Child Rearin'

Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Richard Black

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Parenting From the Toilet

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I don’t speak German but I feel comfortable saying that this guy has it all figured out.

This afternoon I found myself…well for propriety’s sake let’s say that I found myself unavoidably detained. I was  in the bathroom seriously reconsidering my New Year’s resolutions when something disturbing occurred.

I’d spent the bulk of the morning taking down Christmas which is a task I find only moderately less irritating than decorating the house for Christmas. I swept up a few billion pine needles, continued cleaning vomit off of our bed linens and took the next four hours in the sublimely pointless and OCD compelled task of putting tiny little Christmas lights into tiny little boxes. I even managed to eat a salad which doesn’t sound all that ominous but it was that very act that spun the rest of the day rapidly out of control.

Once the afternoon rolled around I picked my daughter Darcy up from school. Instead of playing with the other children and chatting up their mothers however I attempted to shepherd my daughter back home. I claimed it was the cold weather but in reality it was an ill advised New Year’s resolution in the form of the aforementioned salad I’d eaten for lunch.

For the few brief moments I watched my daughter play with her friends in the schoolyard the salad began making its presence known. It began as a slight tweak in my duodenum before quickly moving into a series of gut wrenching cramps that imply the sort of catastrophic  event that levels mountains and leaves nothing but a smoldering crater in its wake.

This is the problem with healthy eating.

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The best intentions of man…

More specifically this is the problem of a New’s Years resolution to embark upon a healthier diet after years of consuming large amounts of things that are not in any way nutritional or even remotely healthy. After two decades of dedicated drinking and a steady diet of chicken wings it turns out that the bacteria in my bowels have lost the ability to digest vegetables. Instead of processing them in a regular fashion they tend to treat fresh produce the way engineers in the old Soviet Republic tended to nuclear waste (I don’t care where it came from JUST GET IT OUT OF HERE NOW!!!)

I excused myself somewhat hurriedly from the school and all but threw Darcy into her car seat before racing six blocks home at something slightly less than the speed of sound. I’d prepped Darcy for what was about to occur (daddy is going to stop the car once we get home and he’ll have just enough time to get you out of your car seat before he has to run inside) and she thoughtfully responded by falling asleep.

It was in this way, with my daughter in a fireman’s carry and a sphincter under extreme duress, that I entered my home at a dead sprint. I imagine that I deposited my daughter somewhere in the foyer but I really couldn’t be sure. What I do remember, quite vividly, is attempting to launch myself at a toilet ass first while simultaneously unbuckling my belt, unzipping my fly and shucking my jeans in one contorted yet oddly graceful maneuver.

I spent the next five minutes doubled over in the most remarkable pain I have ever known. Darcy, presumably woken by the sound of what I can only describe as something like small arms fire rose from her slumber and chose that particular moment to keep me company.

My daughter never loves me or needs my attention more than when I’m on the toilet. The moment I sit down some force compels her to stop whatever she’s doing and check in on her old man and this particular event was no different.

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I’m just going to leave this here.

To complicate matters (and despite my thorough cleansing of the house from all things Christmas) Darcy had managed to find a wire ornament hook. She was pretty thrilled with the way she could spin it back and forth between her thumb and index finger and I’d spent ten minutes or so nodding and congratulating her on the accomplishment as operation “Exit Salad” was in progress.

“That’s really neat sweetie,” I said before muffling a small scream as I passed a few pounds of spinach and what felt like a kidney stone or two.

“Daddy you’re not paying attention,” she replied.

“I’m sorry honey daddy is…just a bit distracted right now,” I said, “maybe you should go watch TV in the living room while…OHHHHH DEAR GOD…I finish up in here.”

“I can wait daddy,” she answered with the sublime intransigence of a small child.

“Then you better turn on the fan…SWEET BABY JESUS…and maybe remind daddy to have your nose checked.”

I’m not sure what happened next. I may have blacked out but, then again, I might have just been trying to find a happy place while passing something the size of a towel rack though my intestines. An audible “pop” took place, a bright flash announced a tripped circuit and quite suddenly my daughter’s boredom and my intestinal plight were solved in one fell swoop.

During the few seconds I was…distracted Darcy had chosen to plunge the aforementioned wire into the dimmer switch in the bathroom. Once the lights shorted out Darcy’s face registered a look of abject horror that mimicked my own. We both stared at each other waiting for the other to act when one of us, I won’t say whom, broke down in sobs. It’s not easy to comfort a child when one is sitting on a toilet and it’s an even more challenging proposition to appear to be stern. Some people might be able to manage the act but I’m not one of them.

I consoled my daughter as best as I could. Once she’d calmed down I plunked her down in front of the television with a bowl of cereal (Daddy can I have strawberries and bananas in it? Of course you can sweetie. Here some M&Ms would probably go well with those Fruit Loops. Oreos would probably be a nice accompaniment. Let’s just try to remember not to tell mommy about what happened. Ohh you’d like some gummy bears. Here have some jelly beans too.) I took stock on the situation and my abilities as a parent.

My daughter bears a fair share of the blame but she’s five and children, particularly young children, are morons. Sure they’re cute and inquisitive but at their core they’re about as bright as a fence post.

The majority of the blame however lies with me and by me I mean my decision to eat a salad for lunch. Without the salad I never would have passed out on the toilet and if I never would have passed out on the toilet I would have been able to stop my daughter from ramming a piece of wire into an electrical fixture.

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The lemming. One of the few mammals with survival instincts on par with those of small children. Note the beady eyes and stance bent upon the singular purpose of self destruction.

Then again I could have been entirely aware and Darcy could have chosen to do something else that was just as dangerous as her tryst with electricity. The fact is that keeping kids safe is pretty much an effort in futility. Until they’re well into their twenties children have the survival instincts of a herd of horny lemmings. It’s really a testament to their resilience that so many of them survive to adulthood.

I’m not a great parent but I’m pretty sure I’m not the worst. Jeffrey Dahmer had a mom. I’m pretty sure he had a dad too. Hitler, if memory serves, also had parents and while I’m pretty sure Darcy won’t end up eating human flesh or embark upon a genocidal reign of terror there are times when I think that’s the most optimistic I can be about my daughter’s prospects.

Until Darcy turns 18 and I’m not legally obligated to do so I plan on doing my best to keep her safe. For starters I’m not going to be eating any salads for the foreseeable future. My health, after all, is a small sacrifice to make for the sake of my daughter’s well being. It’s really the least I can do. My only hope is that one day she’ll appreciate what I’ve forfeited for her safety and return the favor by caring for me after the quadruple bypass I plan on having shortly after she becomes engaged.

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