I am the first to admit: when it comes to more than one child, I am a novice. Well, let’s face it, I was still pretty amateurish with just one, so two can be a… challenge. And when I say challenge, I mean a hair-tearing nightmare. To be fair (which doesn’t happen very often, so let’s go with this) given than my youngest is the ripe old age of 7 months, I am still reaping all sorts of short-term advantages: he stays where I put him, he usually doesn’t refuse my requests, he doesn’t ask for Scooby Doo every time he comes within twenty foot of the television – he pretty much goes along with the agenda he is given.
So I fear that the full force of two has yet to be unleashed on me. I catch glimpses, though, like accidentally seeing a few moments of a trailer for an utterly terrifying horror film. No matter how quickly you shut your eyes and hum loudly, there is no unknowing what you have just seen, and it leaves you slightly nauseous. My most recent glimpse was last week, when E fell ill and spent three days decorating every bed sheet, duvet cover and blanket with copious amounts of vomit. At one point, I had B crying on my left knee, which was stretched as far as my creaky hips would allow from my right knee, upon which I was balancing the sick bowl, into which E was violently emptying his stomach contents. B was wailing E was vomiting: it’s how every girl wants to spend her day. I turned to B, smiling and overly-cheerful in an attempt to cease the crying and then turned to E, ‘there thereing’ and being all sympathetic. Then back to B, to try more smiling and cooing before attention returned to E, who was still wretching. Back and forth, forth and back, trying to keep them as far apart as possible. Because, in my head, which was mainly filled with sounds of screaming, vomiting and a single repetitive thought of when I might be able to lie down and have a glass of wine, it was imperative that the gap had to be too large for the sick germs to jump from the bowl to the baby and if I was going to dislocate my legs in the process, so be it. A minute later, in the middle of the sheer ridiculousness of it all, I found myself inadvertently being all concerned and tender with B and gurning a stupid grin at E, who peered up from the bowl, a globule of bile swinging from his bottom lip, and looked away, utterly unimpressed with my inappropriate gaiety.
So now I know. One sick child, one baby: a recipe for madness. But the sick child got well, the baby stopped crying and I ‘la-la-la-la-la’ed’ loudly enough in my own head that I almost could forget it ever happened.
Until I got another glimpse. We are at a play space with a friend and her boy and baby. My friend’s boy, S, along with E, both decided that they needed a wee. “I’ll take them,” I say. I stand up and it is only then that I start to think I may have been a little hasty. This is unchartered territory for me. Nah, I think, as I usher the boys to the toilets. How hard can this be? It’s only one extra willy, after all. And there is a thought that doesn’t strike me that often.
We enter the toilet, and my first dilemma strikes. One boy per toilet or sharing? Sharing, of course. Can you imagine, returning to the table and having to admit to my friend that her son fell down the toilet whilst I was in the next cubicle undoing E’s jeans? I position them either side of the toilet and pull down pants and trousers, giving them strict instructions not to move. There is going to be no shenanigans on my watch.
Oh yes, this is actually a doddle, I muse, as I turn my attention to S, who, being a year younger than E, is struggling to get his willy above the seat. So, two boys, one now on tip toes, pointing their willies into the toilet. That’s the hard bit done, surely. S starts to pee and bull’s-eye, it’s in the water. And then I am not quite sure what happens next. Time seems to slow down, whilst the stream of urine seems to speed up. In a split second, the wee is no longer splashing into the toilet bowl, but has suddenly re-directed to a perfect horizontal jet that sails over the toilet and starts to drench E. E, who for the first time in his life is heeding an instruction without the need for twenty-three repetitions, is not moving. Wee is soaking into his pants, dripping down his thighs and splashing onto his crumpled jeans.
“Oh, sweetie,” I say to S, trying not to shout with panic, “point it lower!”
Slowly, the stream of wee is lowered. I pull forty foot of toilet paper from the roll in one go wondering just how fucking stupid I was to position two willies face-to-face, as it were.. or perhaps eye-to-eye, and start the clean-up operation on E, sweating slightly from the stress. Unsurprisingly, E has had second thoughts about wanting a pee himself, so finally I pull his trousers up over still-damp legs and turn my attention back to S.
It is at this point that I realise he has not quite come out of this whole debacle unscathed, either. I look down and he is standing in a puddle of his own urine. I then realise that when I asked him to point his willy down, he did just that. And peed all over his socks.
I shout out a whole smorgasbord of heinous swear words in my head, and take a deep breath. All I can smell is pee. I lift S from his puddle and together, after a cursory hand wash where I pointlessly ask them to be careful and not splash themselves, we all trudge slowly back to the table, two of us covered in wee, one of us squelching slightly from the foot department and one of us totally not covered in any kind of glory whatsoever.
“Errr… I can explain,” I start, with a weak smile and a silent promise that I will never, ever, take two children to the toilet without a trained professional.
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