“The rain to the wind said,
‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed.
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged — though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.” – Robert Frost
It has been stormy here in southern CT since last Saturday. I drove with some friends to the top of a large hill overlooking all of New Haven and watched the sun set from a place called East Rock Park. The vistas were stunning; as my friend Brian said “the tops of the trees look like broccoli or kale from up here.” I don’t even particularly like broccoli, and yet I agreed, it did look like that and it was still beautiful. Aside from those stunning eight minutes of gazing from the expansive view high above the city the sun has remained hidden since then, behind storm clouds and thick sheets of rain. The next four days rolled by without so much as a peek from the morning or evening sun. I have loved thunderstorms ever since I was a child, so I happily made due with the gloom and grey and feasted my senses every chance I could get on the mist and sounds and roar of the storm.
As I watch the storms from my sister’s front porch I contemplate how thunder and lightning are actually the same thing. Lightening is the visual aspect and thunder the audible aspect of the very same event. But because light travels faster than sound we see lightening and then some seconds later we hear the thunder crash down upon us. I think again of the quote on the tomb of Hermes, “as above so below, as within so without,” and I begin to wonder what storms might be raging inside of me.
The I think about my now six week old niece Charlie, going through her first growth spurt. She has become more fussy and inconsolable. Her skin and bones are stretching. Her tear ducts are becoming active so when she cries we can see actual tears now, which makes her crying harder to see. She is learning to see farther, hear more, and her skin is becoming more sensitive to touch. For the past four days she’s been constantly hungry, and continually fussy; I can imagine this spurt may feel like a storm to her. So in an effort to bring her some peace we decide to give her a bath. She is laying on her back and I am standing over her at her feet. Cheryl is lovingly caressing her with a warm washcloth as I am holding her still; leaning over her, like an idiot. Suddenly, and without warning, she farts in my face. “That was disgusting,” I proclaim, “your farts smell like your mommy’s did when she was 3 months pregnant.” And just to give you an idea of what that smells like think of someone eating seaweed, vomiting it into a gym shoe and then washing that shoe with the toilet water from an outhouse at a ball game. It smelled worse than that would. I regained my composure, draped a cloth over Charlie’s poop hole and once Cheryl and Craig were done laughing we got back to the business of getting little Charlie clean.
We all mused over how lucky that was because she could have just as easily pooped all over my face. I had been leaning right into it, after all. My sister said she’d have fallen on the floor laughing if that happened. We prop Charlie up now so Craig can wash off her back, and to stabilize her I am holding her but, she’s basically using the palm of my hand like an armchair. Then I quip “how about if she pooped now?, I’d drop her.” She would have been pooping right into my hand.
“No you can’t!” my sister protests and we are all chuckling, basking in the levity, a truly perfect family moment. Then I feel what I think is another fart. Then something hot and sticky on my hand.
“It’s happening, it’s happening now,” I proclaim, sounding the alarm. Charlie had in fact shit on me, putting us all to the proverbial test. Craig and Cheryl think I am joking at first because I had just been saying how gross it would be if this happened. They laughed in innocent delight. Oh, funny Uncle Brian, always the comedian. Either my face turned red or I began to cry because finally they realized I was serious. I was beside myself in a poopy panic. In hindsight it wasn’t that big of deal but you have to understand I have never been shit on before, as unusual as that may sound to you, by anyone of any age. I kept saying it’s the sun gazing. Shit I say just keeps happening now and manifesting quicker than I can say “get me a baby wipe” so I should have known. I should have known. My sister (almost) peed her pants laughing she tells me. Charlie’s father and mother were laughing hysterically as I was racing to the faucet to wash my hand under the hot water. This baby poo was bright yellow and stuck like glue. I had to rub it off. Oh it so totally was as gross as it sounds. After I calmed back down I felt this strange glow. This incident made me love her more. We had bonded. I knew now she felt totally safe with me. And she had tried to warn me after all. I realize now that the fart in my face was her baby version of a shot over the bow. Poop is coming, stand down, she was telling me. I didn’t listen.
Just like thunder and lightning are the same thing, so too a fart and the poop that follow are the same thing too. Smells are just microscopic particles of whatever it is you are smelling actually traveling into your nose and reaching your brain (as gross as that sounds, it’s true). So the fart is made up of little itty bitty bits of poop. The fart is the olfactory aspect and the poop is the solid aspect. Storms brew inside all of us, but this particular storm had been raging inside Charlie, poop monster on a growth spurt, all along. And as strange as this may sound, when the storm cloud passed, when the bath was over and little Charlie was happily drinking a bottle in Craig’s arms, I felt happy. I was truly glad this happened. She hasn’t pooped on anyone else yet, I was surprised to learn, not even her parents; this was something special between just her and her uncle Brian. Charlie and I had bonded, weathering the storms of her growth spurt together, poop, parents and all. Ahh, family, the ones you can really count on.
“Life isn’t about waiting on the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Claudia Carroll
SIDE EFFECTS: I got shit on, by a baby.
BENEFITS: I bonded with my niece, no longer fear baby poop, and have been enjoying the hell out of four days of thunderstorms and growth spurts. Just like a rainbow appears at the end of storm, a bigger, more alert, more responsive and curious little Charlie has appeared at the end of her storm. I am in the middle of Hurricane Charlie and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.