has a price.
There’s nothing worse than having to scrape poop off a pair of Monsters Inc knickers first thing in the morning – it ruins your enjoyment of your bacon butty (I say this knowing that I shall be writing of a worse fate in years, or more likely months to come).
This is the frontline of parenting. Quite literally where you have to put up with the most amazing shit.
But it’s not just getting your hands dirty. With potty training comes a new form of child power – the toilet demand. Suddenly the balance of power has shifted so dramatically that you wonder what kind of vengeful yet benevolent being would do such a thing? Because now, you are a complete hostage to one phrase – ‘peepee coming’.
Once those words are uttered you are compelled to comply because you know the consequences if you don’t. Now, I’m fond of a flutter, but the truth is in this game you can’t win. Either you capitulate and take the toilet trip or you live with the warm soggy fate that will surely follow if you do not.
This particular parenting dynamic is no more lethal than at bedtime where it has found a permanent home in Belle’s bedtime stalling routine.
That said, there’s nothing more frustrating than when you, I don’t know say are about to join the motorway and your daughter says she needs the toilet. You about turn, drive at pace back home only to discover it was a false alarm. I wonder sometimes if she is taking the peep when she doesn’t take a peep.
For all the stress drama and scrubbing under finger nails that this brings though it has to be said it is a rewarding stage of development – and I don’t just mean the potential cash saving in buying boxes of nappies as frequently as milk. Being by Belle’s side while she goes on this particular part of her journey is quite emotional. She is very quickly becoming a little person as opposed to my little baby.
It’s another key stage in her development that reminds me how quickly she is changing and growing. I know despite having to put up with all this dirty work, I’ll look back at this stage with fond memories. For now though, I’m just hoping it is a very brief stage and my time scooping poop is short.
*For those keen for detail I estimated four wipes per nappy change (conservative to be honest) and then assumed an average of three per day for almost three years. In truth it’s likely that even more trees than that have been felled to keep my daughter’s botty clean, but you know, shit happens.