What goes around comes around…and out the sides

The scene: The Midwest, the suburbs, a two-story colonial, upstairs, a crib. Circa 1986.

The players: The dad, very little me.

The action: The mom says the almost-toddler-aged child is napping and should be down for the afternoon; she leaves the house. The garage door closes; a stench wafts down the stairs to the dad. The dad climbs stairs to find very little me standing in crib, coated in thick layer of my own forcefully expelled excrement. Am very pleased. Am covered from “hairline to between your toes” as the dad tells it for the next almost 30 years. Am deposited into tub and hosed liberally. All garments are disposed of. “Your time will come” also launched as favorite tagline henceforth.

Well, DAD.

The scene: Northern Virginia, the suburbs, a Kohl’s, a cart. June 2014.

The players: Me, the oyster, a cleaning lady with no English, 7 middle-aged women.

The action: We’re shopping for a brother-in-law’s birthday gift and the oyster begins emanating The Scent. Assuming it is a turd and can wait until we choose a tie, we continue shopping. Oyster is unperturbed. Tie chosen, we seek the bathroom for a diaper change. In front of guest services I park our cart and remove the oyster, discovering her to be covered from the armpits to the back of her legs in a soup of her own making. Spillage in cart. Oyster remains unperturbed. I carry her with stiff, outstretched arms into bathroom and flip down changing station panel with one superhero finger. I line changing station liberally with paper towel, which must be pumped from the STUPID DISPENSER one miniscule pump at a time. Four years later, I lay Oyster atop post-consumer padding and begin to strip all articles of clothing. Immediately upon contact with open air, patches of excrement dry onto skin–hers and mine–but Oyster is unperturbed. Now also naked. I have a spare diaper in my purse along with travel wipes, which reveal themselves to be but three in number. Wipes exhausted, toilet paper is required.

We turn now to our players:

Me: Do NOT move. Stay RIGHT there.  <frantically unrolls fistfuls of tp from nearest stall>
Oyster : La laa dee daa LAAA DAA PAPA!
Middle aged women 1 and 2: <stare, say nothing>
Me: Keep staying RIGHT THERE. <more tp>
Oyster: BAAAAA!! WOOF! WOOF! MEOWWW.
Middle aged women 3 and 4: <stand in my way as I try to exit the stall, while jabbering among themselves about who will go first into the handicap stall; hint: if you don’t move, it’s going to be both of you>
Me: <wets tp at sink, scrubs Oyster hind parts, tp falls apart in pills of poop-covered paper> DON’T MOVE. Good job NOT MOVING.
Oyster: MeeeoWWWW. PAPA. Baaaaa. MAMAMAMAMAMADADDY!
Me: No, Daddy’s not here. Alas for me.
<cleaning lady, who watched the whole thing, is now near me>
Me: Hi! Do you have some kind of regular paper towel, like kitchen paper towel? And a disinfectant spray? There’s poop in the cart we were using, out there, and I’d like to scrub it down. Do you have something I should use for that?
Cleaning lady: You want…I stand baby?
Me: I’m sorry?
Cleaning lady: Sorry, no English.
Me: Oh. Hrm. Ok, thanks.
Middle aged women 5, 6, and 7: <stand there as I explain, in vain, to the cleaning lady what I need, and then hustle themselves past; oh Virginia, if you were Michigan someone would have helped me by now>
Oyster: MAMA.
Me: Don’t move. <commences pumping paper towel .35 cm at a time; dampens paper towel in sink> I’m sorry about this, baby girl…
Oyster: Ow. Ohh ho ho oww. Mama.
Me: I know, I’m sorry. <scrubs>
Oyster: Blar blar WOOF WOOF MEOWWWW.

And so I scrubbed her poor bum and legs and back with imitation tree bark until all traces of the explosion were to be found only in the cart we had to tackle next. Fiercely pumping more of the STUPID SLOW CRUNCHY PAPER TOWEL into my waiting hand, I filled the nest with a blue foamy spray that looked like it may kill something, and paraded out of the bathroom with that, my naked child, and a determined look on my face. I scrubbed that cart until the paper towel went dry and to my everlasting surprise, no one from guest services said anything. Nothing about the smell of poop, or the naked child (she had sandals and a clean diaper, so not truly nakie, I guess), or the guest cleaning her own cart with industrial grade chemicals. Kind of feel like that’s a customer-service fail but I’m just the lady cleaning poop off another human, so ignore me. Please. Like everyone else who had two free hands and a set of eyeballs.

