Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Funniest Story Ever Written (by me)

The upcoming “Bye” week for the Steelers leaves a bit of a lull in my posting cycle. Then to make things worse, the following week, the Steelers play on Monday night so that makes 2 consecutive Sundays with no Pittsburgh football. Why, oh Football Gods, why??

Anyway, I’m taking advantage of this time to post a very special story.

I wrote this in 2006 and posted it on my old site, where it was read by approximately nobody. But in gauging the reaction from those I’ve sent the story to directly, this appears to be the Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Written. The fact that it still makes me laugh as I tweak it for re-posting bolsters that idea, although I admit that it could be just because it happened to me. Rest assured that no children were hurt during the course of this story. I, however, may have been scarred for life.

Times They Are A’Changin’

It all started when I read the chilling words in the email:

“Can you watch the boys this Saturday?”

My sister-in-law was asking me to baby-sit my 2 nephews at

their house in Catonsville while she and my brother went to Annapolis for a Navy football game, the Saturday before Labor Day. I’ve watched the 7-year old, Daniel, before and knew that he is no sweat and just a joy to watch. The new wrinkle was 11-month old baby Sam. I’ve never cared for a “baby” baby before.

Of course I would help them out… I would do anything for my brother and his family. I just hoped they knew what they were getting into… or at least what they were getting me into: my first confrontation with… cue the “Dragnet” music… a diaper full of ca-ca.

I’ve never changed a diaper before. In fact, I usually leave the room where it’s happening, and at minimum, avert my eyes and hold my breath. I immediately started thinking, “what would be a bigger mess, Sammy’s butt staying in a dirty diaper, or getting the dirty diaper in the trash but leaving hurl all over the floor?” What’s a Crazy Uncle to do?

You see, I know what this boy is capable of. Seven months earlier when we were all riding home from Pittsburgh, I was in the back seat with Daniel and Sammy when the baby dropped a major 5-alarm bomb. This was evil. It had a half-life. I mean, even people in other cars were giving us a wide berth. (Although I’ll allow that this may have been due to the sight of my contorted face pressed up against the glass.) My poor sister-in-law had to change him up in the front seat, in the dark, which must have been a real test.

Not that I’d know first hand, mind you, not the way I was sitting there with my leather coat over my head. What I should have done is cracked the window, put the sleeve out and tried breathing through the armhole. But anyway, what I’m saying is that I knew I had every right to be apprehensive. I’ve seen what kind of damage the boy can do. I’m thinking I’m going to need the full Mr. Mom Haz-Mat Suit.

I was in denial at first…

Maybe he won’t have to go,” I thought, “maybe it’s a night game, they’ll put him to bed and all I have to do watch movies with Daniel and keep the house from burning down.”

Then the other shoe dropped. They were leaving at 1:30, for a 5:00 game, and would be home afterwards. Well there was no denying it now. There would be poo.

The next thing I know, I’m barreling through the remaining 4 of the 5 famous stages of grief*:

  • Anger: How dare they make me do this? My dad never had to change a diaper…
  • Bargaining: If he can only just hold out until I’ve had dinner…
  • Depression: God, I hope this isn’t the high point of my holiday weekend…
  • Acceptance: An Uncle’s gotta do what he’s gotta do… OK, let there be poo…

So I sought advice wherever I could. One friend sent me a URL for a helpful, step-by-step guide to baby changing. I got other helpful hints from a former nanny I met at happy hour. I got sympathy from my male friends.

OK, I can do this.”

I got to the house at 12:30, and began my indoctrination. I learned how, and when, and what to feed the baby, where all the supplies were, the emergency phone numbers, (brother’s cell, pizza delivery place…) everything a prepared babysitter needs. Finally it was time for the Changing Lesson. My sister-in-law demonstrated with a dry run… Pick up the feet, off with the old, on with the new. Wide Velcro tabs in back, pouch in the front. Easy!

Yeah, I can do this.”

At 1:30, I bid them goodbye and off to Annapolis they went. Then I decided I should lay down the law with the boys.

