When people learn that my son was over 10 pounds at birth, they usually get this horrified and empathetic face about them. They speak consolatory words while inadvertently staring at my crotch. I never understood this because a push is a push. A hole is a hole, and a head is a head. But the public is nonetheless outraged on my vagina’s behalf.
Coincidentally, when I receive a birth announcement in the mail for a friend’s shrunken bundle of joy, I too am horrified and empathetic. I force long, weepy hugs and mumbled apologies for cruel misfortune onto new parents. I scan the Christian section, pick out a most heart-felt card, and fill it with consolatory words because surely an eight-pound baby is sick, and surely those parents are bravely smiling but secretly so upset about it.
When it comes to size, I’ve always loved that Thomas never felt fragile. I’m prone to breaking things. He was sturdy and ready for a football tackle immediately upon arrival. His brawn neck and solid trunk was womb-prepared for bench-pressing. With a fumbling, wall-to-face kind of mother, it comforted me to know that he could hold his own in a street fight at zero-months-old.
When people speak of their calm, obedient children, they usually have a tinge of bragging on their tongues. Much like their tiny baby situation, I feel a sadness for them. How boring! How mild! When friends visit for coffee and are ushered into Thomas’s twelfth round of Sit There, Shut Up & Let Me Whack You In The Face they seem slightly sorry for me, concerned with the chaos. His sass and grit, his “I can’t want to” and “Listen. Imma tell you how dis goes” personality is exactly the way I’d hoped he would be.
When it comes to attitude, I’ve relished in Thomas’s quirky self-assurance. More accurately (conceitedly), I’ve enjoyed raising another me. He’s been sure of what he wants or (more often) does not want since he could mold hefty, bronze No’s from liquid baby cries. He’s a thing of impact. He’s not a sparkle or a twinkle but a messy, miraculous three-part gas explosion. And I get to watch the fireworks because he’s been this ferocious force of will and weight since the earth looked up and said, “Alright. Come on”.
From high atop the silver shelter of my fluffy life, I’ve assumed I’m in the clear. But someone forgot to mention the old theory of black linings, good life ever-so-slightly kissed by the dark sometimes, too.
It was a trip to the store some weeks ago that spun the notion of “blessings from curses” into oblivion. Trembling before the base of a towering mountain of diapers, I stood small below the infinite shelves and knew suddenly and awfully how tiny a speck I am in this vast place. As I went to reach for a box of the largest size I spotted the weight limit printed in a cartoon cloud on box’s corner. Screeching brakes, thud of roadkill, dead cat resurrected to scratch claws against a chalkboard: it was a horrific scene.
“So, you’re about to be too big for diapers. Also, you’re already too big for them,” I casually mention to my boy. Inside I am cowering in a dim, scared corner of my soul.
“Um. No?,” he surely says.
“Well, but yes. Yes because you’re the size of a grown bear, and now that I think of it you’re also three, and now that I think of it more, you’re smart enough to solve 100-piece puzzles and sing Spanish with Dora, and now that I think of it the most, you’ve been holding out on me because I read on Wikipedia that peeing is at least 3 times easier than speaking Spanish.”
“But you’re a big boy, right? Like [ names of any and all kids I can think of], right? Diapers are for babies. Right?,” I am scrambling, digging heels and dragged inch-by-inch closer to truth I didn’t want to face.
“Ok. Mom. Wisten. I’s a baby. I’s not a big boy. I’s keepin’ in a diapers. Wisten. I. Keep. Muh. Diapers. OKAY?,” his voice grows angry as my neck grows hot. I see I think for the first time small, fuzzy hair coating the toddler’s arms. I’m all at once stunned to be raising this large, rebellious man.
I am dizzy and alone. The wall of wet-guard diapers melts and swirls and I realize all too late that my Sunday school teacher spent too much time describing pearly gates and golden pathways to Heaven, never drawing a map, no directions to the Devil. But here it is, the driveway to doom, the entry to a firy and furious place, a portal to Purgatory right there in the Baby Department of a Tennessee Target.
With a Sudden Death thirteenth round of his favorite game, my large and willful tot kicks me into a hole. I fall deep and down and down more still to cavernous bottom. I find Lindsay Lohan and some homeless, Hawaiian-shirted lottery winners there. I find a hard truth there in the black muck, too. Lohan shrugs and croaks her old raspy throat, “The blessing was a curse, eh?”.
A harsher girl emerges from this daydream. This Tuesday morning errand calloused me, weathered me with life’s hard facts like college… or prison. It is this one time that I accept the pity glances from those mothers of seven-pound zen-fants with their tiny bladders, less defiant demeanor. All his sass and size that I’ve long treasured betrays me now, and I know what I have to do.
It’s time to tame the beast.
It’s time to
stick it to potty train the Man Child.
Stay tuned for adventures of a big boy on a tiny toilet. Shit’s about to get real.