October 14, 2009
The Daily Hell Vol. III - Bumsville.
Issue 25 – Change her? What’s wrong with her?
This past weekend, I went to Boston for my youngest brother’s 22nd birthday. The next day, my 25-year-old brother and I went to my parents house to visit with my 31-year-old brother and his almost 2-year-old daughter. This may seem like a convoluted way of explaining things, but I have a large family and things can get confusing if I’m not direct.
It was great getting to hang out with my niece though. I really enjoy being an uncle. I get to have all the fun without being a disciplinarian. I get to play games without having to do all the tasks her parents take care of like feeding, dressing, and changing her. Although, I am now learning, that it can sometimes be necessary to learn how to do those things when they interfere with the fun uncle stuff.
Avery and I share a room when we’re at my parents’ house at the same time. Her, because her crib is in there, and me because I’ve become addicted to her white noise machine, which I switch from “Waterfall” to “Tropical Rain Forest” when I come in to sleep.
The result of this unusual pairing of roommates is that I am the first to know when she wakes up, which is usually about 6:30 AM. I do my best to keep her distracted for a while to let the others sleep. We’ll read books or explore the quiet house or make a mess in her playroom, but eventually the topic of diapers comes up and I hit a wall.
She’ll walk over to her changing pad, lie down on it, and say, “I pooped, change diaper,” as if I am a real adult who would know how to do such things. Now, this could potentially be the embarrassing moment when I have to admit to my niece that I can’t perform the simplest of tasks, which she could probably instruct me in herself. But instead I wake up my brother, ending his extra half-hour of sleep.
We open the door to his room and Avery runs over to his bed, “Daddy!” I shuffle in after her, “Hey uh, she says she pooped, so I don’t know, do you want to…” I trail off, not sure how to ask or what I’m admitting about my uncling skills by passing the buck
“Well did you change her?” my brother clearly doesn’t understand that there is a problem here, so I just come out with it, “No, I’ve never done it before. Soooooooo… should I get Mom?”
In the almost two years since I’ve become an uncle, I have never changed a diaper, my niece’s or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s not that I am unwilling or physically unable to do so, but I’ve had limited opportunity to learn
On one of Avery’s first visits, maybe a month after she was born, my sister-in-law asked if I wanted to change her diaper. The glint in her eye was enough to tell me that this was something I should not agree to until I had seen it done by someone else. I said I would watch her do it, but didn’t think I was ready to actually change one on my own. So I watched her do it and I learned that infants do not merely crap, they explode.
After that, I really had no desire to learn anything diaper-related for a while. But no one ever asked me to help again anyway. Once she was out of her exploding infant stage, I would have liked to learn, experience that part of being an uncle. But then, wouldn’t it be weird of me to go around offering unsolicited diaper changes?
And it was never really an issue anyway, because there’s usually a parent or grandparent around to step in. Or if it was just me and her, I could feign ignorance and pretend that her look of quiet discomfort merely meant that she still hadn’t had her morning coffee, which was the reason I had the same look on my face. But now she can walk and talk so I can’t even do that anymore.
So now here I am, two years later and my blessing has become my curse. I don’t want to give my niece the impression that I’m incompetent or I think she’s gross. And I don’t want to stop hanging out with her until she’s potty trained. What would that be, like 5 or 6 years? I just need a little instruction, a little supervision- just someone to go tandem with me the first few times. That way, the next time we’re hanging out at 6 in the morning, I can let my poor exhausted brother sleep another 20 minutes until something else I don’t know about 2-year-olds comes up, and I need his help.