Monday 10 March 2008

Brown fish in the swimming pool

(Some of you can probably guess from the title what this post is going to be about - but to be doubly sure I will just add, for the benefit of the small number of squeamish readers or those enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit while reading: you may want to look away now. This one could get ugly...)

Bathtime for the girls, and as usual the air in the bathroom is full of noise, water and the occasional flying plastic toy. Neve is happily hammering away at the taps with a rubber duck when she suddenly goes suspiciously still and starts pulling a strained face. I have come to know that face and it is not a good portent: it normally signals there is an imminent 'Code Brown' nappy-filling incident on its way.
"No, Neve! Not in the bath!" I yell, to no avail.
She squats a little. I have a split second to decide whether to try and yank her out of the bath and race to the toilet, or get Amelie out before the water gets befouled. I decide to go with Amelie, on the basis that if I lift Neve during her 'procedure' she is fairly likely to unload all over my socks in the process.
Amelie howls in protest as I lift her out, just as Neve gives a soft satisfied grunt, and there are suddenly twice as many floating objects in the bath as there were a minute ago.
"NINI!" I shout. "We have a problem!"
Amelie hangs over the bath, looking on in wonder. "What is that?" she asks, pointing.
"It's poo" I say, grimly.
"Where did it come from?"
There is a pause while she considers this.
"How?" she asks
This is not the time, I feel, to discuss the inner workings of the human digestive system and the magical wonder of peristalsis. "It doesn't matter" I say, eyeing the bath polluter and wondering is she's finished. It appears so, as she is dancing happily on the spot in what looks like a deliberate attempt to mash some of it into the bath mat.
"There's loads of it" says Amelie, helpfully.
"Can you stop talking, please?"
"It's all breaking up into little pieces..."
Nini appears at the doorway while I am dry-heaving. "What's the matter now?" she asks.
"Your daughter has dumped in the bath" I explain.
Nini peers at the contents of the bath, then wrinkles her nose and stares at Neve, who is still stamping and shrieking in triumph."I think you mean our daughter" she says.
"No. I've decided she's yours. You can have her."
"Let's get her out..."
"You lift and hold. I'll hose her down with the shower."
An unpleasant episode follows. There is much noise and splashing. The situation is not improved by Amelies running commentary: ("There is poo on your feet, Neve. Poo! Poo! On your feet! It's not coming off! Look, Daddy is choking...")
Eventually, both girls are swaddled in towels. All four of us look at the now stilled bathwater, imagining the lurking horror that is concealed beneath the foam from the bubble bath.
"How do we deal with that?" I ask.
Nini gathers the girls up in her arms "Let's get them in bed first, and then clean it up" she suggests.
I balk at this. "No! We can't leave it there for the next half an hour! That's disgusting. We have to sort it out now!"
"OK" she smiles sweetly. "I'll put them to bed. You deal with it."
I realise I have made a grave tactical error.
"No, we could..." I begin -but it is too late. She has already left.
Fifteen minutes later, I have realised that simply letting all the water out will cause a sludge problem, and have had to resort to 'fishing' in the bath with a cutdown milk carton. I have dealt with the soiled bathmat by making an executive decision that it was old, and we needed a new one anyway. Meanwhile Nini is safely ensconced in our bed, with one of the girls under each arm, reading 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. I catch sight of this charming domestic scene each time I pass the open doorway, which is every minute or so as I ferry each of my many (so very, very many) 'catches' to the toilet. I stop to complain.
"I want you to know, you owe me. Don't think by reading them a story we have equally divided this task between us. This is in no way an equal split..."
Nini is strangely unsympathetic. "Uh huh. Don't drip anything on the carpet..."
"We could swap. You could take over."
"We're all settled now."
"I am comfy" chips in Amelie, to underline the point. Neve giggles
I look at them miserably. Two pairs of big innocent eyes - and one pair of scheming and amused eyes - look back at me.
"Bath-poo should always be a 'Daddy job', don't you think girls?" asks Nini.
I look sadly down into my milk carton. Unlike the caterpillar they are reading about, I find my appetite has completely disappeared...


Anonymous said...

A moving read.

Anonymous said...

I believe this is one of those experiences that is included on the list of "things that all parents must go through at least once" (along with "being defecated/urinated/vomited on" (extra points for managing all three in a single day), "accidentally putting your hand into a full nappy", "losing the most cherished toy and spending several hours looking for it" and so forth). I can remember lovingly hand-washing each bath toy individually, before eventually deciding to throw the whole lot out anyway.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that is not what I'm doing in Parkside Swimming Pool on 18th April. I'll try really hard not to.