This past weekend we had some of my wife’s family over to our house to do a gift swap with our kids since we can’t get together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Their kids ranged in age from about 18 months to 12 years old. My daughter, who is in her first year of college, wasn’t home but my 15 year old son was. Because my kids are older we are not used to having small children in our house. Our house is no longer “childproof” so we had to watch the little ones all the time. However, being seasoned veterans of child rearing, we know that is pretty much impossible, so every so often some of us would check on what was going on.
At one point all the adults were sitting in the kitchen, talking and eating, and we weren’t really paying as much attention to the smallest kids as we should have been. My brother-in-law and I went into our family room to find that some of the kids had got into a few of our games that we thought were put away in a safe place. There on the floor were the games Life and Apples to Apples. All the money and little pieces for Life were mixed in with the 500 or so cards from Apples to Apples. They weren’t just in neat little piles, separated by game. No, as only small children can do, they were mixed together all over the place, along with about 50 Matchbox cars. When I say all over the place, I mean all over the place; the cards for Apples to Apples were under the couches and under the coffee table. It took a long time to find all the cards, put them all the same way so they fit into the slots in the game box and put them away. And yet, it only took a few minutes to make the mess! Even with our diligence we later found Scrabble tiles in different places.
The smallest child still wears a diaper and of course at some point it needed to be changed. I find it funny that people will pick up their child and smell their behind, cringe and with watery eyes say, “Oh, that’s a bad one!” Really? The rest of us knew it was a bad one without having to cause brain damage by taking a whiff. So then it was on to the changing. Like I said earlier, we’re not used to having small children in the house, especially my son. He was eating in the room off of the kitchen when the dirty deed was done. In about 2.5 seconds he was out in the kitchen with his shirt up over his nose to block the smell. To say he was having a hard time with the smell would be a huge understatement. There was about a 50/50 chance he was going to lose his lunch. He then went outside to get some fresh air and away from the smell, his face slightly pale.
I found the whole incident amusing. I remember those days when I was younger and my older brothers or sisters were changing the diapers on my nieces and nephews. I couldn’t get far enough away! In my mind, I thought I’d never be changing a poopy diaper because I was going to let my wife do it. Then I got married and had kids and realized that would never fly. I think that’s about where my son is now. Just the thought of changing a nasty, poopy diaper is enough to make him physically ill. Someday he’ll be changing them like a pro.
I changed my share of diapers and even gagged on a few of them, but for the most part you get used to the odor. But now that it has been so many years of poopy diaper-less living, I have to admit that I wasn’t quite ready for the onslaught to my nose. I wasn’t gagging, but I was happy when my son went outside for a minute and left the door open. It helped clear the air so I could actually enjoy my food again and so we could get back to our normal conversation instead of discussing poopy diapers.
Later, after everyone was gone, I sat down on the couch and just reveled in the quiet in my family room. I have forgotten how loud small children can be when there is a group of them in a house. The silence was almost deafening. I got up to put away the last couple of Matchbox cars left on the floor and discovered a few more Scrabble tiles that had been missed. Some day we’re going to play Scrabble and find that the Q, the X, or the Z is missing when one of us has an incredible word with Triple Word Score potential. Then we will fully realize that, although we are seasoned veterans of child rearing, our house is most definitely not childproof anymore.