I am going to tell you about a certain incident that happened in your babyhood. I want to tell you now, so that we can get proper mileage out of it in years to come. I don’t want your high school graduation or your wedding to be the first time you hear about it.
So where do we begin? Every summer to this point, I would apparently forget the summer prior and decide we needed to start having more Fun as a Family. You aren’t old enough to know about Brigadoon, and perhaps you will never be old and square enough to know about Brigadoon, but Fun as a Family was a lot like Brigadoon. It’s when you have this vague impression that there was something awesome and joyous, and that it can be gained if you just go looking for it–but it’s usually a tiring and maddening search that ends with people crying about how hungry they are and forgetting to bring the dog home with them.
This was your first summer, and our first summer of having three kids. We said, “Hey, we’ll throw the kids in the car and take them to the river!” Your father said, “Should we bring the dog?” “Dog?” I asked, puzzled. Then I looked outside, and caught a glimpse of a golden retriever I had forgotten we had. “Yes! Of course, the dog!” We told you three children that we were going to the river. Your sister and brother cheered, and you looked blank. Then your brother and sister started to fight and shout about who should get the red Barbie dress, and you watched them with interest. I choked back my brief moment of wondering how I was going to handle three children on the banks of a river when I usually didn’t know where they all were in my own home.
Your father went out to try to find all of the water toys, and I sent your sister to find the swim suits. She said she couldn’t find them. After I went to where we always keep them and found them there in plain sight, I packed the swim suits. I tried to at least periodically check to make sure you had stayed where I left you. One thing I will always be grateful for is that you took forever to learn to crawl, and so you usually more or less stayed where I left you. But you did often have someone else’s toys, shoes, or school supplies in your mouth.
Thank Goodness for Late Crawlers
As your brother and sister moved on to administering beatings to each other, I seized hold of your sister and asked her to please go find the beach towels. She looked blank. I explained what they were and where to find them. She headed in the direction that I sent her. I found you trying to eat Barbie shoes. I took them away. Your sister returned. “I can’t find any.” “They’re right there, in the closet.” She looked offended that I didn’t believe her. Sighing, I went to the closet. “Here they are!” I called to nobody. I packed them. I made some sandwiches. I tried to locate something for you to eat. I packed snacks for before and after lunch, and everybody’s naptime blankies and binkies. Yes, your nearly-three-year-old brother still used naptime binkies. Don’t you dare judge me. Just you wait till you have kids of your own.
Anyway, I packed drinks and I packed diapers and I packed changes of clothes. Your father packed piles of water toys, a wagon, and the dog’s miscellany into the car. I asked Selah to get a blanket from the living room. She acted like she had never heard of either blankets or the living room, and after I explained, she headed out to get the blanket. You smiled at me as if you had something in your mouth. I did a sweep and fished out a little art-project pom pom. Selah returned. “I can’t find it.” After spouting frustration at her, I stamped off the living room. She was right; there was no blanket there.
The blanket had been moved to the play room, where it was incorporated into a slumlike fort. I folded up the blanket. I returned and saw you put some blocks in your mouth. “Don’t–oh, forget it.” The blocks looked too big to swallow.
Learning from the Master
Approximately eleven hours later, we were ready to leave for our trip. The car was groaning with all of the equipment we were bringing to enjoy a couple of hours at the river. Exhausted, everybody was snarling at everybody else.
We eventually made it out of town and up to the river. It must have been 150 degrees. We parked and hauled everybody and everything across an old covered bridge, even though the dog and your brother were terrified of the bridge. We hauled everything and everybody down an overly steep hill and toward the water. We hauled everybody and everything down the beach a ways, to where there was a tiny iota of shade. There we discovered that if we left the dog unleashed, she had this small tendency to swim away and never come back ever again. So we leashed her up near the water. She kept getting in and swimming in place. I was super happy we had remembered to bring her.
By this time, it was 160 degrees, so it was imperative that we all stay in the water the whole time. Only your sister knew how to swim, so that meant we had to try to keep your brother from drowning himself. I also kept a vigilant eye on the dog, to make sure she did not entangle herself in the leash in the water and drown. Meanwhile, there were all these nice, smooth river rocks on the beach. Did I mention you liked to put things in your mouth? Things like sand and rocks?
Every time we turned around, you had another lovely, smooth river rock in your mouth.You were still so little that you dealt with my taking them away pretty well. But then you’d get another one. “For the love…Please stop eating rocks!” I begged, taking the eighth or ninth rock away. You smiled at me, with your tongue sticking out of your teething mouth. I could tell you would have liked to say, “OK, Mommy,” followed by, “Oh look! Pretty rock!” You inserted another rock, smiling winningly at me. The smile changed to a look of surprise when I took this rock back out, too. Working together, you and I finally cleared the area of rocks.
The rest of the afternoon went pretty well, and Family Fun was at least had by you children, if not by the dog or me. The problem came later, the next day actually.
You had been teething, so we weren’t too worried if you fussed at night. But the next day, you fussed during the day. And it was weird fussing. Like…grunting and whining. When we began to realize that you hadn’t produced any diapers lately, we grew worried. And yes, this is turning into a poop story. I am your mother.
I called my friend Kim. Kim is a nurse practitioner, and she really likes giving free medical advice. “Kim, if Noah ate a rock, do we need to take him to the ER?” Kim came over, palpated your stomach, listened to various things with a stethoscope, and announced that she couldn’t feel anything, and that it was OK to give you time unless you started showing real pain. If we were lucky, whatever seemed to be in there would slowly work its way through. “What’s happening?” I asked you. “Did you eat a rock?” You looked blank, though maybe you were worried, too. Then your face lit up, and you reached for a crayon to put in your mouth.
I was pretty freaked out, though Kim had reassured me somewhat. How did I let my baby eat a rock? How is he going to pass a rock? Look, I felt guilty, OK? I tried my best. I spent the next twenty-four hours waiting for you to start screaming. You didn’t. But you also still didn’t poop, rocks or anything else.
The next day, to my relief, I didn’t have to take you to the ER. You finally had a diaper. And what a diaper!
That diaper answered all of my questions. I didn’t let you eat a rock. You pooped sequins.
So that’s how you know you are the third child. Or else a fairy princess.
Only time will tell, son. Only time will tell. But please stop putting things in your mouth.