As 2013 draws to a close and I muse over the past year, all of Dante’s milestones and mishaps swirl together into an exhaustive hurricane. We’ve had hospital scares, first words, and the living hell of teething. One discrete memory, however, keeps popping up in my mind above all others.
My son ate his own poop.
Normally, I have been plagued by worry about him eating tiny crumbs off of the floor, or bits of dust. Several months ago, however, he took this filth-foraging to the next level. As I was getting myself ready, which never happens until around 11 A.M., I noticed him playing with a small, brown, poop-like thing which was in fact poop.
Earlier, when he had expelled solid and rather cat-like excrement, it had fallen out of his diaper, off of the changing table, and straight onto the floor. Despite the fact that I gathered it up with obsessive-compulsive enthusiasm, I must have missed a small piece, which he found and carried around like one of his many gross treasures.
After some sufficient freaking out, which included washing his mouth out several times and cleaning him all over with baby wipes, I called my doctor thinking there might be some kind of immediate danger involved with putting poop in one’s mouth. The response was a chuckling “don’t worry about it,” with an undertone of you have it easy; my six year old just got a drum set.
I didn’t think that human babies did this, let alone my son, who is always a step ahead of everyone, including me. Despite the undisputed fact that Dante is a genius, he is also a boy, and boys do stupid things. At least he didn’t throw it at me and cackle, like the psycho offspring of our distant jungle relatives. The bonus of this whole charade is that I get to regale his prom date with this story when he is sixteen years old.
I pondered over the event for several days, disturbed at how much it reminded me of my former pet cat Ringo, who was also my practice son. I was even more disturbed that my own thoughts were sheepishly making such a comparison.
After Dante was born, I had the misfortune of meeting (single) people who, having never had kids, would openly reflect upon their own potential parenthood. Even when I was pregnant, people liked to equate the duties of caring for a newborn human to those of caring for the relatively self-sufficient species known as domesticated cats. A few examples:
“Oh, I think I could totally do it. I have like three cats, and I totally spoil them, and we’re like best friends. Totally, totally, totally.”
“I know exactly how you feel. Mister Floofles is my baby.”
After much observation of my now one-year old, I’ve come to the conclusion that these people, highly irritating as they may be, may be on to something. For a reformed (ish) cat lady such as myself, I couldn’t help but see some similarities…
- Vocal gymnastics. My son got this one pretty early on. He began to develop a high-pitched, whiny moan, very similar to a cat in heat. Along with weird “doi doi doi” sounds, he reminds me exactly of those YouTube videos where cats are “talking”
- “Shall we not eat the dust bunnies?” Once crawling commences, good luck Chuck. Paper, dirt, fuzzies, CDs, pennies, candles, wires (oooh those wires), stroller wheels, crumbs, and even dirty socks will all seem palatable. My son even likes to finger paint his own spit up, much like a cat lapping up his vomit and staring at you with that “what?” look.
- Saying “no.” You will start saying no to your child earlier than you thought. He’ll want to climb into the dishwasher and eat the crap in the trash and sleep facedown with a blanket pulled over his head. Meanwhile, your cat … you know.
- Claws. Kitten claws are the worst, with baby talons coming in a close second. Clipping them is at first terrifying and filing them is impossible. Even once you get the hang of it and his paws are neatly pruned, your baby will scratch the crap out of you. He will want your glasses, or your hair, or just to feel your face as you laugh and prattle on at him. And it will seem very sweet, until … is that blood?
- Saying “no.” Again.
- Toys. Don’t judge me on this one. George (my fiancé) and I both sheepishly admitted to each other that we had, on multiple occasions, done this. It was entirely by accident. Once my son started crawling and following me everywhere, I had to be prepared with toys so he would be distracted as I did whatever I needed to do. If he tired of them, I would absentmindedly toss one and say, “go get it.” This is more of a doggie thing, naturally, but I’ve known cats who were oddly keen on playing fetch. And yes, he would eagerly scramble after the toy with newfound enthusiasm.
- You will be tempted to steal their food. Who hasn’t wanted to try pet food when they were a kid? When I myself was a baby, I loved our cats’ food. That probably explains a lot about me. The first time I sampled my son’s food was when he started on solids, specifically peas. I took one whiff, and was so appalled that I just had to try some. Never again. Now that he can chew, however, he has these amazing little cereal/fruit snacks that I have taken to stealing in the middle of the night when there is no candy to be found.
- Making weird noises. We all cluck and shush and make whatever sounds at our cats, and getting a baby’s attention will often result in the same exact sounds. Again, don’t judge me.
- Sleeping. Babies sleep almost as much as cats, especially when they are young. The major difference here is that cats do it happily and voluntarily, and babies need a little coaxing. And then some rocking, and singing. Then some milk. Then the pacifier. Then the mobile. Then a book. Then more singing. Then more milk. Etc.
- Poop. Your house will smell like poop. Get used to it.
Virginia Petrucci is a freelance fiction and non-fiction writer, and a former model and actress. She has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and English, and is pursuing further education in Psychology. She has a one-year old son named Dante.