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I think my kid is trying to break me.

January 13, 2014

I knew it was a Code Yellow as soon as I unzipped Asher’s pajamas. The onesie underneath was soaked in pee, the diaper below an immense bulge. Peeling back the wet onesie, I saw the urine-saturated globbies emanating from the burst diaper, filling his belly button and cascading down his sides. (I’m declaring “globbies” a word. As a tech writer, I’m licensed to do that.) Globbies are the absorbent material inside diapers, and they behave quite nicely when they remain there. But once escaped, they have the troubling tendency to stick only to the things you don’t want them to—skin, clothing, bedding, flooring….and not to the things you want them to (i.e., whatever you are using to wipe them up). Plus, they smell like super-concentrated urine. So, even before he had consumed the warm milk sitting on his nightstand, Asher earned his first bath of the day.

Things were looking up until the solids part of the breakfast. (Does anyone else take issue with calling baby food “solids?” There’s something unsavory about that term.) Sitting in his high chair, Asher unmistakably made The Poo Face. Redness, breathlessness, tensed muscles, and raised eyebrows.  I routinely hauled him back to the changing table, where I relearned an old lesson: Never let your kid poop in a sitting position. All of the poop had gone up his back, and much of it had exited the diaper. I resigned myself to another bath for my boy, and rolled the poopy portion of onesie up inside itself. I shifted the boy onto his side so I could wipe his back, and that’s when he made his move. The potted plant next to his changing table (long dead, I must admit) had tantalized him all his life. He had peed on it many times (not enough times to keep it watered, poor thing) and reached for it many more. With me preoccupied, he grabbed the lip of the pot and swiftly tugged it off the shelf. I saw before I could react, and was sure it would smash. It amazed me by remaining intact, but my relief was brief as the pot rolled all the way across the room, spewing dirt from both ends the whole way. I froze in horror. Asher gazed up at me as if to say, “Did really do that?”

“Yes, Asher, you did a bad thing,” I said. “That was very, very naughty!” Thus reanimated, I slid Asher to the floor and began undressing him. It was a trick to slide several layers over his head at once, and he became stuck. Still fixated on the sheer volume of dirt on the floor, I shook the clothes to get them off. Little bits of poop peppered my feet and the floor surrounding them. Bad, bad idea, Shayla, I thought. This whole day was a bad idea.

Can you spot the poop?

Can you spot the poop?

Once Asher was naked and my feet were passably de-fecalized, I plopped him in the empty tub. He wasted no time in peeing on my shampoo bottle and subsequently falling flat on his head. I rinsed the tub, comforted the boy, placed the safety mat, and ran the water. And broke one of my cardinal rules. I’m normally quite strict about remaining in the room with Asher while he’s in the bath, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I trusted him not to drown. How much trouble could he get into with me in the next room, just 10 feet away?

I’m not really sure how that pot held that much dirt. Perhaps it was made in the same place as Mary Poppins’s purse. But it required a lot of sweeping, and it wasn’t until I had dragged the broom through poo crumbs that I realized I had overlooked some fecal matter. I would have to mop too.

When Asher’s room was cleared of debris, I returned to sanitize him. Gobs of toilet paper and hair floated in the tub, extracted from the adjacent garbage. I was beyond caring at that point, and scooped the more sizable floaties back into the trash. I managed to wash, rinse, and dry him without further incident, and thanked the powers that be for naptime.


I was sure the day would be redeemed by a date that night with Ragnar. Technically it was a “family date,” as Asher was (and always is) included. But I was excited just to get out and have an excuse to look pretty, to see something outside my familiar circuit of home-church-grocery store. Ragnar had a class downtown for his master’s program that got out at six o’clock, and I was to meet him nearby for dinner at a restaurant of my choosing. Naturally, I picked a sushi restaurant. I gave no more thought to my choice than to select food that I liked at a (comparatively) reasonable price at a location within walking distance from Ragnar’s campus. (And they had a gluten-free menu for Ragnar.) There was no fault to this line of thinking, except that it left out all consideration for Asher.

My first clue should have been that I had to park three (city!) blocks from the restaurant. That may not seem like a lot, but try carrying 25 wiggly pounds through a dark and unfamiliar urban area. I was relieved when I turned the corner to see Ragnar standing in front of Blue Sushi, waiting for us. My relief turned to disappointment as soon as we opened the door. Dozens of edgy 20- and 30-somethings crowded around tiny tables in the dim blue light. A cacophony of voices assaulted us, and I immediately knew that Ragnar and I would not be sharing leisurely conversation. I didn’t have to look around to know that there were no children in this restaurant. We were, at least, seated in a booth. I didn’t even bother to ask for a highchair. In the unlikely event that the restaurant had one, there would be nowhere to fit it between our table and the folks sitting 18 inches away.

Ragnar and I sandwiched Asher between us and speed ordered. Asher was entranced. I read the menu and very loudly exclaimed, “That’s terrible!”

Kids these days are SO cruel!

Kids these days are SO cruel!

Thankfully the restaurant was loud enough that no one was perturbed.

Our food came quickly, and Asher was eager to help us eat it. Ragnar is a man of many talents, and he somehow (with little help from me), managed to assemble and eat several lettuce wraps while simultaneously restraining and feeding Asher small bits of chicken. I inhaled my portion as quickly as possible and scarcely paused to consider how excellent it all was. I knew it would be my turn soon.