“OK guys, rule Number One… No Pooping!”

I was very specific about this. Sammy gave me a wide-eyed look and a goofy smile, as if to say, “You’re new here, aren’t you?”

I don’t think he was buying it. Anyway, the first order of business was to break out the DVDs I brought to keep Daniel and me occupied: Gremlins and Men in Black. Young boys love monster movies. Old boys do too.

Somewhere near the end of the 2nd feature, I heard Sammy fart. It didn’t seem to slow him down much from his busy schedule of crawling into every corner he wasn’t supposed to be in and pulling stuff off shelves, so I didn’t think much of it. Besides, it was too “airy.”

Shortly after the movie was over, Daniel told me, “Uncle Bluz, Sam pooped.”

Off in the distance, a lone cricket chirped. Somewhere, the sun was shining, children were playing in a meadow and all was sweetness and light. But there was no joy in Catonsville tonight...

“Are you sure he didn’t just fart?” I asked Daniel.

“No, his farts don’t smell like that,” he answered matter-of-factly.

A brother knows these things, I guess.

I picked Sam up for the “smell test.” Yup, no doubt about it. It was time for my baptism of fire. At best I was hoping to handle it with deftness and aplomb. At worst, I was hoping not to yak on the baby.

I carefully laid out my supplies… fresh diaper on the floor on the right, a couple of baby-wipes just above that. I laid the baby down; put a toy in his hand…

OK, I’m going in…”

I pulled back the Velcro, lifted the feet, and took a peek.

Oh my God.”

It was like a mudslide. It brought to mind what the last people on Mt. St. Helens must have seen. I couldn’t believe that a single diaper could accept so much stress without bursting. I wasn’t even sure that I could. It was like the gates of Hell had parted with a choir of demons crying, “Everybody out!” I was tempted to pull my shirt up over my nose, but I didn’t want him thinking he was being changed by a terrorist.

I moved the offending diaper out of the way, and reached for the new one. But wait! If I lowered him back down, before I’d cleaned him off, he’d get the fresh diaper dirty. So it was then I realized that this wasn’t quite as easy it seemed in my tutorial. There’s a big difference between switching out a clean diaper, versus trying to remove 2 pounds of toxic waste from a squirming baby. So as I continued to hold his feet up, like I was showing off a prize-winning trout, I started in with the baby-wipes. I burned through the two I’d laid out in no time, and realized I had barely made a dent.

I tried pulling more out of the dispenser, but they didn’t seem to want to break free. Now where’s that 3rd arm when you need it? Or, where’s that other nephew when you need him? Looks like Daniel got out of Dodge while he could. I resorted to holding the box with my knees and managed to wiggle out a few more baby-wipes to finish wiping out the old DMZ.

Cleanup detail completed, I was finally able to lower Sam’s little bum into a nice clean diaper and send him crawling off in search of more stuff to pull off the shelves.

I packed up the offending diaper, and lit out in search of the garbage can, which was outside. Funny, I felt like I should be working out with the load I was carrying. (Here’s the new exercise craze, “Pumping Poo!”). Carrying that load at arm’s length was a good workout for the old deltoids. That kid must have just lost about 10% of his body weight. I really had no idea that babies contained so much poop.

Now, out with the old, in with the new... it’s time for feeding. This part was easy. I was told that Sam just opens up and you drop in a spoonful of food. This proved to be essentially correct. What I wasn’t told was that it would be a moving target. It almost became like a carnival game, trying to get the loaded spoon into a bobbing, weaving little mouth, without dotting his cheeks like a Raggedy Andy doll. But again, we got the job done.

Finally, it was time for Daniel and me to eat… “Helloooooo pizza!”

Well, eventually. While trying to keep one eye on Sam, pick the pizza phone number and dial with the other eye, I accidentally picked the wrong “emergency” number and called my brother’s cell. Took me a second to figure out what I’d done… but he must have known it was me and was probably wondering what the hell I’d done now.

