We’re walking along the beautiful, oak-tree shaded trail that winds along the marina of the little town of Pinawa, on the edges of Whiteshell Provincial Park, the kids running around maniacally,
destroying enjoying nature, Sean and I engaged in an intense war. The Ender, racing ahead of us with his siblings, is… I believe the technical term is odiferous. Rancid even. The toilet training regression to end all toilet training regressions is in full-swing on this particular family holiday. There is a disgusting poopy diaper that needs to be changed.
And neither Sean nor I want to do it.
(By the way. I should warn you. This is not a toilet training story at all. It’s actually a Cinder-and-Ender penis story. I know you’ve missed them.)
And we know each other so well we don’t even have the
“It’s your turn.”
“No, it’s your turn.”
exchange. It has—have I mentioned?–been the toilet training regression to end all toilet training regressions, aggravated by the stress of travel and a diet not anally controlled by Mommy, and there is no use counting how many diapers I’ve changed, how many poopy bums he’s washed. We’re done. So done. As far as each of us is concerned, at this moment, the stinky three-year-old can sit in his own stinky shit for the rest of his days.
… all the while, each of us not-so-secretly hopes that the other will be the better, more patient parent and do the right thing, just one more time, just this once…
… as we walk along the trail… with no spare diaper or wipes left (toilet training regression to end ALL toilet training regressions)…
… the child, more odiferous and foul with each step…
… and finally, Flora yells, at the top of her lungs:
“Will somebody please wash Ender’s bum? It’s disgusting!”
… and Ender bursts into tears, and Sean and I look at each other, and he does one of those things that reminds just how much I love him and how right we are for each other and what a kick-ass parenting team we make no matter what other complications occur in our lives:
“If I wash him in the river, will you carry the dirty diaper?”
Oh, yes, beloved. Oh, yes.
(I know you’ve only read this far waiting for the penis story. Here it comes.)
So there is my beloved, washing our third child’s bohunkus in the once-pristine waters of the Winnipeg River. And Ender is furious and embarrassed and appalled. See, he doesn’t want to be in the toilet training regression any more than we want him there. It’s humiliating to be closer to four than three and be slung over his father’s knee—on a riverbank no less—getting his butt washed with icy cold water.
And my Sean, he is pretty much the world’s best father—I know you think it’s you, your husband? No, sorry. My Sean. Get in line. And so he looks and looks for a distraction and because it’s a river, of course there is one, and so:
“Ender! Look! A crayfish! Look at that crayfish!”
And the embarrassment and crying and humiliation are forgotten, immediately.
“A crayfish! Crayfish! Catch him for me, Daddy, catch him!”
And Sean reaches for the crayfish and skoot, it zooms away, and Ender reaches for the crayfish, and it scoots and snaps its claws at him, and Cinder and Flora come running to see what’s going on, and the bum washing ends in peace and, if not quiet, then certainly laughter, and we walk away from the river bank—me, carrying the dirty diaper—happy, laughing.
(The penis story’s coming. Be patient. This one requires build up.)
And Flora turns to Cinder and says,
“I can’t believe Daddy washed Ender’s bum on top of a crayfish.”
And Cinder turns to Ender and says,
“You’re so lucky, Ender, that crayfish didn’t nip off your penis. So lucky!”
And as Ender turns around to wallop his elder brother but hard in the testicles and as Cinder sidesteps so the fist goes flying into Flora and as Flora hides behind her Dad, Ender’s fist of fury makes contact with his father’s loins just as his father says,
“Don’t worry. The way your mom will tell the story, Ender will have had an almost-circumcision or an outright castration while I dangled his penis over a crayfish while washing his bu… Ah, fuck, what was that for, Ender?”
Karma, baby. Karma. For mocking the story-telling propensities of the mother of your beautiful children.
But… also, truth. By this time next year, this will be the “Remember how the crayfish tried to nip Ender’s penis while Daddy was washing his bum in Pinawa?” story. And five years from now, maybe it will have been successful. Ten years from now—there might even be a scar.
But for now—today, in this moment—this is the story of how Sean’s the best dad ever.
P.S. I only had to carry that dirty diaper for about 500 metres before I found a garbage can. (In future versions of the story—5 K at least, I think.)
P.P.S. The walk took place Monday, August 5, 2013. The story’s been evolving.
P.P.P.S. What do you mean, “evolving”? Baby, I’m a writer. Nothing you read of mine is spontaneous. Never forget that.
Still here? Just for you:
Great reads that popped into my in-box or newsfeeds this week:
If you’re feeling crafty, Rashmie at Mommy Labs has this awesome 30-Days of Leaf Art thing going. Gods alive all know I’ll never even try it… but my Flora’s all stoked.
US radio host Matt Walsh delivers the last word on breastfeeding in public. LOVE it: We must stop these crazed half-naked people from feeding their children in front of other people.
Ginny at Small Things says: I’m a good mom because I love my kids, but not because I’m getting that much right, and yeah, that’s all there’s to it.
And for the unschoolers in the audience, from my LinkedIn network no less: Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are playing Minecraft today