And so we bounced Asher back and forth between us in the booth, trying to keep him from grabbing any of the assortment of tiny plates and bowls that are somehow required for consuming Japanese food. I’m no good at juggling Asher while eating, and so the task mostly fell to Ragnar. At one point a man in a suit (I assume the manager) approached us and said, “Want me to hold onto the little guy for awhile while you enjoy your meal?”

I recognized it for the joke that it was and politely declined. But I wondered aloud to Ragnar, “What if we said yes?”

Eventually Asher became restless to the point of yelling, and I was again thankful for the high-decibel atmosphere. We tried feeding him bits of food on a plate, but he was immediately more interested in flipping the plate. A highchair, a highchair, my kingdom for a highchair I thought morosely.

Ragnar and I rigged up a system for feeding Asher Cheerios, which consisted of each of us sacrificing one hand to hold down a Cheerio-laden napkin, while simultaneously eating sushi with the other hand. That got him through until the check arrived.

Mourning my lost youth, I left the blue-lit restaurant for the orange glow of the city pavement outside. Surely I was younger than many of the diners behind me, but it was time to start considering a new criterion for my future restaurant selections: a family-friendly atmosphere. Suddenly it didn’t matter if I looked like a smokin’ 26-year-old. I needed roomy accommodations and a kids’ menu and a nice activity sheet with crayons. I felt old.


Because Ragnar had another round of college classes today, it fell to me to take Asher to church alone. I don’t understand why the meetings are so much more packed on Ward Conference Sunday, but I was pleased to find a seat in the pews, where I could theoretically contain Asher between the rows. Little did I know, I would later regret not sitting in the very, very back.

Asher was wild from the outset. It started with simply dropping everything in impossible-to-reach places that required my neighbors in all directions to stop, drop, and fetch. “Thank you!….Thank you!…Thank you!” I began to feel like a broken record. Soon it became a wrestling match to keep him in my lap, but as soon as I set him down he insisted on wandering out into the aisle. I compromised by holding his hand so he couldn’t stray far, but then felt guilty for causing such a distraction. I yanked him back and tried to occupy him with toys. He protested. The more conspicuous he made us, the more I slumped in my seat. Surely everyone must be watching us! I had never understood why mothers seemed so mortified at their children’s behavior in church. I had always been on the other end of it, and I had always been very understanding. But now I knew. All these people had come to hear the bishop and the stake president speak, and from what I heard of the talks, they were excellent. But my son was detracting from everyone else’s experience.

When Asher again dropped his pacifier, my rear neighbor returned it immediately and I muttered the perfunctory “Thank you.” I then recognized the woman sitting behind me—a member of the Stake Relief Society Presidency whose husband was currently on campus with my husband. I was relieved that someone in the congregation could commiserate with me, and a little mortified at not recognizing her before. I turned and muttered an awkward, “Hi!” before slumping back in my pew. It wasn’t the first time that the distractions of motherhood made me feel like a jerk.

I soon landed upon the ultimate Asher containment device: food. The little baggie of Cheerios from the night before came in handy, and I was starting to relax when, well, I relaxed a little too much. My hand slipped, and out spilled half the bag of Cheerios INTO THE AISLE. I was mortified, but half-a-dozen helpful hands soon dropped to the floor and helped me collect the hordes of honey-coated escapees. I tried to politely excuse them all, “Oh it’s okay, I can get them after!” I said unthinkingly. It seemed the polite thing to say. But of course there would be a stampede of people “after,” and so that was impossible. “Thank you!….Thank you!…Thank you!” I repeated. My ego was gone.

When at last we could find no more of the little devils, I sat upright and glanced back at my son. To my horror, he had emptied the other half of the bag onto the floor, and was wasting no time in double-fisting handfuls of Cheerios into his mouth. It was too much. Hot tears of humiliation sprang to my eyes before I could even think what to do.  I soon realized I must intercept those handfuls before he choked himself, and of course I was rewarded with an indignant cry. Again I was humbled when the little girl next to me—with absolutely no bidding—began collecting handfuls of spilled Cheerios and returning them to the bag.  “Thank you!….Thank you!…Thank you!” I tried to make myself useful while concealing my streaming eyes, but she picked up most of the Cheerios.

When the meeting finally ended, the woman behind me reassured me that she too felt alone and overburdened with her husband in school and working. She said just what I needed to hear, and I was so glad to hear her say, “Call me if you ever need to vent.”

Several people approached and told me just how cute Asher looked, and I replied, “It’s a good thing!” But really I was thinking, Looks can be deceiving. Nonetheless, I felt buoyed enough to attempt another hour of church. I sat by some very Asher-friendly friends, but it was no use. Despite the allure of string cheese, Asher ran from the front of the room (I held my breath when he approached the piano) to the back, and screeched every time I intercepted him. I wondered just how much he was detracting from the lesson by the Stake Presidency. But before long Asher relieved me of wondering by smacking his forehead into a table, and I dashed out of the room with him. I waited in the hall until class was over, supervising his play with a doorstop (fine by me) and an easel (not okay).

I gave up. Threw in the towel. It was a shame to miss Relief Society, particularly because it is my favorite meeting. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. In the amount of time it took me to return my unused scriptures to the library, I was gone.

Basically, I felt like this:
Image 2

Yeah, at least he’s cute.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    January 14, 2014 1:39 am

    I think I can spot the poop. It’s like the new “Where’s Waldo”.

    You should probably buy a new broom.

  2. Sarah permalink
    January 14, 2014 8:46 pm

    I have a feeling “he is the easiest baby” days are behind you. I’m so sorry!

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