There are times when I ask myself what I’m doing here. One of those times was Thursday morning when Noah, the 1-year-old I look after, surprised me with an explosive crap. I apologize for being graphic, but there’s no other way to say it. We were in the kitchen as I cleaned up after breakfast and made sandwiches for a picnic lunch…and when I started to smell something foul, something stronger than anything confined to a diaper might be, I knew I was in for it.
Tiny spots appeared on the floor.. spots of something that I couldn’t remember having served for breakfast. I left the PB&J open on the cutting board and got to the bottom of things – literally. The yellow sludge had oozed out of his diaper, down his pant legs, past his white socks, and into the world.
It was far more than baby wipes and a changing table situation could handle, so I took everything off, threw the toxic waste and contaminated goods in a garbage bag, and placed him in the tub for a hose-down. His 3-year-old brother, Alex, stood nearby and watched while enjoying a box of raisins and I sat there pumping baby soap into my hands and scrubbing between Noah’s fat rolls thinking to myself, I’m thousands of miles from home in a place where I have basically no friends and don’t speak the language for…this?
It was about 45 minutes before Noah was finally clean and upstairs. I was afraid to dress him again lest it should strike twice, or – heaven forbid – three times. Not wanting to hang out in the bathroom all day waiting for another eruption, though, I dressed him and we set off for the day. First stop was the famous cheese shop down the road where they know the kids and always offer a free taste (to the au pair as well). Then the patisserie across the street that has been voted best in the city in past years. We each got a bite of chocolade as I paid for our little brown paper-wrapped package of sweets.
Worried that chocolate and cheese would only feed the yellow sludge monster, I dropped the groceries off at the house and set off for the park nonetheless. It was a perfect sunny day and we sat at a picnic table, the three of us lined up in a row on the bench eating vruchten (fruit), boterhams (sandwiches), and of course, koekjes (cookies). WIth the sun on my face and two little smiles shining up at me from the picnic bench, I felt like the day was looking up.
We saved all the discarded crusts in a plastic bag so the ducks could eat lunch too, so we headed over to the pond, Alex helping unstable Noah trudge through the muddy grass. The ducks ate, Alex squealed in delight, and Noah was so interested in the water that he almost fell in. All in all a successful trip to the park. I put the two boys, with faces happy and dirt-covered, into the stroller and made it home in time for their nap.
There were no other explosions that day, and I realized that when it’s as bad as it was, it’s pretty unlikely that it’ll get anything but better. Plus, the risk of running into shitty times is worth the chance that you might get to have a picnic in the sunshine.
Oh, and also the family took me to Switzerland the next day.