Dear Dave

Saturday 14 April 2007

In memory of the changing unit

Dear Dave,

The changing unit has gone.

No, I'm sorry, you're going to have to be more impressed than that. I'll write it again. The changing unit has gone. I hope you clapped politely that time. (Count yourself lucky - if you were American I would have to insist on you punching the air while making a loud whooping sound).

A chapter has ended. I've been changing nappies on that unit almost every day for seven years. That's a lot of nappies. Three children for two and a half years each. Assuming an average of six nappies a day per child, that's over 16,000 nappies. That's a lot of nappies. OK, I didn't change all of them, but I changed a heck of a lot of them. At least 12,000, I'd say. That's still a lot of nappies.

Thinking back, it seems like only yesterday I first placed Fraser on that changing unit and gingerly investigated the small swamp he had wrapped round his nether-regions. So many memories! How about the time I was in the middle of dealing with him and heard a tinkling noise six feet away on the other side of the room but spent several seconds wondering like an idiot what it might be? Or the time he peed in his own ear (and he cried when I laughed)? Or the time Lewis spewed forth copious liquid evil from his backside that went everywhere (and he laughed when I cried)?

Ah, happy times...

You've probably blanked a lot of the messiest moments of your own experience from your mind but, with a baby on the way, they're all going to come back to you pretty soon. I remember, in the early days of being a new parent, talking a great deal about the contents of nappies. Fraser would produce and then Sarah and I and any unfortunate visitors would gather round and peer closely, trying to discern his health from the splatter. It was like reading tealeaves. ("Ah, yes, I see much tribulation in your future, young man. You will meet a tall, dark stranger. Then you will poo on him.")

Second time around, things are much more everyday. You know what to expect.

The first week is the worst. For some reason babies come supplied full of tar which they exude through their bottoms for several days. What's with that? Then comes fudge sauce followed by chicken tikka masala. It eventually settles down to something fairly normal on a good day and end-of-term stew on a bad one.

End-of-term stew is the final meal made by hard-up students before going home for the holidays. Everyone clears out their cupboard and bungs the remaining contents in a pot. Typical ingredients include peas, corn, Shredded Wheat, a hairclip, four crushed breadsticks, half a sausage, seventeen pence in loose change and some raisins. Grated seaweed is added for that extra special aroma and then the whole lot is boiled up in thick gravy. Strangely, the results are less than appetising and the students sneak round to my house and dispose of the slimy mess down the back of a nappy. This is why my children have often been seen waddling around with a surprised look on their faces just before Christmas and Easter.

Well, that's all behind me now. There will still be accidents to be dealt with and I daresay I'll be wiping Marie's bottom for another couple of years but hopefully my days of wrestling a stinky toddler are over. There'll be no more need for nursery rhymes to stop them kicking me in the face. (It used to be I could get the kids to calm down by singing to them. Now the only thing which works is promising to stop singing). We're moving on...

The changing unit.
The changing unit. RIP.

A friend and his mate came round today to take the changing unit away. It has a good home to go to but I found myself oddly sad to see it leave. They lifted it up, revealing dents worn in the carpet, and a tear welled in my eye. It had served me faithfully and seen me through many unfortunate crises. As they carried it out the door, I patted it goodbye and watched it taken out of my life forever.

Then I went and washed my hands.


Yours in a woman's world,


PS I'll stop going on about bodily waste now...


Anonymous said...

Dear Ed and Dave,
I remember the days of nappies and cartoons and nursery and stuff... I remember when I always knew where my children were.... nowadays I know where they live! My little boys are all grown up but I find reading all about other children is really, really funny.
I waved goodbye to changing tables a decade or so ago. Here is a quick run-down of what to look forward to next:
first broken limb (you might have experienced this already!) for us it was a nose (is a nose a limb? hmm...) 2 year old noses only have a teeny tiny amount of bone but when it comes to 8 year olds, tipper trucks and small brothers... the teeny tiny bit of bone came into contact with the step at the edge of the patio when it hit the curb at top speed... and the teeny tiny bone broke!

I'll fast forward through the other bones, joints, ears, infectiosn etc to when you get one old enough to say "I'm off" in this case to Australia to explore - all went well, we knew this because he never called, or emailed or wrote.
The day he phoned we knew things were bad - the good news is I'm ok, began the conversation. The bad news is I dislocated my shoulder in the bush and had to put it back myself. Then I hitched to a hospital and they bound me up and now I'm feeling really, really great... they gave me some nice pills! Oh the agony of the boy being too far away for a good clip round the ear! And the frustration of not being able to check out the injury for myself.
mind you I got revenge - waiting at the airport to pick him up, 363 days after seeing him off, I wept loudly (the father and brothers all sank into the background) at every person who came off the flight ahead of the returning boy... and he had the grace not to be too embarrassed as I wailed in joy!


The Rev Mum

DadsDinner said...

No broken bones yet but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. (It might be one of mine, though, the way the girl keeps leaving wheeled toys where I'm least expecting them).