Baby poop is terrifying. Maybe it’s because the only thing the childless among us really comprehend is the grossness that is fecal matter, unanticipated or otherwise. The pain? The seeping breasts? The sleeplessness? The squalling? Those are experiences you can’t understand until you have the badge that is a baby’s birth certificate. But like the good book says, everybody poops.
I attended my second first birthday party of the year just a few days ago. The assembled guests arrived with koozies and the requisite oversize animal-print gift bags, happy to drink beer out of DIYed straws and toast the toddler in question. When it was deemed too hot outside for the munchkins in their 1T finest, we followed them into the Freon-refrigerated haven, happy to have an excuse to ditch the great outdoors on such a gloriously hot day. When the birthday boy was stripped down to nearly his birthday suit, we cooed as he was snapped into his highchair, a baby-sized cake on the way. When a young lady four years his senior screwed up her face and bawled because she was forbidden from blowing out the candles before we bellowed an off-key “Happy Birthday,” we could hear the camera shutters click above the din. And when he lowered his pudgy cheeks to the icing and delicately licked the treat, we didn’t hand him a fork and deride the messiness; we switched to video.
One patty-caked cake and all of its yellow icing later, the guests were on their hands and knees, scrubbing sugar off the floor, when we heard a desperate squeal come from upstairs: “He pooped in the tub!” his mother called. Heads popped up across the room. As we childless caught each other’s eyes and winced, it was another new mom who leapt to the rescue. Her dress whipped out of sight as she rounded the landing. It was then that I started to giggle. In the face of hazardous material, with a clean-up crew on the way, what else is there to do?
The play-by-play came later. “He’s never done it before!” the babe’s mother exclaimed. “I was just staring at it as it came out in this—this stream—and wondering, ‘How did he get cake into his diaper?’” The punch line: It wasn’t cake.