You have a different relationship to effluvia once you're a parent. For instance - when was the last time you had shit on your arms? Those without children might imagine a slight toilet paper malfunction that leaves one finger faecally daubed, but I mean right up your arms, up near the elbow. When was the last time that shit was put there by someone's foot?
At the moment the shit has the consistency, texture, even the smell of cottage cheese. Not a good cottage cheese. Tesco everyday basics, maybe. This makes it less offensive when smeared liberally up my forearms and shirt, but has put us off cottage cheese. As a vegetarian I find this upsetting.
Often the infant will be sitting on one's lap, squirming, squawking, obviously processing a good quantity of Asda own brand. There's nothing to do but egg her on.
'Shit. Shit. Shit, you magnificent bastard! Shit your tiny brains out!'
Eventually she does.
We have avoided any piss-in-the-face episodes, which I have heard are part of the rich tapestry of boy parenting, but piss-in-the-bath is pretty regular. This event causes you to confront your own hard limits. Suppose you were planning to bathe using this water. You are aware that urine is pretty much just water and ammonia - that's practically a cleaning product. If the baby had peed in the bath without your knowledge it would do you not a jot of harm. But you do know. And if you leave the water in now, you are proactively choosing to bathe in baby piss. It's not just icky. It's something a badly medicated celebrity would do in an LA detox retreat
You even treat your own emissions differently. For instance - the baby, after thirty uninterrupted minutes of howling, is asleep, tied to your chest in a harness. You realise that for the last fifteen minutes your bladder has been toiling against the pressure of hot gallons of piss. You attempt to set her down in her crib but no sooner do you unlatch the first clasp on the harness then she is wide awake, shrieking directly into your face. Refix the harness and she is asleep so deeply it resembles a coma. You attempt this a few times, each time unleashing an earsplitting burst of red noise. Several parents and harnessed babies of different sizes could serve as a rudimentary, awful musical instrument. By this point your bladder feels like a car tire is being inflated inside it.
I am not too proud to admit that I have pissed standing up with my baby harnessed to my chest. I plugged her ears with wax, like Odysseus tied to the mast, so she did not hear the siren song of piss hitting pan. But shitting with my baby affixed to me is a motion too far. Her mother may feel differently, given as the infant spent nine months living happily and directly beside her gurgling bowels.
The other great thing about baby shit, besides nothing, is that you come up with all sorts of great metaphors for taking a dump. It's a literary coal mine. For instance:
Opening the Conservative party conference.
Another fine offering by AA Gill.
A lengthy session in the Finnish Parliament.
Giving a Welsh grammar lesson.
Three line whip in the lower chamber.
Letting slip the dogs of war.
Releasing that difficult second album.
Planting flowers at Thatcher's grave.