I put his mind at ease right away… “It’s OK… no problems… just dialed your number by mistake…” I gave him a quick rundown of the day’s events and atrocities, and got on with obtaining our pizza.

Everything was pretty much a breeze from there. Oh, Sammy loaded up another one for me. (“Where the hell does it all come from?”)

Luckily, it wasn’t quite as voluminous as the first one. This one was changed with a minimum of fuss and crying. From me, I mean.

Actually, Sam never cried all day and I really thank my lucky stars for that. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to deal with constant crying, in addition to conducting decontamination detail. He ate well, took his bottles well, napped occasionally on my lap, and otherwise occupied himself quite nicely. Daniel was a big help as well, keeping an eye on little bro when I had to prepare the bottles or heat up Sam’s food.

Putting Sam to bed didn’t quite work out, so I had to abort that effort, figuring he’d conk out when he was good and ready. Mommy and Daddy came home around 11:30, to find Sammy asleep on my chest, and Daniel and I watching King Kong, a picture of family bliss. But now it was time for me to make a break for it.

I was happy that I was able to pull it off, but was left with a sense of amazement regarding parents. How they live like that day in and day out is incredible. I learned how draining it is to stay on such a constant state of high alert. It’s a wonder any of us ever lived to grow up at all, let alone had siblings. But it was all good. Tomorrow would be Sunday, and I’d need that day of rest.

*The “Five Steps of Grief” is from the noted book “On Death and Dying” by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 1969. (This is a book I read in college. I find it helps to appear scholarly when writing about poop.)

24 comments:

  1. I can't imagine how parents do it either! I have a lot of nieces and nephews and have done some poo patrol myself, but I have step children who were, mercifully, well out of diapers when I met their father. Whenever I have something difficult to do, I remind myself that it will be over in an hour, a day, or whenever. The thing about parenthood is that it's 24/7 and it's never really over. It's a good thing that some people are willing to take on the challenge.

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  2. I'm cracking up because I once wrote an entire post about the Five Stages of Shitting Your Pants: http://tinyurl.com/yzn5vsq

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  3. Pat,
    I told myself, as I went into it, that this was sure to make a good story... And to think, all things considered, I got off easy!

    Gina,
    I'll be sure to investigate that!

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  4. This was hysterical! But what a terrific man you are. You came to the aid of your family and agreed to baby-sit. I think you did a fabulous job and surmounted the poop problem well. Have you noticed that babies smile when they do this? I think it is an early form of revenge, a preparation for when they become teenagers and poop all over you without the stench but it still stinks!

    Maybe you should get out THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF to help you through the bye week. Loved the photo! Men all over Pittsburgh will be doing that same image this weekend. Maybe you should start a support group. :) Well, have a beer anyway and enjoy the losses of teams you don't want in the running. Just think: You could be living in Cleveland!

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  5. @Cher.....what's that crack about Cleveland??

    @Bluzdude....very funny! I was laughing, especially how you described the car ride. Very well written. I could almost smell it from here.

    What you experienced was even harder than what parents experience. You experienced what it's like to be a single parent. Now that's crazy!

    You've just discovered the secret!! Maybe I'll write about this....Hmmm........

    The secret to keeping couples together...POOP!!

    Because without a tag team it's a nightmare.

    Off to ponder Poop!!

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  6. @The Guys...oops, thought you liked the Pats!? Cleveland is well...would "cooked" be the right word? One and six or is it six and one? :)

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  7. Cher: You mean, live in Cleveland AGAIN. I did four years in Cleveland (Parma, specifically). I think I told Tiff about that on her site. Speaking of, how is she? It looks like she closed up her site...

    The Guys: Thanks so much! I'm happy someone finally appreciates that part of the story. The part about breathing through my coat sleeve is my favorite line in the whole thing.

    But I mean it about my new respect for parents. I don't know how people can live like that for all those years. It's super-human.

