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Poop shoot lesson

Had a wonderful experience with poop, potty training and our little YY the other week. Suffice to say, he is just 19 months old going on 20, and still likes to drop his load in his diapers after grunting a little bit. What makes me laugh watching him poop is the way his face contorts into some sort of weird grin and his skin turns red as he puts in the effort. And then, the grunting stops, and he’s happy as usual, and I, with a habitual sigh, take him upstairs to the change table and relieve him of his soiled nappy.

This time, though, I had just picked him up after one of his legendary two-to-three-hour naps that he has daily in the bed. He had a touch of diaper rash, and with a touch of brilliance I decided that it would be a good idea to let him run around sans culotte for a little while and let things air out down there.

So far, so good.

And then… I saw him standing behind the table looking up at me with his beady eyes, telling me that he had done a kind of “uh-oh!” thing. He says this a lot. “Uh-oh!” every time he drops the cellphone on which he’s been watching Baby Einstein, or every time he drops a Cheerios, or some other kind of boo-boo.

A boo-boo such as taking a massive dump right onto the hardwood floor. There it was, a lovely little brown log, and our little YY standing right behind it not sure whether to be proud, embarrassed or ashamed of himself.

So I took this as my onus to teach him a wee lesson on the fine art of pooping. I led him to the bathroom, tore off a few sheets of toilet paper, and led him back to the poop. I then picked up the offending morsel with the toilet paper, all the while saying: “Poo! Poo!” with a big grin on my face.

An aside: It’s important to X – and therefore, important to myself -
that little YY isn’t embarrassed about his poop, but rather, is accepting of this wonderfully fascinating element of the human body. We don’t want this guy growing up with a weird complex where he’s ashamed of poo, pee, penises, or whatnot.

So, back to my story: I showed him the poo, letting him know in a chirpy voice that it was HIS poo. He had a little smile on his face, wondrous and fascinated. I then led him back to the bathroom, lifted the toilet seat and threw the offending morsel into the water with a little splash. “That’s where your poo goes!” I said with glee, and told him it was now time to say bye-bye.

Another aside: “Bye-bye!” is another favourite word of little YY’s. He often waves at people, things, animals, and other stuff and says with a loud voice: “BYE!”

And here, he waved at the poo and said “Bye-bye!” as I flushed the toilet. What a happy boy he was, immensely proud of himself. The little tyke may not even be 20 months old, but I’m hoping – and perhaps not necessarily against hope – that he understood the whole concept of poop in the toilet. Good for him, and good for us, too, because eventually we may not have to change him so often after he’s produced yet another chocolate mousse in his underwear.

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Monkey see, monkey do

Well, the time has come. We, as parents, need to be parents. No more dillydallying around. No more of that hippie stuff where you get to be however you want to be around your child. No more of that fun crazy stuff of being a normal human being. We are suddenly role models.

Reason? We had a meeting at the daycare last week – kind of a PTA meeting, you know? – and they told us about little YY’s antics there. Often, they told us, he likes to fart around, keep to himself, play, and particularly loves to engage in artistic activities (which in no short way made me beam with pride). But there were a couple of problems – first, little YY seems a little oblivious to what’s going on, particularly when he’s called by name. The daycare teachers would clap their hands and say “OK, kids, time for┬álunch!” and call each one of them to the table by name. Each and every one of them obediently stops what they’re doing, gets up, and walks over to the table and sits down, ready to eat.

But not little YY. He’s totally oblivious. He doesn’t seem to respond to any of this. They suggested maybe he had a bit of a hearing problem, but X and I know that is absolutely not the case. There’s plenty of evidence that he can hear – he gets really excited every time he hears the front door open, as it’s either an opportunity for him to go out or it’s a sign that mama is home from work. And there’s other reasons we know he can hear – he can listen to music and in fact bounces his head up and down like a true headbanger (hey, like father, like son!) when he clicks on the radio.

Still, teachers call him – “YY! YY! Come to the table and eat!” and he acts like they don’t even exist. But you know what I think? He’s a little like I was at that age. I didn’t want any of that shit. I just wanted to chill, do my thing, and be independent. I wasn’t going to be this obedient little lamb who flocks with the herd. No sirree.

In fact, I talked to X about this, and told her about how it’s like the scene in the Social Network where Jesse Eisenberg (acting as Mark Zuckerberg) was at the table conversing with all his lawyers, until suddenly he starts staring out the window and ignoring them completely, like a pompous jerk. When his lawyers inquired as to what the heck he was doing, he responded with:

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”

Maybe that’s what Alex is doing. He’s a future Zuckerberg of sorts. He is focused on his task at hand, and other crap is not important. I thought it was pretty funny myself.

