I am not known for my strong constitution when it comes to matters of teeth, blood, and various bodily fluids. So I’ve always been nervous about fatherhood, and the necessity to deal with injuries and indecencies aplenty. But so far, I’ve found some new capacities right in the moment, which seems hopeful.
Last week, The Girlie left me a present on her birthday: she pooped in her bath (which, since we don’t have a tub in our small place, is actually a plastic tub set on the floor of our shower). I had stepped away for a minute (but never out of earshot!) before I poked my head back around the corner to a peculiar smell and a suddenly murky tub. She gave me her customary, lilting, “Hi, Daddy,” and showed me where she had already fished out the bigger pieces and laid them on the floor of the shower. “Mess,” she said helpfully, pointing with her dirty fingers. Breathing through my mouth, I instantly strategized as to how to get the suddenly bio-hazard-Girl clean again, emptying the tub, cleaning it and her, dressing her, and sending her out of the room while I cleaned everything else (the shower itself, bath toys, soap and shampoo bottles, and anything else that happened to be on the floor of the shower).
This morning, she woke up early with her week-old cough and crusty nose, and I talked her into laying down on the couch to wake up slowly (and letting her dad keep his eyes closed for a few more minutes). She snuggled up quietly, laying on my chest and sharing the big blanket, until she woke up and asked for a ‘yipe’ (ie, a kleenex). Not wanting to get up myself, I showed her where the box of tissues was sitting on a table, and she happily retrieved them. We then blew her nose, and she started to cough unproductively, then gag. It would probably be useless to debate if the sticky substance that came out of her mouth was throat-gunk or vomit… what was interesting to me was that in the moment(s) that it was being expelled, I patted the Girlie on the back and directed the substance toward my chest and my T-shirt (which is, after all, much easier to clean than the couch). I guess this smell that I can’t seem to get off of my skin is the smell of fatherhood. It is the physical evidence of my gaining new capacities to become the person I’d like to be, all in the laboratory of real life.