"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Monday, March 18, 2013

I am not a grown-up.

March 18, 2013 - 8:00AM

I am not a grown-up.

I know this because today I have been entrusted with a very grown-up activity (a.k.a. the care and well-being of an almost-three-year-old by myself for two days while her parents are at the hospital having baby #2) and while the almost-three-year-old (referred to as 'D' from this point on) is at daycare, I am sitting on the couch having a mild panic attack over the possibility of later having to change a poopy diaper.  I know that D is in the middle of the wild world of potty training, but I also know that accidents still happen and... confession time... I have never actually changed a poopy diaper by myself.  Even that is an almost lie because the times when I WAS involved in a poopy diaper scenario, I merely stared in horror, gagged, or handed the capable grown-up in charge various tools and instruments, much like a nurse in an old movie.  A nurse who gagged at the sight of a little poo.

"How can something so small create so much of something so disgusting?"
- Steve Guttenberg in Three Men and a Baby

The fear-of-the-poopy-diaper actually started this morning at 5:00AM when I first got the call up to the big time.  So I already knew, as I was driving to my friend's house in the dark three hours ago, that I was not a grown-up.  But I was reminded yet again during the car ride to take D to daycare.  (Don't worry, her dad put the car seat in for me, so D is perfectly safe.  And it's a good thing too because it took a long time and looked really difficult and he was all huffy and puffy afterwards, so I don't think I could have done it.  More proof that I am not a grown up.)

Totally clueless.

D was talking to me from the backseat and although I can finally understand the words she uses, they still don't always make a lot of sense.  For instance, here are some snippets from our conversations.

Me-- "I've never seen your daycare, D.  You'll have to show me around!"
D-- "Starburst."
Me-- "Starburst?"
D-- (nods)
Me-- "Hmm.  Yes, starburst..."
(Later, when we arrived at daycare, I learned that D is in the “Starburst” class.  Ohhhh.  Starburst.)

D-- "I need to change clothes."
Me-- (picturing poo or pee in the backseat of my car) "What?!  You need to change clothes?  What happened?!"
D-- "I played in the creek."
Me-- (calming a bit) "Oh, you played in a creek and got your clothes wet and had to change?"
D-- (nods)
Me—“Ok.  Whew.  Good story, D!”

This is how things went.  So, a few minutes later when D said, "Oh!  A spider," I thought she was simply sharing another story with me, or maybe quoting a favorite book.  I said, "A spider?" and D said, "Yeah!" with a happy squeal.  I turned around, waiting for the unrelated-to-anything-happening-in-the-car comment to make sense, and there, hanging from a web attached to the ceiling of my car, was a spider the size of a dime dangling just outside of D's reach.  I know this because she was reaching for it.  And smiling.  I, on the other hand, was trying to keep myself from jumping out of the moving vehicle.  I managed to turn my scream/gasp into a laugh/cough and said things like "Oh wow" and "Look at that" while in my head I was screeching "OH MY GOD THERE IS A SPIDER IN MY CAR!!!" 

(Not a photo of the actual spider.)
Then D said, "It's on the window."  I looked and it was, it was there on the window.  I said, "Let's put down the window and set it free!" and I powered down the window halfway.  The spider retreated in the opposite direction.  D said, "He doesn't want to go out.  Put it back up."  I put it back up.  Then, noticing we were early for daycare anyway, I pulled onto a side street, stopped, and found a tissue and some bravery. 

D-- "Where's daycare?"
Me-- "We'll go to daycare in a minute.  I'm going to get the spider and set him free!"
D-- "He's gone."
Me-- "Gone???"
D-- "He crawled away.  He's FREE!" (throws up her hands in victory)

I looked and she was right.  He was gone.  But since none of the windows were open, his freedom was limited to the inside of my car.  We drove on to daycare, D smiling, me shaking slightly and looking over my shoulder a lot.

It is 8:00AM.  I have been up for three hours and desperately need a nap.  But I can't sleep.  Because while my dear friend is in a hospital room painfully bringing another human being into the world, I am sitting on her couch trying to figure out what terrifies me more-- the threat of a poopy diaper, or the spider lurking somewhere in my car.

I am not a grown-up.


  1. what a crack up. you capture D. perfectly!

    i think what makes you a grown up is that you returned and picked her up from daycare later, scared or not. and that you got back in your car again later, even though there was a spider. it's not that we aren't afraid, but that we keep on going in spite of our fears. maybe kids help us see that we should be less afraid? and help us remember to laugh along the way, as you show here so admirably. oh, the poop! oh, the spiders! what a day! thanks for sharing this story.


  2. Thanks, A! Yes, I did indeed survive. There was a poopy diaper after all and I conquered it. The spider's whereabouts are still unknown. I like to think that it escaped the car and is living happily in a flower pot in central Austin, but part of me still fears it laid eggs in my headrest. But I am alive and happy and D is alive and happy and we start another day together tomorrow. Three-year-olds are wondrous things.