A loud cry shatters the relative peace and quiet of our home. Running footsteps, swooping arms and then a deep male voice that coos loudly, “Oh no, is Papa’s widdle tiny babywaby blue? Is she blue? Oh no, she is blue. Blue blue blue. Papa’s gonna take care of you right away.”
This incredibly fast emasculation of a normal adult male happens within hours of the birth of the first child. The hospital passes you a squirming, crying child and one of those magical diapers with the strip that turns blue everytime said child pees or poops. Being both completely clueless and completely overwhelmed by the bowel movement charts, boob rotation schedule and the tiny life that is at your mercy, you view said magical strip like a gift from the parenting gods. Finally one thing you don’t have to guess about.
This is what it was like when we had our first child. She cried. We checked the yellow-turn-blue strip. Strip was blue. We changed her. We then likely continued on through our rotation of 15 other things that could be making her cry at any moment (She’s too hot. No, too cold. No, hungry. No, just ate. Burp. etc.) 15 things were in the area of “your best guess is as good as mine” and 1 was certain: blue.
When you have your first child, a 30 pack of newborn diapers will last you two days, at best. When you have your second child, that same 30 pack will have leftovers that you will pass along to the next friend who has a baby. By the second time around you’ve realized that 98% of babies don’t cry because they have a peepee diaper. Because they always have a peepee diaper. Those damn little things pee nearly nonstop 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, you won’t learn this until you start to potty train.
Which nicely segues into potty training, or as I like to call it “parents’ greatest exercise in futility”. The only person that gets trained is you. But the mere existence of the term drives the fallacy that you have some amount of control over when your first child will learn to use the potty. You will try things like bribery, with artfully illustrated sticker charts and brown m&ms as a reward. You’ll beg, threaten, and eventually borrow potty after potty. At the lowest point, you’ll opt for the dreaded “free bum / train in a weekend” method and will spend 48 hours chasing a toddler around with a roll of paper towels.
This is when you’ll learn that kids pee nonstop. You’ll also begin tallying up the amount of money you could have put into your wine fund had you bought less diapers and rolls of paper towels. And sticker charts and training potties. The lightbulb will go on over your head and you will be struck by the marketing genius of the diaper manufacturers. “Oh My God! They sold me an extra 2,000,000 diapers because of that damn blue stripe.” And then you’ll be blue.
By the time the second child strolls out of the hospital, you’ll have that diaper thing down. Papa will coo, “Papa’s little babywaby doesn’t smell stinkywinky. Those meanieweanie mother effers at the diaper company aren’t getting another pennywenny from us, are they? No they aren’t.” Instead of arguing over who forgot to buy more diapers, you’ll argue over whose turn it is to do the once daily diaper change.
Then one marvelous day, number two will march over to the potty, pull down their pants and drop the big chalupa in front of a nice new couple you’ve invited over for tea. There will be no training, no cajoling, no arguing or bribing. It will be when you least expect it and you’ll suddenly find yourself not needing a diaper again. The only guarantee is that this will happen one day after you buy six month’s worth of diapers and throw away the receipt. But you won’t even care, because your diaper-turned-wine fund is overflowing your veins with a chardonnay cheerfulness.
And finally, you too can you write: Parenting the Second Child: the Potty Edition.