What a long strange trip it’s been

By Mir
November 30, 2007

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.


  1. Megan

    Um. Normally, I’d do the obligatory “awwww” thing, and sorta feel sheepish because going “awwww” is just a leetle cringe-making for me (for ME, not for everyone! Many people totally rock the “awwwww” thing, just not me). However this is MY kinda Otto story because it has poop and farts and no one can expect me to go all smoodgy inside over that. Besides, what better way to totally express acceptance than with the kind of stuff that only a real family member can love?

  2. All Adither

    We’re trying to teach our son to wipe himself. I’ve been overhearing my husband (who is a SAINT) in the bathroom explaining technique. And, upon listening to him, I think: I never realized that parenting with another person would mean you’d learn the intimate details of how they blot their poop.

  3. MomCat

    I never would have thunk it before, but “tooted” is funny to any kid, even a 13 year old girl. Kudos to Otto, and kudos to you, Mir, for finding him. : )

  4. RuthWells

    That Otto’s a keeper.

  5. janet

    oh yes, this is PROOF POSITIVE that otto has arrived. well done!

  6. prophet

    I can certainly appreciate Otto’s journey in this regard, having never – ever – changed a diaper in my several decades of life on earth as a grown woman presumably capable of changing diapers. . . .

    My own stepfather was spared having to learn with my brother and me (we were just past that age) and – oh bless him, bless him, bless him! – took over those kinds of duties when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) became infirm just before she died. My own mom couldn’t quite make that transition, but he could – and did.

    Intimacy is such a – the word escapes me – such a __________ thing. Wonderful; terrible; loving; horrifying. . . .

    (All Adither: wow – interesting observation! I have no recollection of being taught how to ‘blot’ my own. . . . grin.)

  7. Stephanie

    Just don’t tell us that he did the same thing to you. Because then that would be sinking to a whole ‘nother level. Not that my husband hasn’t been there a time or two himself…

  8. elswhere

    Ah, yes– a long, strange, stinky trip. And I mean “stinky” in the, well, the best possible sense. (It’s a tribute to you that until this very moment I’d never even thought of there *being* a best possible sense, but now I see the light. And, uh, smell it.)

  9. Leandra

    All Adither has it spot on! I never thought about how to go about these…um…details…until it happened to me, well to Bubba to be more precise. We’ve actually gotten Bubba to wipe himself now, but his confidence isn’t so great so we have to “check” him. Good times.

    Kudos to Otto. Cause that kind of stuff is serious parenting duty. Ha! I said doody! :)

  10. Mama Bear

    Mrs. Otto,
    I can’t thank you enough for this hilarious story. I laughed until I cried and it was exactly what I needed today. I thought it was only our family that found flatulence so laugh inducing that it could produce tears. Now I feel a little less abnormal.

  11. Heather

    Aw yay, Otto is now comfortable with Monkey’s digestive system ;-) Way to be a spare tire, Otto!

  12. Dina

    Great story, made even better by the fact that I read the last line as “You’ve STUNK to our level” the first time!

  13. BOSSY

    Surely you can present him with a plaque honoring this Rite of Passage?

  14. jennielynn

    OH! Congratulations to Otto! Best to ease him into this stuff so he doesn’t go all catatonic when he has to buy feminine supplies for the girl child. I still giggle when I think of Mr. Clairol’s face after learning that news.

  15. Another Dawn

    He is, as if there were any doubt, A KEEPER!

  16. Burgh Baby's Mom

    If ever there was a testament to why men should date/marry women who have kids, this is most certainly it. They can hope to come into the picture late enough into the diaper process to just plain avoid it, but the wiping will still be there.

  17. Heidi

    Omigosh, Tammy, I’m not even going to ask why you know about Monkey Butt!

  18. Manic Mommy

    Much as I love Otto (and I do), my research has shown that all males, no matter what age, find farts funny. Or maybe it’s just the man in my life; I could have told the exact same bedtime story, substituting my husband for Monkey.

    Paging a grown-up…

  19. Ree

    Yay Otto.

  20. Flea

    Mir says,”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.”

    Let me know when you stop goggling at his facility with children. I’ve been married to the same man for nearly 16 years, the father of all my children, and he never ceases to amaze me with the kids. Yes, he freaks out about some things (blood, injuries. loose teeth – stuff guys should totally get), but he relates to the kids in a way I can’t. His heart-to-hearts put me to shame. It will be sad when the kids grow up, because every one of his sweet interactions with them makes me melt. Which leads to fun. With him. Ahem. Time to go.

  21. Bronie

    I’m dooonnneee! Every parent’s favorite summons. hehe
    Oh well, it’s nice to hear stories of how the family unit is working. Good for you…and Otto!

  22. Daisy

    Hate to tell you this, dear, but the boy will find flatulence funny long after you find it endearing. (Says the former teacher of middle-school boys and the mom of a 15-yr-old, well, male)

  23. carolyn

    Mir, you are a lucky, lucky girl.

  24. Barb

    Beautiful post. As Grandma Florence always said, “Love me; love my stink!” Your family is blessed.

  25. Cele

    Mir what a great story. But I will let you know, I have grown step daughters who thinks farting is not big deal. OHMIGAWD! I tried, I really tried.

  26. Flea

    Do chickens fart?

  27. Amy-Go

    Good for Otto! And for you. ;)

  28. Lori

    LOL Laughing over flatulence is what bonds people together – I learned that in Junior High! *grin*

  29. Jane

    Tammy. you crack me up — no pun intended! And yes, all boys, no matter the age, love the toots! And it is a good thing that Monkey’s toots were something that you both could relate to and…enjoy?.

  30. becky

    the new baby is already a world-class farter. i am in so much trouble!

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