Zen and the Art of Diaper Changing in Public Places
One of the brightest insights I’ve had during my recent two-week trip with the kids to Israel was that if you are not lucky enough to have toilet-trained kids at two years old, you have to master diaper changing in more… interesting and unfamiliar configurations. Until recently, a “number 2” diaper change was a relatively manageable, horizontal endeavor. There are portable changing tables in lots of places. But as the “terrible twos” emerge and the kids figure out that they don’t have to do everything daddy says (they are, in fact, required to do nothing that daddy says as a matter of principle), we parents need to adjust and learn special techniques to maintain our kids’ bearable smell – especially in public places. And all this must be accomplished with zero contact by you or your kids to the contents of said “number 2 diaper.”
Crap. Is that even possible?!
First of all, let’s remove the guilt portion: Yes, my kids are not toilet trained at 2.5. Despite my Jewish mom’s steamrolling (“I’m embarrassed to show photos of my grandkids with the changing table in the background,” “my friend’s grandson is already toilet trained and he’s 9 months old,” etc.), I also hear of children who develop ‘potty anxiety,’ perhaps because of the pressure – and my husband goes on about what Freud says about overzealous potty-training. When I toured LA for pre-schools last year, I raised the potty training question with everyone. The answer I received every time was the same: usually what happens when kids start pre school is that one kid starts to go to the bathroom and then, like a domino, all of them are instantly potty trained within a week or so. Seeing other kids doing it and going to the potty willingly is my kind of potty training. This is what “stress free” means to me. So until that happens I’ve accepted that I’ll have to deal with my mom’s shit – and my children’s poop.
Now back to mastering the diaper change: On our trip we took them to a lot of parks, malls and other public places. Without fail, they waited ‘til we were at one of those places to “let fly.” And then the drama: negotiations on whether to change them and when; the grass is too itchy, the other kid is doing something so exciting that it requires attention right now, and anyway, why would they lie down to have their diaper change in the midst of this excitement.
That’s where the next step of my parenting began: Changing a poopy diaper while the kid is standing up, AKA, “The Freestanding Poop-Swap”
At first it seemed impossible. The kid is constantly moving. The wipes are sticking to each other in the package. How can you even do it without getting your hands and shirt all – shall we say… contaminated? But then I saw a mother doing it at the park and it all made sense. Here’s how it’s done:
- Place the kid facing you and pull down the pants – no need to remove them completely. Take out a few wipes from the package so you have them separate and handy.
- Carefully pull the diaper stickers open and pull diaper out through the back side (Dear G-D, from the BACK SIDE. Trust me!). Kid is now standing with the poop to the back.
- Clean with the wipes you prepared only the outside of the butt. To make sure that the… substance in question will not smear on you when he makes a sudden turn.
- When the outside of the butt is clean you can turn the child towards you and clean the rest of it carefully.
- Put the new diaper through the kid’s legs. Lift the back side up and turn the kid’s back towards you. Lift the front part and close the diaper.
For dads, changing a diaper in public often comes with an extra hurdle: finding a place to do it. But this new skill I adopted really helped me with my energetic boys whose every minute at the park is cherished and worshiped – just like every minute of watching the Eurovision Song Contest is for me (good luck Netta Barzilai!). When I understood that and went with it I stopped being their party pooper and remained only their pooper-cleaner.