But I’m going off in tangents. Back to the monkey see, monkey do bit. The teachers told us that little YY was getting a little aggressive with the other kids without provocation. Twice in the last week, we were informed of sudden, repeated incidents within a half-hour time frame where little YY would walk up to another kid, grab them by the neck and throw them down to the floor, and then carry on in his merry ways. Then ten minutes later, he’d go to another kid and pull them by the hair. He did this twice to two different kids. And he’s also pinched other kids, grabbed their cheeks, yanked their toys away from them, and so on.

The teachers assured us that it’s likely a very normal development and that little YY is just learning and developing as a toddler and doing what he can because of his limited communication abilities. He’s just exploring and testing what he can and can’t do. But the teachers also suggested there’s a possibility he learned this behaviour from watching others do the same – i.e. from TV and movies.

Now, we’ve been pretty careful not to let little YY watch any kind of violence on TV – one outstanding example would be when we’re watching UFC – and so, he’ll hang out in the other room while we’re watching this sorta stuff. But both X and I realized that we’re acting sort of violent with each other. Not outright smack each other violence, but pretend, fun violence like ordering each other to do something and mimicking the crack of a whip as we do so.

It was a bit of a realization for both of us. We have to watch what we do and how we act around YY. And we particularly have to watch our language – we both swear like sailors in the home – so no more F-bombs, no more shits, no more assholes. We’ll now have to do flippin’, freakin’, shoots, bugger it, and so on and so forth. Like Hugh Grant trying to censor himself in Four Weddings and a Funeral – Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger it!

So, we, as the elder monkeys, have to put on a responsible facade of sorts for our little monkey, because as the old saying goes: Monkey see, monkey do. There’s a lot of truth in that.

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The little beast becomes interactive

For a long time since little YY was born, I struggled. While I was proud to be a poppa, and while I could feel my eyes start to tear up with love whenever someone asked me about my kid, I also felt something that was disconcerting. A slight sense of disconnection. I didn’t quite feel so strongly connected to my little boy as X did.

See, X, being the momma, was instantly in love with little YY as soon as he was conceived. Quite literally. She was already in love with him before she’d even met him. She could feel him growing in her belly, day by day, week by week, month by month. She could feel the quickening, when you first feel the baby’s movements. She could feel him sleeping, she could feel him awake. He’d stretch and kick and punch and yawn and do all kinds of cool stuff inside her belly. And if you watched carefully, you could see the movements on the surface of that rotund abdomen.

Then he was born. She instantly became super momma, taking care of him every which way, diapers, breastfeeding, getting up in the middle of the night. I did as much as I humanely could as a poppa with a full-time job, and loved every single minute of it.

But for many months on end, I also felt a tad guilty that I didn’t feel the overpowering, incredible river of boundless love for YY as X seemed to have. Why was that? Well, reading up on it, I find that it’s very common for the father to feel that way. The father doesn’t quite get that same intimate experience of feeling life growing inside, and then breastfeeding them and so on. The baby doesn’t react nearly as strongly either – baby’s eyes light up when momma’s around, because he can smell her, he can sense her, and she is his ultimate giver of life and nurturing.

But I also read that somewhere during the second year, things suddenly change. The father starts to feel a lot stronger as a father. Starts to feel more connected and starts to really, thoroughly enjoy being a dad. It’s so true. I’m feeling this so much more now. Little YY is nineteen months now – 19! – and is walking around, babbling, laughing, shouting, crying, and doing all kinds of cool shit. He’s even following me everywhere, giving me a book for me to read to him and sitting in my lap, bringing me his shoes for me to put on him, and all kinds of other gestures that tell me that I am his poppa and I am a very important person in his life.

This kind of self-affirmation and validation is incredibly powerful. Right now, X is tired, and having a hard time dedicating herself to being a mom who’s working fulltime, but at the same time I am getting to the point where I really don’t mind and I really enjoy having little YY around. To the point where it’s kind of fun to do stuff. I can take him to the lake and let him run around. I can kick the ball around with him. I can take him to show him all kinds of fascinating stuff.

And I had a bit of an epiphany as well the other day down at the lake. I saw how fascinated YY was at everything. He was screaming at little clouds of bugs that buzzed in the bushes, and shouting “DOG-GIE!” at every dog that passed on the street, and looking right into the water and running around and splashing about like it was the most awesome thing in the world.

My epiphany? I remember feeling that same kind of wonderment and fascination as a kid at just about everything. Nature, especially. There’s a richness in nature that is unmatched by anything in museums, cities and whatnot. You could set me free as a kid in a forest and I’d have the time of my life. I’m seeing little YY starting to feel that experience too. It’s really, really cool to see.

I guess that’s what it is. Louis CK made it very clear – when they’re babies, they remember nothing, the same way you remember nothing as a kid. But then they get to an age where you remember what life was like at that age as well, and well, whoa, things start to really happen. That is for freakin’ sure. I can tell you right now, that is absolutely right.