I’m sure that there’s a point at which it will stop amazing me, but it hasn’t happened yet. And so in the meantime I shall continue to GOGGLE at the small miracle which is Otto’s facility with the children.
It’s a strange thing, this, because obviously I would not have married him if I didn’t believe him capable of this. I KNEW HE HAD IT IN HIM, of course, but it’s one thing to know deep in my heart of hearts and another thing altogether to watch it unfold in front of me.
It makes me warm and fuzzy for the kids, because—despite what some other people related to them might think—there is not some sort of global allotment of love which might be used up if they dare to use some of their ration on a positive relationship with their stepdad, and in fact some might argue that an extra positive parental unit just makes good sense. Sort of like having a spare tire in your car.
It also makes me happy for Otto, because this is a man who once told me he had no interest in having kids, and HAHAHA SUCKER, YOU’VE GOT ‘EM, AND YOU’RE ROCKIN’ IT. And as we well know, little makes me happier than being right.
Anyway, there’s a story I love to tell by way of illustration, and Otto squirms when I tell it, but I’m going to, anyway. I shall just have to find some way to make it up to him later. Because it needs to be told.
When we dated the first time ’round, the kids were much smaller, of course. Otto was fairly uncomfortable around them. Wait. That’s not entirely accurate. He was fine around them as long as they were not having any “weird” or “disgusting” requirements. When we first started dating, Monkey was still in diapers. Otto regarded the whole diapering thing as on par with an adult using the bathroom—he was certainly not going to change anyone’s diaper, ever, and furthermore he would LEAVE THE ROOM if I needed to change a diaper. As if Monkey (who also liked to run through the house naked) (wait a minute… that hasn’t really changed yet) needed his privacy, or maybe Otto would turn into a pillar of salt if anywhere in proximity with another human’s poop. Even if that human was under three feet tall.
So the story is this: Shortly after Monkey was potty-trained, Otto came for a visit and there was a choir concert at church that I was singing in. Otto sat in the audience with the kids and a friend of mine and her daughter, and when Monkey said he needed to use the bathroom, Otto said he’d take him.
Otto took him to the bathroom and then stood outside the bathroom door. When Monkey called out “I’m done!” Otto said, “Okay…?” Otto did not know that “I’m done!” is newly-potty-trained parlance for “Please come wipe my butt.”
(It’s just as well that he didn’t know. Had he known, he probably would’ve broken up with me right then and there.)
Eventually Monkey got tired of sitting there and figured out that Otto wasn’t coming to help him, and he pulled up his pants and came out. Otto had no idea anything was amiss. Neither did I until bedtime, at which point I discovered the misunderstanding and was Not Pleased. It was a tense discussion that followed, with me having my first flickers of doubt that Otto could handle the whole parenting gig.
I tell you this story not to embarrass Otto—and believe me, anyone who’s not a parent could/would have made the same mistake, I’m sure—but to illustrate how far we’ve come.
There are many, many things Otto has said or done in his new role which have either brought a tear to my eye or made me laugh myself silly. The man does NOTHING half-assed, and parenting is no exception. He has embraced his new role without reservation and there are hilarious moments and tender moments and “it’s official, now you’re a parent” moments (the first time Chickadee challenged him and he withstood her histrionics and followed through on the necessary discipline, I felt like I should’ve given him a medal and a formal induction ceremony).
But last night, I was putting Monkey to bed last night and he was all tucked in and being sweet and cuddly, and then he removed his arms from under the blanket to give me one last hug. In doing this, the blankets lifted and out wafted the rankest, most foul stench I believe a living creature has ever emitted.
“MONKEY!” I sputtered, as he giggled, “WHAT DID YOU DO? AUGH! YOU STINK!”
“I tooted!” he declared with glee, because what is funnier than farting when you’re a small boy? Nothing, that’s what. And as he continued laughing he tried to draw me down to him, into the noxious cloud, and he laughed all the harder as I flapped my hands around trying to clear the air.
Monkey has a variant of the “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” routine that he likes to say to me, and as soon as he got to “bed bugs” I bellowed “THERE ARE NO BED BUGS. THEY ALL DIED FROM THE POISONOUS STENCH!” By this time we were both hysterical, and I bid him goodnight while staggering out of his room into fresher air.
Late last night, when Otto and I finally crawled into bed, I remembered what happened with Monkey and retold the episode. I laughed so hard I nearly cried, and Otto laughed, too.
And I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, that my husband can find my son’s flatulence amusing. But it is. You know the expression “a face only a mother could love?” This was “a stink only a parent could appreciate.” There was a time when that story would’ve horrified him.
Congratulations, honey. You’ve sunk to our level. We’re delighted to have you here.