I like to take care of potential danger and inconvenience by worrying them away, crushing them under the weight of my crippling anxiety. And so it was that no doubt because of my fretting and hand-wringing that our plane from Detroit to Kansas City did, in fact, get off the ground, and did not, in fact, suffer from constant turbulence. As we glided to a slightly shaky landing, I heaved a sigh of relief that would have been audible had we not been seated in row 25, right next to the engines. The plus side of the constant shouting-level white noise was that it drowned out the sounds of my shrieking children. Just kidding--they were wonderful and quiet and well behaved. All thanks to my fretting.
The only factor left that I had applied my magical worrying powers to was our car. You see, when we flew to Grand Rapids in August, our car sat in the economy lot for a week, and when we returned, it had acquired a new trait. It coughed and sputtered and idled low and threathened to conk out completely. We pulled over about 10 minutes from the airport in the 90 degree heat and baking sunlight to have a little all-family freak-out fest before returning to the highway at a decidedly slow 50 mph and with the AC turned off for good measure. I sat in the back, wedged between the children's car seats, trying desperately to placate two sweating, unhappy kids, while I too was melting into a puddle of rank flop sweat. The culprit, we determined later with the help of Jeff's dad, was a crusty spark plug, likely caused by a little bout of rain during our absence.
Our stay in Michigan this time around had been in much more severe conditions, and I was expecting the worst from our otherwise trustworthy Subaru. Jeff and I had had the foresight to send him off solo to fetch the car from economy while the children and I luxuriated in the warmth and bustle of the baggage claim area of the Kansas City airport. I awaited his call with trepidation, and was relieved to hear that he had made it to the car, and the car had started up fine--once he had gotten into it. It was, it seems encased in a thick crust of ice. "It'll take me a while to chip out," he explained. "No problem!" I replied. "We're doing fine!"
And at that point, we were. Our suitcases had been accounted for and now surrounded us, forming a protective ring in which Charlotte frolicked, narrating a tale of Santa and Rudolph and her stuffed orange kitty, while Sam crawled, squealing and bellowing "BALL" at any remotely spherical object. I relaxed, relieved, all my worries proven naught.
But you see, when you let your guard down, that's when bad things happen.
Feeling the need to be proactive, I decided to change Sam's diaper and get him into his pajamas. The baggage claim area was nearly empty at that point, and I figured Sam would fall asleep in the car, and this way I could seamlessly transfer him into his crib when we got home. Jeff had most of the diapers with him, but I had thought to grab one before he left. Sam wasn't eager to be torn from his exploration of the super-fun jungle gym he had discovered in the luggage carts, but he was fairly agreeable. What wasn't agreeable was what I found when I opened his diaper: a poo of remarkable capacity and malodorous profile. I was rendered speechless and also temporarily paralyzed. Jeff, you see, had the wipes with him.
"Uh...oh. Um..." I said. While I sat frozen, Sam reached down and grabbed his nuts with one hand. His nuts, it should be noted, were covered in feces. And now, too, his hand. "Um." I said.
Charlotte's little voice, shrieking in my ear "OH NO! Sam did a HUGE POOP!" snapped me back to my senses. Thinking quickly, I whipped Sam's fleece pants off and used them to wipe his hand, and then his bottom. My water bottle was empty and Charlotte's was MIA, so I made do with the dry fleece the best I could (it wasn't very good). Then I popped a fresh diaper over his still poo-streaked buns, turned the now-dirtied fleece pants inside out and stuffed them into the front pocket of one of our suitcases, praying I'd remember they were in there the second we got home. (I didn't).
Once I wrestled Sam into his footie sleeper, an experience not unlike what I imagine it would be like to try to put clothes on a cat, I released him to once again explore the wilds of the baggage claim, and I sighed with relief once again. What a funny story that will be to tell Jeff, I thought. I was relaxing into a mindless, exhausted ease when the second shoe dropped.
Charlotte, who had previously been playing and chattering constantly, suddenly froze in a panicky, slightly crouched posture I knew well. "Mama," she called out. "I have to do a turtle!" My insistence that she needed to wait until dada came, and that she should just tell her turtle to go back inside, was futile. She had the glassy-eyed, red-faced demeanor of one whose bowel movement was nigh. Luckily, at that moment, an airline employee came into view.
"Ma'am!" I said, not without urgency. She appeared startled, apparently not expecting to find a little camp-out of disheveled mom and tots in the area. I asked her if she could watch our things as I was alone with the children and my daughter really, really needed to use the bathroom. She agreed and we were off. I carried Sam, who thought we were really having a "BALL," while Charlotte ran stiff-legged, clutching the seat of her jeans with both hands and hyperventilating.
We made it. Charlotte turtled in record time, and I managed to wipe her up with only one hand, and even washed hands while wrangling giant Sam, who thought this would be a great time to practice his full-body backward-flinging move. As we walked back down the hallway from the bathroom, Charlotte loudly announced, "I really had to make a turtle, and so did Sam! We both made GREAT BIG POOPS today at the airport!" much to the amusement of the people we passed.
The rest of our time in the airport passed (no pun intended) without incident. Jeff was amused when I told him of our Great Fecal Adventures, and I knew I would have a story for the blog. As well, of course, as a new worry to add to my ever-growing list of anxieties.