If there was any part of parenting before Everett was born that caused me to wake up in a cold sweat at night, it was the idea of changing diapers. I’d heard stories of fathers who put clothes pins on their nose and a dish cloth around their face (sort of like a domesticated bandit). I knew Emily wasn’t going to let me pass on the diaper changing duties, but I also know she’d be less impressed if I decorated our baby with that day’s lunch.
The first six months actually proved diaper changing to be one of the easiest parts of parenting. We went with a cloth diaper service, which meant we just stripped the soggy diaper off Everett and chucked it into the nearby bin. I never had to worry about the dirty diaper again, because a cleaning service would deal with it. The fear of toxic fumes was unwarranted when Everett was only breast feeding, because his “business” doesn’t have much of an odor at all and it was ridiculously easy to contain. Diaper changing was a breeze, and it had the added bonus of making me seem like a super dad since I was so willing to do it. The biggest hassle about diaper changing was Summit’s belief that all things in bins must be toys or treats, and he started a daily ritual of ensuring that there weren’t any toys hidden in the diaper bin. Luckily, we finally found a way to lock up the bin, and Summit went back to exploring the other containers in the house.
Then Everett started eating solids at six months. The waste of mashed yams or broccoli or banana is far different then just plain breast milk. It does have an odor. It also has to be flushed down the toilet rather than just chucked in the bin for the diaper service. Suddenly, diaper changing got a little bit more complicated, and I started trying to think of excuses to why it made more sense that Emily should do it this time (and the next and the next and the one after that too). Unfortunately, Emily has been married to me for a few years, and thus knows exactly when I’m just trying to concoct excuses, so I got to experience the joys of shaking a diaper over a toilet.
This is why I didn’t protest when Emily thought it would be a good idea to start toilet training Everett this summer despite the fact he didn’t crawl or speak English or use a spoon. The plan was to just get Everett comfortable with the toilet early, and Emily even bought a seat for him to use. Within a few days, Everett seemed to figure out why he was on the porcelain throne, which may have been partly due to the fact we made grunting noises the entire time he sat there.
Emily then decided it didn’t make sense to pay a diaper service every month, when we weren’t going through as many diapers now and we could just wash our own diapers. I liked the idea of having more pizza money, but was concerned about the time it would take up having to wash diapers every day. Emily fired back that it really doesn’t take too much time throwing diapers into a washing machine. She is right. But there was the whole thing of “Everett is leaving stains, so you need to scrub the diaper with some soap before it gets thrown in the washing machine.” There was no more any “throw it in the magic bin and never worry about the diaper again.” Now, I really had to engage the diaper. I had to touch the diaper for longer than 3 seconds. I had to rub soap against the diaper and hope the stain disappears.
Now, the hope is that we get Everett on the toilet more often, and that he does far less things in the diaper. What it actually has turned out to mean is I interpret every other noise to be a grunt and rush him off to the toilet, because I don’t want to be the person stuck with having to soap up the dirty diaper. This meant that when I was looking after Everett on my own the other day, we made a visit to the toilet every 45 minutes just to make sure nothing got trapped in the clothed diaper. Yes, I was successful in avoiding having to do some diaper scrubbing, but I also don’t think 50% of my day spent with my son should be making grunting noises in the bathroom.
I’m back to fearing the diaper. Every single diaper change is like being at a casino, but I’m always hoping I come up empty. I’m now paranoid about smells, and every time I hold my son I fear something is emitting from the diaper. I fear the moment I need to touch soap upon the dirty diaper. I realize this is just payback for all years my mom had to do my laundry. The reality is that Everett ends up doing things on the toilet more often than I get stuck with a “masterpiece” in his diaper. But still, the fear remains.
I love that we will end up saving money. I wonder if the extra cash is really worth the lifelong psychological damage I’ve now acquired.