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  8. I love it! You're a fine uncle. Poop patrol sucks, but I always put it into perspective: kids bums are small. Elderly bums are HUGE. Enjoy the little bums while you can. I wipe butts of all sizes!

    You're a great writer. I thought it was hillarious.

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  9. Cassie: I never thought of it that way, but that is an excellent point. Target area WAS much smaller and I should thank my lucky stars. Maybe I can work that in when I inevitably rewrite the tale for the umpteenth time.

    For those that don't know, Cassie is a shining example of all that is right with the nursing profession, all butt-wiping aside.

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  10. Yo Bluzdude. You inspired us. And we gave you credit for it. See our new post.

    Thanks!!

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  11. Oh, man. I love other peoples' kids, but I love being able to give them back even more. This reminds me why, so thank you.

    (Came via Puck Huffers comment)

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  12. Guys:
    I read it, I love it, and I added another story in your comments. Everyone, be sure to check out the GUYS new post. http://theguysperspective.typepad.com/the-guys-perspective/

    Lilo: That's the beauty of the Uncle's job... getting the kids all charged up, then handing them back to the parents. "My work here is done." PS: I love the Puck Huffers. Those Pens-loving women are golden with me.

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  13. Just had to let you know that your story on The Guys blog was too funny! Everyone should read that one too.

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  14. Thanks Cher...
    Yeah, I got a million of'em... Real life is so often more entertaining than fiction.
    I ought to have enough material to supply a blog for years!

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  15. I think you are an amazing brother to babysit! I have 4 brothers and none of them have ever babysat my two kids...okay so I've never asked them before and have always asked one of my sisters to do it instead, but the fact that you do is amazing! FYI if you think poop is gross just wait until one of them pukes on you. LOL Loved the post!

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  16. hahahahaha....this made me laugh and laugh and laugh. And made me think of both of my brothers when they "offered" to watch our little man. LOL. TOOOO funny. Loved the post.

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  17. Tammy:
    I was totally a last resort... lol... But happy to do it. I don't usually need my arm twisted to hang out with my nephews. And if the baby puked on me, I'd probably puke right back on him.

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  18. Jenny:
    So glad you liked it. I've been enjoying your blog as well. Thanks so much for visiting and please, do come again!

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  19. OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!

    LITERALLY LAUGHED MY ASS OFF!

    You are supposed to wipe what you can off with the dirty diaper and tuck it underneath him, then go for the wipes, feet up, stick said wipes in dirty diaper, slide clean diaper on, close dirty one up!!!!

    Holy fuck!

    I may be a trophy wife, I also happen to have to little fuckers of my own! Oh shit I would have paid good fucking money to see that shit. Sammy was thinking the whole time...

    "What the fuck i Uncle Bluz doing?"

    Now I want to watch Gremlins thank you!

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  20. I so don't miss those nasty freaking diapers! When my little peanut was barely a week old she projectile shit on me while I was trying to change her diaper. And everyone around me laughed. Assholes.

    Oh and damn I need to watch Gremlins too.

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  21. See, CB… that’s my point! You can’t teach diaper-changing with clean diapers. It’s just not the same. I felt like I needed a couple more arms in order to do all that sht at the same time. Your method sounds much more efficient… I wish I had you as a trainer. You know your sht.

    And right, Sammy was like, “geez, Mom, this was the best you could do for a sitter?” Funny how they have never asked me again… But it would be easier now… Sam’s 4 and a half. Me, him and Daniel could just play ball all day.

    Glad you liked the story… (I kind of knew you would…) Mog-Wai!!!

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  22. Blogette,
    At least when the child is yours, you have time to practice while it’s a newborn and not pooping quite so much. You have time to get the drill down before things take a turn for the foul. I was like a relief pitcher coming in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

    Thank God I never got any ON me… I’d have hurled, no doubt.

    I miss Phoebe Cates. She was so cute…

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  23. I laughed so hard reading this. I can just see you in this situation!
    For some reason I was able to change my children's diapers, but not any other children's without gagging! I can change my grandson's.

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