“Uuhhh, Jeff?” I asked my brother pointedly, “Do you know that your kid’s got his pajamas on backward?”
I dunno; it didn’t seem like a completely stupid question at the time even though my kids wear crap backward all the time. Like hats. And pants. And pajamas. And attitudes. And actual crap.
And it’s not that I care that stuff’s on backward. Anyone who’s spent 25 minutes with my family knows that.
It’s just that my brother and his wife are more fastidious than me. More organized. More disciplined. More apt to, you know, have kids who stay in their chairs while they eat and pick up their toys and keep their boogers to themselves. They’re just… nice, polite kids, and Jeff and Kim are… consistent, disciplined parents. Which is annoying, but what can you do?
In short, I have certain expectations of Jeff and Kim, and kids wearing pajamas backward isn’t one of them. (Psst… let this be a lesson to those of you who teach your kids manners and good behavior more often than just remedially; people will expect you to keep it up.)
Kim, though, had foot surgery a few days ago, and she’s been laid up in bed with waves of pain and narcotics ever since, leaving Jeff to manage the household on his own. “The household” equals three kids aged three and under, which neatly explains Jeff’s pilfering of her narcotics and washing them down with smuggled moonshine. (I KID. Everyone knows that stolen narcotics should never be taken at the same time as contraband liquor. Sheesh.) When I saw the backward jammies, I thought that, maybe, without the mama there to ensure the following of the rules, Jeff had become a tad lax. A bit lazy. A touch less like his wife and more like his sister.
And, in true Big Sister fashion, I thought it my duty to point out my brother’s shortcomings. Some like to call this Rubbing It In. I like to call it Gettin’ My Judgy On.
“Uuhhh, Jeff?” I asked my brother pointedly and maybe a little smugly, “Do you know that your kid’s got his pajamas on backward?”
And Jeff replied that, yes, in fact, he did know, and also that the pajamas were backward on purpose, and also that the zipper could hardly zip itself up the kid’s back so, um, doy, and also lots of stuff about “POOP, Beth. It’s because of all the POOP and the smearing of the POOP and the playing in the POOP and the general affinity of a two-year-old boy for his super cool POOP.”
OH! Whoops; I really shoulda known. I mean, come on. Have five kids taught me nothing? Did I forget the toddler years so quickly? I really should have known.
In the writing of this, I couldn’t remember exactly what Jeff said (although all of the “POOP, Beth” moments were sweetly reminiscent of our myriad childhood heart-to-heart conversations if you add “you’re a” before the word “POOP,” and the word “head” right after it), so I asked for Jeff’s help with the remainder of this blog post. I thought it might be instructive.
So, without further ado, here’s the part of the post where Jeff explains the method behind the backward madness and also makes his sister proud by intuitively understanding that there are times when POOP simply must be capitalized (that’s right, Jeffy – that’s right) :
Our middle child (faithful to his gender) insists on getting his hands down his pants at any opportunity possible. He doesn’t allow minor nuisances to dissuade him, such as, oh I don’t know… the presence of POOP. In fact, if anything, the poop seems to remind him that there are happenings down there. There’s stuff going on. Stuff I WANT MY HANDS ON. Poop has taught him how to undo clasps, unbutton buttons and unzip zippers.
If only poop could teach him something productive. Like doing the dishes. Or mowing the lawn. (Come on, Poop. Help me out!)
And so, after the 3rd morning IN A ROW of having to clean up a nice, even coating of poop spread all over the child and his room, desperation set in. We thought about safety pins, but once poop teaches him to open them, there will be nothing “safe” about them.
My solution was going to involve a system of strategically interlaced zip ties (…oh, it would have worked…), but luckily, my wife is smarter than I am. She asked a simple question: “Can he reach a zipper running down his back?”
No. No he can’t.
Take that, POOP.
And that, friends, is how Backward became the new Forward.
Which seems like an appropriate development in parenting where Night is the new Day.
And Dirty is the new Clean.
And “Dear God, what happened to my life?” is the new Five Year Plan.
Take that, POOP.
Beth (and Jeff)