Monday, May 28, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just when you thought it was safe

Long ago, I shared a riveting tale of fear, horror, and disgust. It was a tale about a diaper blow-out, told from the perspective of a new parent. Years later, I have grown jaded. Many diapers I have changed. I’ve waded through pools of vomit, wiped a swamp’s worth of runny noses, and smelled odors that would wilt a rose garden. Just when I start to get complacent and think, “Is that all you’ve got?”, the baby comes something new and diabolical.

One night after dinner…

The baby stands at the edge of the bathtub, transfixed by the rushing water from the faucet and the growing piles of bubbles. A small smile crosses his face; a face crusted with banana slime and cheerio crumbs. With one sticky little hand, he reaches into the flowing water causing a wild spraying. He ignores the admonishing tone from “dee dee” and giggles. It’s bath time.

He is plunked down into the warm water, and the tension of the stressful day melts away. All that worry over lost pacifiers and over toys snatched away by big brother dissipates into the sudsy water. Even the aches and pains from stumbles onto the tile floor and from head bonks on the coffee table begin to recede. This is good. And that crinkly, scratchy, and suffocating diaper is off. Sweet, sweet freedom.
The calm before "the incident"

Amid the splashing, babbling, and cup pouring, there is an ominous twinge in his belly. He pays it no mind and continues pouring water onto his big brother. Forces within him begin an inexorable chain of events. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

The bathtub grows eerily silent for a moment as the baby grows still, too still. Big brother and dad notice nothing amiss. Then there is…something…beneath the surface of the water. What is that? Big brother peers intently into the murky water to get a better look.  A sudden scream rings out, “Owen pooped!”

The father gapes at the scene for a moment, transfixed. The circuit breakers in his head have tripped. “Oh, jeeze. Oh no. Oh no. Owen. Why? Why? You just had a diaper on? No. Don’t touch it. No. Urgk. Let’s go. Everyone into the shower.”

Owen and big brother head into the shower for the decontamination protocol. Dad steels himself and begins the recovery and restoration effort on the besmirched bathtub. Accompanied by the sound of laughing children (they are resilient) echoing out of the shower, he methodically attacks the mess. It’s just another day with children, and he’s seen things, man.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We miss you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


UPS talks about logistics in commercials. I work with operations folks at Dell, and we struggle over operational challenges that span the globe and swing a hundred million dollars, give or take. I've got Excel spreadsheets full of enough financial minutiae to bore the pants off of several dozen cocktail parties.

None of that compares to the exhausting complexity of getting a 3 and 1 year-old dressed, fed, and strapped into the car for "school" each weekday morning. Every morning is a frenzied blur in which I sweat, cajole, and hustle until I get to work, at which point I can finally relax. How is it possible that I wake up at 6:15 and get to work at 8:45 after a 15 minute commute?

Let me put on my aggrieved, complaining parent hat (which I know to be one of the most tiresome characters in all of blogdom) and recall some greatest hits of the morning logistics:
  • The toddler that refuses to wake up because he spent all night sneaking out of his room and fabricating increasingly bizarre demands. What started out as a need for water morphs into a request to re-curate the framed art in his room.
  • How about the baby who has the most regular bowel movements on the planet?  He can consistently drop a bomb on me right at that precious moment when I'm finally making that move toward the car to leave for work. It's like Murphy's Law is wired directly into his digestive tract.
  • Let's also consider that the boys know when I have the presenter role for an 8 a.m. meeting at the office. On these mornings, they summon up every ounce of needy histrionics to prevent me from cruelly abandoning them at the apparently horrific hellhole that is their day care. Their group of friends and bowl of sugary cereal that they would never get at home is too much to bear, and any attempt to leave will be met by leg-grabbing, wailing, and my recall of that "Cat's in the Cradle" song.
  • Did you know that some toddlers will employ a sippy cup in a manner inconsistent with drinking?
  • You ever tried to find two sets of matching shoes and socks that were previously worn by the random chaos generators that are young children? Of course one of the crocs would be buried in the couch, and the other one would be submerged in the dog's water. It makes perfect sense. 
The saving grace is that my finance team is staffed with parents of similarly aged logistical challenges. When I blitz into work at 8:45 with a sheen of sweat on my brow and a thousand-yard stare, I see naught but understanding expressions. I am comforted by the fact that none of the intricate financial processes that I work through today will compare to the goat rodeo that I just faced at home.