It was monsoon season in our house recently. Each night for a few weeks the Minor would produce such a robust gush that his nappy would be unable to contain it. And he would wake up in a little wet mess. To his credit he would not be downcast by this accident. In fact it was on these mornings that he was at his most energetic and wriggly. If I was not careful he would squirm from my grasp and roll across various bits of soft furnishings, spreading his wee scent like a musky fox. There are probably parts of my house that are still covered in historical piss. There may even be bits on me I’ve missed with the shower loofah.
It seemed that his nappy could not cope with the volume created by his blockbusting bladder. Which left us with a problem. For a few nights we changed him in a middle of the night – a pit stop to keep him dry – but it was not sustainable because the inevitable kerfuffle stirred him awake. My wife then took the decision to change our nappy provider.
From the first day of parenthood we used Pampers. Pampers was there to catch the very first poo. When I went to buy nappies all I saw was Pampers. Nappies, Pampers. Pampers, nappies. It never really occurred to me that there was any other brand. We walked dreamily into Pampers and Pampers welcomed us presumptuously with open flaps.
I did not challenge Pampers until the time that its nappies began to fail us. At that point we began to flutter our eyelids at alternative nappy manufacturers. We eventually plumped for one from Lidl called Toujours, supplied as part of Lidl’s unswerving commitment to weird-sounding continental brands. On the backside of the nappy are printed the words “made with love”, which presumably refers to the nappy itself as opposed to any future contents. Perhaps in the nappy factories of Europe there are operatives lovingly placing individual piss-crystals in each gusset, a bit like Rowan Atkinson preparing Alan Rickman’s gift-bag in Love Actually.
The reality is that the Toujours nappy feels a little less luxurious than the Pampers nappy. A little less pampering I guess. It has a slightly crinkly feel like the bog roll from a 1980s school. But the ultimate test for a nappy is whether it can handle the storm of pee rained down on it on a nightly basis. In this aspect the Toujours nappy pisses all over the Pampers one, to use a deliberately unfortunate metaphor.
So it’s taken us four years of parenting to work out that Pampers wasn’t the best choice of nappies for our children. The Minor has begun to request that we hold him over the toilet for his evacuations so it may be that our need for nappies is coming to an end. Just when we’d finally worked it all out.
I was not paid by Lidl for this post. I just think that their nappies are better than Pampers.
Things came to a minor head with the Major earlier this week. He was sat on the bathroom toilet as I got home from work and poked my head through the door. He told me to leave and get in the bin. I asked him which bin and he replied the kitchen bin. This was clearly absurd. The kitchen bin is far too small for me to get into. I offered him the choice of one of the three outside bins: garden, recycling or normal. Clearly he plumped for the normal bin, the one with the fetid pool of bin juice at its base and the recent bluebottle infestation.
So I tramped downstairs and opened and shut the front door so that he could hear it. Then I went and hid under the staircase. I listened out as he padded along the landing into our bedroom to look out of the front window at the bin which he now imagined to be containing his father. And as I cowered under the stairs while he frantically pleaded with his mum to retrieve me from the bin I couldn’t help but think that something had gone wrong with my parenting strategy.
There are mitigating circumstances. From the moment that he found his voice the Major has subjected me to a verbal battery of taunts which he has fired at me on a regular basis. If our house had an HR department then I would have lodged a formal complaint in the hope that disciplinary proceedings would be initiated.
Most of abuse happens in the few hours after I’ve returned from the office and before he has fallen asleep, when the air is simmering with a toxic blend of resentment and fatigue. It began with a simple “no, Dadu” repeated like a mantra, but has evolved with the improvements in his vocabulary. In the last week alone the tirades have ranged from the knockabout (“you silly old sod”) to the metaphysical (“Daddy, you’re like a bad dream”). Once I heard him beg his mother not to leave the room so as not to be left alone with me.
We’ve always been able to rationalise the manner in which he singles me out by pointing to the fact that he recognises the paternal neediness in me and mischievously plays on it. But the other day I eavesdropped on a conversation that the Major had with his mum during which he calmly explained that he did not want to play with me, the reasons for which appeared to be that I smelt. I actually smell really nice.
My reaction to the constant bombardment is always powerful amusement. But the lack of cooperation that it is aligned to is dispiriting. The bin charade was a result of weariness and resignation, a culmination. It was not part of a coherent plan, it was my normal ‘seat-of-the-pants’ parenting.
But the ‘bincident’ was also a watershed. Since that evening the Major has adopted a more affable approach. It seems that in effect I have guilt-tripped him into liking me, and I achieved this by filling his little head with dark images of me hunkering down among the soiled nappies and maggots at the bottom of a bin. It’s obviously not how I planned it but for the last few days the Major has embraced me, literally and figuratively. Children. You just never know.