The Oyster and I zoomed to the toddler section as fast as that crappy (oh I do love a pun) cart would go and I threw my child into a plain top and bike shorts as fast as I could, leaving the tags on, lest anyone in the entire store suddenly notice what I was doing and confront me. At that point, I would have dared them.

<end scene>

So, DAD. Looks like my time did come at last. I just wish my time had come when we were at home and the bathtub nigh. And bummer for you that you didn’t have a blog when I ruined your day–and my crib sheet–in 1986. 😀

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About the frugal oyster

happy face

Any faithful follower of the Frugal Oyster Budget Challenge may have noticed that while we are doing extremely well with the numbers, a few things haven’t gone the way we originally intended. To wit:

1. Diapers
We planned to cloth diaper the little oyster until we realized how impractical that would be for our lifestyle. We don’t have in-unit laundry. We pay per load. We would have used disposable while traveling. Many day cares–which we were originally considering–and the little oyster’s aunt who was her nanny refuse to use them so ultimately our frugal tushy plans were waylaid and the oyster budget has included disposables. Saving grace: We have found that Target brand diapers are the best out there, and significantly less expensive than the name brands. (Oh, I was also seriously considering infant potty training. You can laugh. I am, now.)

2. A crib
We also weren’t planning to have a crib. With the little sister-nanny living with us we still have the little oyster in her Pack n Play in our bedroom  but we do have a crib. A family friend of the husband’s owned a baby furniture company and we were invited to choose a crib and changing table from the stock. It was an extremely generous gift and I’m grateful for it. As the husband pointed out to me once, just because we can go without it doesn’t mean we have to.

3. Nursing
I was planning to nurse exclusively for the first year. Instead the little oyster and I made it to six and a half months and decided that was enough. Truth bomb: It’s really hard to nurse exclusively when you’re working full time. Really really hard, even when every allowance is made in the work place. My building had private nursing rooms with hospital grade pumps and no one had any problem when I left twice a day to use them. After a few months of pumping at work and nursing at home, I wasn’t enjoying it so I decided to end on a high note. I weaned the little oyster one weekend and she has been formula-fed until recently, when we also introduced baby food.

4. Baby food
I had planned from the start to make my own. HAHAHA. Yeah, that never happened. She’s fine.

5. Child care
I went back to work when the oyster was 9 weeks old and the husband took a month of paternity leave. After that we needed someone to care for her while we both worked and the little sister was a willing and able party. She moved in with us in January and was the little oyster’s nanny until May. We paid her and I did not include that cost in the frugal oyster budget tally. Including child care costs puts the tally well over our $2,700 budget so instead of seeing the numbers and giving up on being frugal, I just didn’t include child care costs. Had I done so, with our particular situation, we’re still well under the minimum end of the average baby budget.

6. Nursery
Like I said, the little oyster has lived in our bedroom since January. We don’t do the family bed thing (shudder) and yes, it’s a bit of a tight fit but we more than manage. I love the little oyster’s bedroom and when she’s back in there, I will enjoy having that space again. Until then, it’s totally ok with us that our American child doesn’t have her own fabulously individual nursery, like so many Pinterest accounts would have one believe is absolutely crucial to the health and well-being of said child. A nursery is fun but by no means necessary. The nice thing about living around here is that a lot of people get that. I know a family that has twins and lives in a nice one-bedroom apartment. The twins have a cute crib in the living room. It works, Pinterest be damned.

7. Clothes
The little oyster, at 9 months old, is wearing 9 and 12 month sizes. Friends and family gave us clothing in staggered sizes, which has been nice and has kept this spending area low. Almost everything we have picked up for the oyster clothing-wise has been discretionary spending.

And there you have it. A small update on what hasn’t gone as planned in the frugal oyster budget and why. Still, we’re trucking right along.