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The Poop Smudge.

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I was never the kind of dad who was shy about tackling my share of the diaper-changing duties, and I think I became quite adept at it. There was no leaky diaper, no poop explosion that I feared.

On one particular morning, I found myself face-to-face with the kind of mess that every parent dreads. The poop-containment properties of the diaper had completely failed, and there was “matter” everywhere. But this wasn’t my first rodeo, so wielding baby wipes like a samurai warrior, I charged headlong into battle.

After ten minutes of very intense hand-to-butt combat, I declared victory and began to put the child’s onesie back on. Glancing down, I noticed a smudge of poop on the back of my left hand. It was hardly a concern considering the toxic cleanup I had just performed, but as I reached for another wipe to remove the smudge, I noticed a second patch of poop on my right forearm. Now I was mildly annoyed at my carelessness, so I headed to the bathroom sink to wash up to my elbows and be done with poop smudges.

After scrubbing thoroughly and drying, I glanced in the vanity mirror only to find yet another smudge of poop that was shaped somewhat like South America on my forehead. “What the…?” Enough was enough. I stripped naked and put all my clothes and underwear into the garbage. I then took one of the most thorough showers I’ve ever taken in my life, washing every square inch twice.

“Well that takes care of that!” I said aloud, and headed for the fridge for a glass of iced tea.

As I raised the glass of freshly poured tea, I noticed on the glass, near the rim…a smudge of poop…and two more on the pitcher and the fridge door handle.

I stood completely baffled. How was this possible?

“OK, you got me!” I said in a loud voice to whoever was running around with a bucket of baby poop smudging things. But there was no one there…just the click-click of the dog’s toenails as he trotted into the kitchen to see what the commotion was about…with poop smudges on his ear and tail. I was dumbfounded.

I spent the rest of the day with a mop bucket and a sponge, washing the walls, floors, appliances, and the dog.

In the days that followed, it spread like a virus. I found poop smudges on the carpet, the TV, the mailbox, the ceiling, and even on guys I work with, who began to resent my constant sniffing and inspecting their clothing. In fact, I’m not sure how it could be possible, but I have calculated that if you were to add up the total volume of all poop smudges I had found, it would be significantly greater than the volume of poop in the poopy diaper from which they originated. It was an impossibility.

It began to affect my sanity. Everything smelled like poop, and I saw smudges everywhere. I was having nightmares about giant poopy diapers chasing me because they wanted to smear themselves all over my body. I was showering incessantly and throwing away clothes at an alarming rate.

It’s now been well over a decade since my kids have been potty trained, but I still can’t shake the feeling like that one particular poopy diaper is still stalking me. I sniff things constantly for the smell of new smudges. If I notice that someone I’m talking to is focusing their gaze on any particular part of my face or body, I instantly react: “What?…WHAT?…Is it poop?…Where?…Do I smell like poop?”

I’m not sure what lesson there is to be learned here. Maybe it’s that you should be really careful not to get any poop on you during a diaper change. Or maybe, if you do end up with a smudge, you might be better off embracing it, rather than getting hung up on a little poop.

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