Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Actions Cause Reactions

A definite plus side to the holidays is that long-lost friends return home from far away, which means that I get to see them without ever having to pack a bag or step on a plane. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to spend some time with my all-time favorite babysitter who is in town visiting her family. Well, technically she has her own family now, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, after having three of my own, I can officially say that I am not a baby person anymore. Give me gross motor skills, the ability to hold down a meal for more than ten minutes and some bowel control. But having said that, her kids are so, so cute! The baby wouldn't stop smiling - even when he was spitting up - and Zoe was ecstatic about the fact that she found another little kid in the form of two-year-old Abe that liked to crawl around on all fours and bark like a rabid dog. Mandi is a great mom who has already displayed amazing potty training skills, handles hurl with the best of them and - because she's nursing - is willing to drink her cranberry and tonic without vodka. Obviously, the qualities that made her a kick ass babysitter are also making her a kick ass mom.

While I was sitting there sucking down booze with her mom and ripping on the neighbors, the baby made "the face" and "the noise" and that's when Mandi's mom said "Oh Joel, are you filling your pants? I thought I heard something!" I kind of started to laugh, but in my head I was way in hell am I offering to change that kid's diaper. I know! I'm a horrible friend! I mean, how much shit has this poor girl scraped off of my kids in the past!? And here she is, visiting from out of town, and I don't step in for one crap-filled diaper?

Luckily, I don't think Mandi was overly disappointed that I didn't leap into the air and jump at the opportunity to change a butt. But just in case, as she was leaning down to grab the wipes off of the floor with one hand and her slightly fragrant child with the other hand, I said "I'd do it for you, but I'm pretty sure I've forgotten how to change diapers. Sorry." She just laughed a little before reminding me that I hadn't forgotten because I'd recently changed my niece's diaper. I was shocked! How did she know about that? And then she reminded me again...I wrote about it.

(originally posted on June 4, 2010)

My new niece, Bianca, is adorable. Seriously guys, she is so cute. And the most amazing thing to me is that when I'm around her, I actually offer to change her diapers. You'd think that after spending hundreds of hours wiping poop off of someone else's ass I would have allowed myself to drop that skill from my repertoire, but no, I can still change a butt in record speed.

One thing I did forget, though, is that sometimes when the diaper comes off and you pull the kid's feet up to stick the new diaper under their butt, the kid sometimes takes that as an opportunity to do an impression of a bottle of French's mustard. You know, the mustard that is half-clogged so you squeeze really hard to get it to come out, and then the clog dislodges mid-squeeze.

I recently read an article outlining how my life can be happier and more positive if I practiced acceptance of certain situations rather than judgmental observation. Apparently the way a person typically processes daily life experiences, which in this case was shit being squirted across a room, can be broken down into five steps, and it's how a person reacts to these five steps that determines the resulting emotions.

1. Movement: First, something happens in our lives - a tiny incident, a big event, someone's passing comment, or a nearly imperceptible change in the environment. I have to be honest and say that a stream of shit is not exactly a tiny incident and is a fairly big event. Zoe's passing comment was "Oh my gosh, mom! What is all over your shorts? Is that poop? GROSS! HAHAHAHAHA!" And that imperceptible change in the environment was odor, and it was actually pretty perceptible.

2. Sensation: In response to that movement, we feel something physically - a twinge of pain, a flood of heat or cold, a clenching or emptiness in our body, a vibration or fluctuation we can't name. I felt a twinge of nausea, a trickle of poop running down my leg, and a light sweaty film forming on my forehead as I quickly surveyed the damage on the changing table. As far as the feelings of emptiness, I'm sure that was Bianca's bowels.

3. Thought: Then we consciously or unconsciously identify the sensation and assign some kind of reason or meaning or value to it. I very consciously identified the sensation as "disgusting" and I guess the only meaning I could come up with was that Bianca somehow knew I was a seasoned veteran when it came to diaper changing so she figured it was a good time to open the gates on her large intestine because I wouldn't panic, unlike my brother who has only been dealing with fecal matter for a couple weeks. I don't think there was any value to assign, except maybe the value of the dozens of wipes I ended up using.

4. Emotional Reaction: Next we experience a flash of a certain feeling or a combination of them - grief, fear, anger, irritation, shame, nervousness, hurt, desire, relief and so on. In addition to a little bit of panic (I really didn't want poop stains on my white shorts), I actually experienced laughter, because throughout this whole ordeal all Zoe was worried about was whether she could drag the Sit 'N Spin out of Bianca's closet. I don't know if you remember, but I tried to get rid of that space hog at Goodwill a few months ago and they wouldn't take it, so I pawned it off on my brother. So while I was wiping up his kid's splattered crap, I couldn't help but envision my brother in a couple years, constantly tripping over that thing and eventually trying to drop it off at Goodwill.

5. Behavior: Finally, we take some kind of action or reaction, verbally, physically or attitudinally - either to stop the feeling, escape it, or to do something else about it. I told Bianca that it was okay she sprayed her Auntie with poop, carried her cleaned-up and newly-outfitted self downstairs, handed her to my brother, changed my shorts, made a drink and realized that being an aunt kicks ass.

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