Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dinner, Diapers, and Desperation

Years ago, my father called me to ask if I would invite a friend of his to dinner. The gentleman and his wife were new to the area, and they happened to live an hour away from me in a university town where my husband had an office. Being delighted to meet another friendly face, I arranged a dinner for the friend, his wife, my husband, our little two-year-old girl, and me at an Indian restaurant on the town square.

On the afternoon of the dinner, with my husband conveniently working near the university that day, I chose dresses for myself and my little girl, made sure she had enough in her sippy cup for the hour drive there, and packed a diaper bag. I saw that there was one diaper left in the bag, and none in the house. It’s okay, I thought, I always keep a stash in her dad’s car. Somehow, wipes were also absent from this bag, but the other essentials were there: her blanket, her toys, snack food.

The drive ended up taking almost two hours due to road construction and there were no grocery stores en route. When I got to my husband’s office, my little girl’s nappy was soaked. I put her in the one remaining diaper I had and went to my husband’s car where I kept extras wedged into the door pockets. Finding none, I ran back in his office.

“Where are the diapers? The extra diapers?”

“We used them all--I guess,” he shrugged. He did not seem overly concerned. In hindsight, I should have gone ahead to meet our new friends and sent him to the store, but time was ticking and we were due at the restaurant in minutes. There was no store on the way to the restaurant, and the town was still unfamiliar to me. I reasoned that we would be okay because our daughter had already had her bowel movement of the day; however, mid-way through the meal, a certain stench wafted its way about the table.

Please let it be gas, I thought, but with the stench lingering, I knew that my daughter had officially soiled herself. I began to fret. I had no diapers, no wipes, and there were no other families with toddlers in the restaurant. I scooped up my daughter from her high chair, snatched a linen napkin from the table, and scurried into the restroom. The only place to change my daughter was the floor. Mothers hate this. How hard is it to install a fold-down changing shelf? Pushing thoughts of bacteria aside, I started to untape the diaper.

Please let the poo be solid enough so I can reuse this, I hoped. Oh, I was so far from any realistic expectation. The diaper was full of a certain despicable substance that penetrated each layer of padding. I started to pace as my baby girl lay on the floor peacefully observing my panic and cooing, “Mommy!”

Fortunately, there were paper towels to clean her pudgy bottom, and I had the linen napkin that would have to suffice until we could get home.

I laid the napkin in a triangle and slid it under my daughter. Please let this work, I prayed. But, a new problem arose: the napkin was too small and I could not tie or pin it closed around both chubby baby legs at once. There was only one solution, my underwear, which happened to be a white and pink hearted thong. I removed my undies, hoped that no one in the restaurant had x-ray vision, and then lifted my toddler’s legs through the leg holes. As I knotted the sides, my baby said, (seriously), “Good and tight, Mommy!”

I stood her up, tucked the napkin around the heart-speckled fabric, told her not to play with her diaper, and hoped that she would not bend over for the rest of the evening. She was wearing a cute little play dress, one that did not come with bloomers.

“What did you do?” whispered my husband when we returned to the table.

“I’m not telling,” I said.

“I bet I can guess,” sang the wife of my father’s friend. My daughter plopped down on the floor to play with toys.

“I’m still not telling,” I said, fidgeting in my seat and feeling suddenly awfully naked.

After dinner, with the night turned cool and breezy, we two couples hugged goodbye, parted ways, and walked toward our cars.

“Really, what did you do?” asked my husband once we were out of earshot.

I lifted the back of my daughter’s dress. A thin line of hearts ran between her cheeks and pinned a flap of linen about her. His laughter echoed on the quiet street.

“And what are you wearing?” he chuckled.

It was a cold walk in my dress that night. Lesson learned--I never again ran out of diapers or wipes.

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