of goo and other supreme challenges

The seeds of disaster were sown weeks ago when the health office recommended a new nappy creme for Harriet’s rash. I think its creator was thrice champion in the categories of World’s Thickest, World’s Greasiest, and World’s Pastiest. The stuff smells like a cross between baby powder and bad floral perfume and goes on like cold Crisco. I distinctly remember, after using it the first time, plopping the can back in the nappy basket while idly wondering how long it would be before it would figure in a gut-wrenching domestic drama. That was on December 8. The weeks went by, Norah left it alone, life was good. {Hollow laughter}

I like to view each day of mothering Littles as holding one supreme challenge to self-control. When we had the second potty accident before 9 a.m. (occurring on the rug Mommy made from old T-shirts), I was {mistakenly} convinced the moment had come. Having spectacularly failed said challenge, I asked God in the shower to help me learn self-control. I assumed we were going to start tomorrow. (Do not pray this.)

The rest-time rules at our house are basic. Norah is to stay in her room and play toys until it is time to get up. This is the rule we began with. Since then, as the occasions have arisen, the following have been added: (1) No building climbing structures out of furniture (2) No poking objects into the heater (3) No removing one’s diaper or accessing its contents in any way (4) No “cleaning” Any.Thing. with baby wipes or attempting to diaper anything (5) No ripping the heater off the wall (6) No tearing holes in the monkey and making snowstorms with his stuffing (7) No dismantling or attempting to dismantle the lamp (8) No lugging the mattress off one’s bed or the drawers from one’s bureau and (9) No faking injuries to Get Mommy to Come. Seems fairly straightforward, right?

Norah was chattering sweetly to herself and her dollies for about an hour in there today. Then I heard her door open. (?!?!) I walked over. She had stripped herself, including diaper, and re-garbed in a red Patriots tee and striped yellow leggings. She handed me her wet diaper, saying cheerfully, “Yook! I’m wearing Patriots! Where’s Daddy? I’m wearing your Patriots, Daddy!” Then I noticed her hair was matted to her head in stiff cords with a sort of grayish tinge to them. I inhaled slowly and pushed the door the rest of the way open. Heavy fumes of that nasty cloying floral scent assaulted my nose, and my eyes began to water. The bed and the bureau were strewn with stuffed animals who had been treated assiduously for nappy rash. I found the empty can under her pillow. Clumps of it stuck to her duvet cover, the wall, discarded items of clothing, rug . . . thick greasy white paste . . . wipes stewn about . . . one little furry gorilla wrapped completely in wipes, stuck on with a sludge of paste . . . even the dear old sock monkey. (In her defense, his bottom IS bright red. So is his face, which was also treated.) I was wrong in those hazy early morning hours. This was today’s supreme challenge. I must have graduated to a new level. (Someone has!)

I met the challenge. Perhaps not quite unflappable, but certainly I kept calm and carried on, muttering to myself what half of you are thinking of writing in the comments, “Someday this will be funny.” Disciplinary measures followed by two loads of laundry and a bubble bath with three shampoos. Then meticulously scrubbing unwashable animals with wipes, including one little dolly Norah recently received for her birthday and instantly christened “Baby Save.” We thought it was an odd name at the time. We now know it was prophetic. I worked long and hard today to save Save. It is perhaps more interesting if you know that Baby Save’s manufacturer named her “Baby Kiss-Kiss” and she, when her tummy is squeezed, emits an electronic smooching noise not unlike a distant machine-gun. I sat there, scrubbing her hard with wipes, while she fired ecstatic grateful kisses at me in return. “Oh, thank you, Mommy, Baby Save is kissing you! Mommy Baby Save loves you SOOO much for cleaning her!” 

Forget someday, this is funny now.

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11 Responses to of goo and other supreme challenges

  1. Haley says:

    Oh Betsy! This is too funny! And I love that I can imagine every last bit of it now having seen “your world.”

  2. Lisa Ross says:

    Oh Betsy, Even with six kids I never faced a challenge like you just did. I’m sorry you had to go through this but am so glad you did so well with the Lord’s help. I’m also thankful you can laugh already. Miss you guys and hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

  3. Janet says:

    How descriptive! I felt that I was right with you. “Nap time” can be a mine field with a creative non-sleeper! How do Moms do this without the Lord?
    Humor is such a divine gift! (And it becomes more and more important as they hit the teen years!!! :0) ) Thank you for your witness and for the laugh!!

  4. Madeline says:

    I just finished “The Coming of Bill” by P.G. Wodehouse (the story of his I’ve most enjoyed–got at me a bit deeper than his other funny but fluffy novels), and this post was worthy of him. Lucidity of prose, vividity of description, Britishness of expression, and, of course, quippy humor.
    Also, lest I seem to have overstepped human feeling for literary criticism–my sympathy.

    Oh dear. I am what I read… 🙂
    Happy New Year!

    • betsy says:

      I love Wodehouse, Madeline. In the realm of farce and “quippy humor” (nice phrase, you) he is unsurpassed. Thanks for the compliment–and a very merry New Year to you!

  5. Lana Teeters says:

    I have been there and now love the memories of what at the time was a horrendous and overwhelming mess! Still, each incident is a learning lesson, not just for the child either! Ha! I am glad that you shared this story! I remember you as a small, independent little girl who HAD to have real baby powder on her dolly’s bottom even though your Dad pretended to put it on. You were adamant that his way was not enough and low and behold, somehow you figured how to undo the top of the container and there was then a cloud of white dust all over everything!!! We never forgot that as it was so funny! I guess what goes around comes around! Ha! Love, Aunt Lana in Atlanta

  6. Sam Cohen says:

    This is hilarious, Betsy. And you tell it so well!

    Incidentally, (and I know this isn’t anywhere near the point of your post), Sophia had really bad nappy rash as a baby and I found the only thing that helped was cornflour (cornstarch or whatever it’s called here).

  7. Juli says:

    Sorry, that was meant to be me, Juli. Stupid auto log-in…

  8. Pingback: of the elusive ladder of self-control | part of the main

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