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February 06, 2003

The Greatest Flow on Earth

The Greatest Flow on Earth

We went to the circus tonight, Ngnat and I and the Sainted wife, with Woundwort and his wife and Bug. I was looking forward to seeing the circus through my child's eyes, to watch her drink in the atmosphere of excitement and thrills. I wanted to see some echo of the wonderment I experienced when my dad took me to the circus, thirty years ago.

What I saw was some circus and a lot more of the inside of the men's bathroom. In the first hour and thirty minutes of the performance, Ngnat went to the potty five times. Five times. Three pee-pees and two poopies. The child doesn't go to the bathroom that much in an entire weekend.

Did I mention we had really good seats? Really good seats mean the bathroom is a long way away, at the end of a truly immense flight of stairs. If you don't carry the child up the stairs, then it takes a good five minutes just to navigate them each way, and each minute is spent wondering exactly how far your child will roll down once they slip. Carrying your child up the stairs means that you have a screaming, wiggling, 35 pound skinbag of misery who is very unhappy with you because you won't let her navigate the Stairs of Death on her own, and who is outscreaming an entire circus in her attempt to make absolutely sure you realize this.

Here's another tip. If two couples take two toddlers to the circus, and one of the those toddlers is still in diapers, then the parents of the potty-trained child should get the aisle seats in case their toddler decides she has to go the bathroom every fifteen goddamn minutes.

Also, putting the pregnant mother of the potty-trained toddler in the furthest seat from the aisle means that the father of that child has to escort her to the bathroom every time she has to go, even when he would rather see the Mystical Mei Ling perform her exotic hand balancing routine, because getting a pregnant lady from her seat to the Stairs of Death involves discomfiting hundreds of other circus patrons. Even if a hundred people don't have to stand up and press in against their folding seats to let her waddle by, they still stare their silent, hostile stares at the person disturbing their field of vision, and I couldn't put the Sainted Wife through that.

So, when Ngnat relayed the five minute Old Faithful warning to me, usually by screaming "DADDY, I TO GOT GO POTTY!" at the top of her lungs, I shoved her out through the forest of what was to become very familiar knees between her and the stairs, and lugged her up to the men's restroom, while she kicked and screamed and wailed because I wouldn't let her walk up on her own.

Once we finally go to the restroom, I would wipe off the inevitable yellow splatters of badly aimed stranger urine from the toilet seat, choking back the gorge in my throat the entire time, and place her upon her newly polished throne.

"Don't touch anything." I would tell her, as if she could keep from falling into the immense hole beneath her by sheer willpower alone. "Now pee."

And she would pee, and I would pull her off the seat and tell her to wipe, and she would wipe. She'd also try to wipe up any stray pools of liquid she spotted around the toilet.

"Uh-oh! Somebody spilled, daddy," as she started to drag her hand and the incredibly inadequate square of toilet paper it held through a viscous puddle of fluid.

"AHHH! NO! Don't do that! Don't touch anything! No!"

So after we got through the ensuing bout of sobs because daddy yelled, we pulled up her panties and redid her overalls and flushed and scrubbed her hands, and scrubbed daddy's hands, we went back out to the Stairs of Death, which she got to walk down on her own, because two teary episodes in five minutes was enough for me.

Down the stairs we went, at a pace that would've caused grannies with walkers to sniff in impatience, back to our row and through the forest of knees back to our seats. Folding seats, mind you, that Ngnat insisted on crawling into herself. This usually resulted in her getting one or more more feet stuck in the crack between the seat and the back of the chair when she overbalanced at the wrong time. And when I say usually, I mean every time, and she was in and out of that seat all night long.

She didn't care for this at all when it happened. In fact, she expressed her displeasure at length, while I tried not to curse audibly, and wrestled with extricating what were for the situation absolutely gigantic toddler shoes from their padded vise.

Once removed, and sat down, and told in no uncertain terms to Sit Still, Ngnat would watch the circus for a bit, especially if elephants were involved in the proceedings, then get up and dance around, or sit on the cold concrete floor and stare at the back of the neck of the poor Chinese man in front of us. I think she was looking for marks. She had kicked him a couple of times earlier in the evening, before I noticed what she was doing. He never said a word. I spent a good portion of my time after that preventing her from striking again. By that point, I preferred her out of the chair. At least I knew where her feet were, then.

"Finally," I would think. "Now I can relax."


That damn Woundwort chuckled every time I had to squeeze past him.

Posted by Bigwig at February 6, 2003 12:08 AM | TrackBack
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