It’s the shout heard ‘round the house. The one that makes my skin crawl, not because I don’t wanna help a Jellybean in distress, but rather because … well … I just don’t want to do it.
“DAD-E-E-E-E-E! Can you come and wipe me?”
Honestly, I thought after we got the child potty-trained I’d stop having such intimate encounters with another person’s poo. Nope, soon as her work is done, I hear Jellybean call out with the desperation of someone yelling “Shark” at the beach. And I’m about as excited for what comes next as those unfortunate swimmers are with sharing the water with a man-eater.
Wiping the bottom of another is a skill I simply do not possess – thankfully. I drag my knuckles in toilet water every single time, and that’s just not healthy (not to mention the fact that, since sharing this personal anecdote with my family, nobody will shake my hand).
The point is – at 4 years old, Jellybean is more than physically capable of cleaning her own bottom. But just because she can, that doesn’t mean she should. This is the golden rule for many of the annoying chores My Lovely Wife and I continue to perform for Jellybean.
The same rule used to apply to The Diva as well, but at 15, we grew wise to her ruse. Sure she “accidentally” forgot to put a new liner in the trash can after taking the trash out – leading to my dumping old coffee grounds into an unprotected garbage can – or she missed almost all the dirt and grime when cleaning her own bathroom, but she actually knows better and just doesn’t want to be helpful (she’s also real smart).
With Jellybean, it’s a little more complicated.
Sure can brush her own teeth, but she doesn’t do it especially well, leaving her teeth and breath mighty funky despite wasting a full tube of toothpaste and leaving a trail of puddles all over the bathroom floor.
So we brush her teeth to ensure she’s not the only girl in pre-K with dentures.
Jellybean picks up her own toys. She chooses her clothes for the day (allowing for multiple morning “options” from which to choose). She’s great at the grocery store and picking out her own bedtime books. She can now use scissors … and we’ve got chopped up, unread magazines to prove it.
She desperately wants to help her mom cook, but is usually satisfied simply licking the beater or stirring something unlikely to stain her clothes or melt the skin from her bones. And she’s very helpful when it comes to soothing the dogs during bath time.
But when it comes to doing her business in the bathroom, it’s generally a Jellybean-Free Zone – save for the role the biology and Mother Nature’s call plays in the flow of things.
She doesn’t wipe well and almost always forgets to flush. The later being the reason that on those special occasions when she does go alone we usher her into her sister’s bathroom where an unflushed toilet is but one of the gross things lurking in the closed-door darkness. Plus the child, who is inscrutable when it comes to washing hands, wastes more water than synchronized swimming as an Olympic sport.
I know that when she’s all grown up, there are many things about raising Jellybean that I’ll look back on fondly. But her screams of “DAD-E-E-E-E! Can you wipe me? “won’t make the list.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.