The morning began like any other. I woke to the pitter patter of dachshund paws clicking against the wood floors, a signal that Stewie and Emma were excited for me to wake. The plan was to greet them as I normally do and expeditiously prepare their first meal of the day. Miles, who is sometimes already up during this time, was stirring so I made a detour.
As I approached Miles’ door I noticed something strange. I could faintly hear him repeating a phrase with increasing clarity and emphasis as I continued forward. He wasn't jumping up and down excitedly and screaming like a banshee. Instead, he stood still looking at me and back at his hands. As I inched closer to him the phrase he had been repeating was now being directed at me, only in the form of a question. “Poo hands?”
The smile on my face melted away, instantly replaced by clenched teeth. My eyes rapidly scanned his hands, the blankets, the sheets and crib railing for signs of feces. In the next second, the answer to the question became clear. With his head tilted, he took both hands, shoved them into his diaper and procured a fresh sample for me to analyze. “Poo hands!” he declared. Already in a state of shock and befuddlement, I was frozen stiff. He pounced on the opportunity to wave his fingers directly in front of my face, nearly touching it. The smell immediately assaulted my passageways and heightened my other senses. Time seemed to stand still while I became painstakingly aware of the cool, wood floor numbing my cold feet. The loud whoosh of air from the vents in conjunction with the white noise machine isolated us from the rest of the household, leaving me to deal with this personal nightmare alone. I looked back to Miles and his wry smile revealed a hint of guilt. We locked eyes and I watched the guilt fade. In an instant, it was replaced with pleasure and satisfaction for having “got” me, this conveyed through his mischievous snaggle toothed grin.
This concept of “sharing” one’s feces was not new to me. The events of the morning immediately brought me back to an article I came across months ago about a homeless man who decided to pour a gratuitous amount of his stored feces onto an unsuspecting woman as she was getting into her car. “It was diarrhea. Hot liquid. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes.” This poor woman was clearly unable to defend herself against the homeless man and his fecal matter. However, parents with infants and toddlers are afforded the chance to keep their hands clean and poo-free during each and every diaper change. All they have to do is wear disposable gloves!
I’ve been laughed at, mocked for being the guy who changes diapers with gloves on, given second looks for taking out my gloves while pumping gas. But who’s laughing now? COVID-19 has descended on us and now the entire world understands to a better degree what benefits there are to glean from stringent hygiene practices. I’ll be interested to see how society transitions back to normal after this pandemic dies down. Will there be a new version of normal or will it take another pandemic arising to prompt second thoughts around hygiene?