Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's the Diaper Countdown

How many diapers do I have left?

The other night driving home my mind wandered out to the edges, and I asked myself that question. Given our careful planning of each pregnancy to ensure a constant monthly diaper expense seven years and counting, but with a full-fledged toddler intimating a need for advanced potty-training, ("I poot on the FLOOR!")  misty eyes started looking ahead to the cleanest, most humane of childhood milestones...potty training the last child.

I think I have thirteen diapers left to change in my lifetime.

The calculation is simple but not frivolous. We are aiming to train our youngest to go on the can by mid-August, by forcing him to wear underpants that cause all sorts of uncomfortable leakage issues if he goes anywhere but the potty. That's seven weeks from now. At an average of 1.5 diapers per week, plus allowing for 2-3 emergency diapers, and given my expectation of becoming that uncle/friend/"uncle"/grandfather who will hold a baby quite literally all day until the moment they fill their pants, then, scurrying, hold the baby out with arms extended as if holding a radioactive, exploding bag of crap, (which it is) I will present the baby to his parents:  "I think this is yours."

(The difference between uncle and "uncle" should be fairly intuitive. An uncle is family, your parent's brother or brother-in-law. An "uncle", then, is someone of no relation but who is so close to your parents that he deserves an honorary title, especially when he's letting you eat ice cream for breakfast and use his couch cushions as wrestling props...essentially the older brother you never had... way, WAY older, which is why he was never your older brother.)

HOLD ON. Someone in the crowd wonders, where does this guy get off changing 1.5 diapers per week? Either his kid has a life-threatening constipation issue or someone's got a case of the lazies. Deadbeat dad alert! This guy can't be bothered to change his kid's diaper but one-n-a-half times a week...

It comes down to choices. Not that I choose to let my child sit in his own filth, though he still seems cool with that. But, as she does with her kindergarten kids daily, my wife "empowers" me by allowing me to make my own decisions. "I'll change that diaper if you clean the kitchen floor..." "I'll change the kid's diaper if you pick up the basement..." "Would you rather change his diaper or stay on hold with the cable company?"

I still fall for it every time. Every single time. The "other" alternative, seemingly benign, has a hidden undercurrent of "fail" to it that makes a simple rotting diaper the least of the family's concerns. That kitchen floor? We had rice tonight. Gotta pick every one up, including the 3,000 that get stuck in the broom. The basement? Nobody told me they re-enacted the Boston Juice Box Party all over the couch. The cable company? Shoulda seen that one coming.

And once you make your choice, you're stuck with it. If you try to opt out, offer to stick your whole head inside the offending diaper for the right to change your mind, it is over. "You made your choice." The "and now you'll live with the consequences" is just sort of understood. There is little more deflating than realizing your misery is the result of your own choices. Kindergarten class of 2014-15, beware.

But besides all of that, there may appear to be a monetary benefit to this. The penny-pinching, corporate type in me wants badly to estimate how much money we have spent on diapers over the years, then compare that number to the price of a pretentious, douchey, over-priced car. There won't be any real savings anyway, because the money not spent on diapers will surely be spent on something else kid-related, like Frozen Dance Camp.

Frozen Dance Camp sounds like cheap fish sticks but is actually a week-long summer event based off of an obscure Disney movie that you're probably only vaguely familiar with. Frozen Dance Camp came to us by accident in a series of events so involved that the average length of the "Long Story Short" version is still three minutes and 26 seconds. By the end of this week, the participants, which include my daughter, will have created a Tour de Force of Frozen je ne sais quoi that, given their immersion with the subject matter, could match any of my daughter's former dance studio's annual output. Just not sure that it will be in French.

But that's for another time. Our diaper days are numbered and that makes my wife sad, because it's soon another milestone behind us. Maybe one last messy diaper for the baby book. But it makes me sad, too, because at least I knew when my kids were crapping in their pants instead of the toilet, we could be reasonably assured someone was then wiping their butts.

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