A Father’s Doody

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profile picture of Jon Finkel
January 30, 2017
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Gross headline, I know, but it’s not what you think. This article has nothing to do with my personal bathroom habits. It actually has nothing to do with bathrooms at all, come to think of it. But it does have to do with, well, doo — and our level of familiarity with it that becomes so nonchalant after a few months of parenthood that it’s almost disturbing.

Prior to having a child, if I accidentally got poop on either of my hands in any way, my number one priority at that moment was to, not surprisingly, immediately wash the poop off. You carry this natural habit over with you into your first month or so of parenthood, but you soon realize that it’s simply not feasible. When an ill-fitting diaper meets a jam-packed baby colon, a perfect storm of poo ensues, and there’s almost no way to clean up the biohazard without getting down and dirty. If you stopped to wash off every time you got a smear or smattering of your kid’s present on your hand or arm, changing a diaper would take a half hour.

This isn’t to say that you’ll end up walking around all morning looking like a brown Jackson Pollock painting, it’s just to say that you probably only wash yourself off with soap and water well after your child has been changed, dressed and placed somewhere safe for the moment. Those are three things that you did with poop on you and you didn’t bat an eyelash.

Me? Poop’s never phased me. I lived in a fraternity house in college with plumbing that may or may not have worked for much of my time in residence. And I’ve never understood squeamishness when it came to changing dirty diapers. Yes, they don’t smell like a perfectly smoked bratwurst at a tailgate, but they’re not going to kill you.

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In fact, nearly every day, before I go to work, the first three things I do involve number twos (and no, I’m still not referring to my own). I change my daughter (almost always wakes up with a fresh one), put her in the stroller to walk my Labrador (never fails to have something cooking for me to deposit on a neighbor’s lawn) and on some days, even though I loathe having a cat, I change the litter for my wife because I’m a tremendous husband. That means I handle feces from three different species each morning before the “single” version of me would have even gotten out of bed.

Does it bother me? I guess I’d rather not start my day picking up different deuces from different animals and putting them in different bags for disposal, but it’s part of my routine now. One day, when the cat’s gone (it’s pretty old, so soon) and the kid’s potty trained, it’ll be back to just me and my dog and his one single bag full of bowel movement. At that point, I won’t miss the trio of turds I start my days with now, but I’ll look back and know that I performed my doody duty with honor and distinction.

What has surprised you most about life as a new parent?

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