Yesterday was memorable. I’m looking after my nephew for a few days while my sister-in-law has to take a business trip to New Orleans. He’s a month younger than my two-year-old daughter, JB — let’s call him PB. She drops him off, frazzled and hurried, and I look at these three picky eaters and think, Right, let’s go out to eat.
So we have lunch, the kids have all taken a turn in the restrooms, and as I’m pulling away from the restaurant, my sister-in-law calls. She’s left something important in the house, and her flight takes off in about two hours — could I …?
So I’m pulling into her driveway, and I peel back the sun roof, and yes, I plan to leave the kids in the car as I jet in and get the stuff, and I see there’s a pair of landscaping guys right over there eyeing us, and I’m praying they don’t turn me in to Child Services. Stay right here, kids; I’ll be back before you blink. And as I run up to her front door, Biggie pops his head up out of the sun roof and yells, “JB needs to go to the bathroom!” And as I get her door open, I hear him yelling again, “And so does PB!”
So I’m back in the car with the stuff, and I’m fiddling with the navigation–which, for some reason, can’t find the airport itself, just the long-term parking lots–and I’m trying to keep my voice level as I explain to my son why we don’t have time to take the toddlers in to the bathroom, and I keep hearing sirens, as one is wont to do in such situations. Meanwhile, my daughter is grunting like a power lifter in her car seat, her face gradually turning purple.
I successfully make the hand-off. JB has become eerily silent. My son has also shut up. Think, think, think. Aha, I know there’s a library near here. We’ll take a long break there.
We’re at the library. The children’s librarian recognizes me, and says hi. I tell Biggie to look after PB in the kids’ section while I take JB to the bathroom. Great — the bathroom has changing table as well as a nice, large, relatively clean stall nearby. The bathroom is small, so everything is within reach, and I have it all to myself. I can handle this. But JB is starting to sob and whimper; though I put her in a pull-up, she’s potty-trained, and she doesn’t like that she’s taken a dump in her pants. And, apparently, she’s not yet finished.
It’s a delicate operation, but I managed to take off her pull-up without poo tumbling out, and she managed to squeeze a few more on the toilet, and she’s now wiped down with a fresh new pull-up. One down.
I take her back into the kids’ area where my son still has his head buried in his comic book — oh, sorry, graphic novel — and I trade out JB for PB. I try not to think about what exactly is behind the affect of the librarian. Was she… distracted? forlorn? upset? alarmed? I try not to think about it.
JB is small for her age, but PB has some heft, and so I hoist him up onto the changing table to see what we’ve got. You can really tell the difference when you’re changing them; PB is a full size larger than JB. Lots more surface area. Hey, it looks like maybe we have a false alarm here. Perhaps he was just sympathizing with JB and chimed in for good measure. Maybe I just tape him back up… what the heck, I brought in a diaper for him, why don’t I just use it? So I freshen him up, and lead him back. The librarian looks more at ease.
Except not ten minutes goes by when PB looks distracted and distraught. Moms, dads, you know the look. I step over, and I smell it. So now I have him under my arm, and I’m speed-walking back to the bathroom.
JB has constant problems with constipation, but it seems PB often goes the other way. Five or six baby wipes, at least. At least. Thankfully nothing leaked out. Ah, but I just used his spare diaper. Why did I just take one? Well, shit.
So I fish out his diaper from before from the garbage. Yes, I did. I feel like my hands are getting raw from all the hand-washing.
As I walk PB back, I see JB shifting like a penguin, the corners of her eyes moist. I glance up, and I think the librarian is trying to avoid eye contact. My son is chortling at Garfield.
So, yeah, I had to change another diaper. Another diaper full of poo. Thankfully, I have plenty of pull-ups for JB. When I get back, the librarian is gone. I don’t know if I had it in me to talk to her anyway. I’m just glad I had a moment to get my bearings after that carousel of horror.
Looking forward to today.