It was a battle of wills, the likes of which I’ll probably never see again. On one side, we have The Mom, my sister-in-law…calm, cool, collected; a database programmer by trade. On the other side, we have The Daughter, my niece…4 1/2 years old, cute, smart, stubborn. Actually, stubborn is too mild a word, and uber-stubborn doesn’t cut it either. Let’s just say that when she gets into this kind of mood, you could crack coconuts over her head and it wouldn’t phase her a bit.
It’s December 29th and The Mom and I are sitting at the dining room table chatting. I’ve got about 30 minutes before I have to head to the airport so we’re just shooting the breeze. The Daughter announces, like all good 4 year olds, that she’s gotta poop, and we see her walk into the bathroom. After about 5 minutes or so, The Mom checks on her:
“Are you ok in there?” she says, to which The Daughter responds, “Yes, I’m fine.”
After another 5 minutes or so, The Daughter announces, “Moooooom, you need to come wipe me!!”. (Yes, there were two exclamation points after her sentence…you could hear them). The Mom replies with, “You’re old enough to wipe yourself!”. And the standoff begins…although we didn’t know it was a standoff.
A few minutes later we hear, “Mooooooommmmmmm, you need to come wipe me!!!”, with the emphasis on the word “need”, as if it was her Mom’s sworn duty to wipe her, um, doodie. Again, the Mom declined.
Ten minutes go by, still no wiping going on. From the bathroom we hear, “Mooooommm, I really, REALLY don’t want to wipe myself!” Sure, I was sympathetic to her cause, even though I pretended otherwise. You know how it is, you come home really late, drunk, reeking of cigarette smoke and unfulfilled expectations, and right before you wipe, you think, “Dude, if I had a hose in here…”.
At this point, somebody has to give. The Daughter’s been sitting on the toilet for upwards of 20 minutes and her poor, dangling legs have got to be going to sleep. A truce is attempted. The Mom says, “I’ll wipe once and you finish the rest”. The counter offer of, “NO! YOU DO IT!” is made. The Mom repeats her offer, only to be countered with a sobbing whine, “Nooooo”…It’s an impasse. My brother walks by, assesses the situation as only a Dad can do and says, “Quit it and wipe your butt”. The man could have been speaking Chinese for all the good it did.
I wish I could tell you this ended peacfully with both sides agreeing to a mutually satisfying wipe, but I can’t. It was ugly…accusations and doodie flying everywhere. A negotiator had to be called in to moderate the standoff on the grounds that too much sitting would give a rash. Yes, I did make it to the airport on time, but now, whenever I reflect on the Christmas of 2008, all I can think of is, “Moooooommm!! I really, REALLY don’t want to wipe myself” as I reach for the hose.