Parenting has a dirty side. Sure, there’s dirt, mud, and spaghetti sauce on the wall. There are messes around the house, bathwater over splash, and marker on little faces. But, what I’m talking about is the darkness to the dirty side of parenting. A side so unpleasant it’s simply not discussed.
Here are the ten dirtiest things I’ve had to do as a parent:
1. Examine poop. You get one kid with a milk protein allergy and suddenly every poop, from every kid, becomes a full on C.S.I. Investigation.
Blood? Nope, that’s gum. Guess it doesn’t take seven years to digest. Only 48 hours.
Blood? Maybe, but she did have spaghetti. Blood? Hmmm…looks like crayon wax to me.
My husband draws the line at using tweezers or chopsticks to move stuff apart for a closer look. My only option left is to save the diaper contents and take them to her doctor for further testing. Just to be safe. Oh, and I guess I’m not supposed to examine diaper poop in the kitchen.
2. Sift through vomit with my fingers. Once I swore I saw traces of dark brown blood in my toddler’s throw up. In an effort to determine if it was actually blood, I sifted through her sticky throw up with my nose all but in it looking for any trace of bright red. Turns out it was chocolate from a stale M&M.
3. Call Poison Control, more than once. The first time was when someone sucked on an Air Wick scented oil air freshener. Why? Well, why do toddlers do what they do? Her breath smelled like Hawaiian Kaloko-Honokohau Tropical Sunset for hours. After I knew she was okay, and the threat of danger had passed, I just rotated her play through various rooms of the house until the place smelled good.
4. Pick someone else’s nose to fish out a really long booger. Then frantically google it to make sure it’s not a tapeworm. I’ve seen what looks like a small smear right in the corner of a nostril that has turned into yards upon yards of pure unadulterated booger.
5. Pull part of a grape skin out of someone’s butt. Not much elaboration is needed on this one.
6. Clean 80% of poop off a crib surface. 15% off feet and toes. 5% off mouth. I don’t know if this happens to every household in the United States or its Minor Outlying Islands, but it happened in ours. Thankfully just the one time.
7. Smell throw-up. Because when poison control wants to know why the vomit is blue, you have to be able to tell them if it does in fact smell like toothpaste. By making the phone call in the first place, you’re already telling the nurse that you weren’t watching your child. So, at this point, it’s all about saving what little reputation you have left. “Yes, I admit I wasn’t watching my child. Yes, I will do whatever it takes to make this right. Please don’t make me taste it.”
8. Use my clothing and pockets to wipe, clean, or otherwise store boogers and snot. This happens every time I choose not to bring the diaper bag. Every. Single. Time. Even if no one has a cold, someone suddenly comes down with a runny nose. That leaves few options:
Shirt Jeans Socks At least jeans have pockets where things can be hidden.
9. Be the example my child needs to see what exactly we do on the potty. Most of the time, using the toilet isn’t a good ice breaker for most folks. At least I’ve never made—or kept—friends that way. But toddlers are down with potting. They get into it and will even clap like they’re at a bluegrass musical festival.
10. Clean someone else’s vomit out of my mouth. My toddler once projectile vomited in my face. She couldn’t have gotten a better shot if she had she spent weeks practicing for that very moment. caught off guard—because really, how often are we prepared for something like this—I stood motionless while I watched my glasses fog up. I did have my lips closed, but let’s be honest here, lips aren’t water tight.
As unpleasant as these things might be, they have to be dealt with. After all, there’s not much a 18-month-old can do about puking on the carpet. Except play in it because hey, what is this stuff? As a parent, I’ve become an expert in my children’s eliminations. Not exactly a relevant skill for most jobs today, at least none that I know of. Maybe one day I’ll make a great C.S.I. Agent. At least when it comes to gum in poop. Oh, and finding hidden grape skins.
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