My wife and I were on 5-day, fast-paced business trip on the East Coast. Normally, that would be exciting, but there were two main issues with it. First, we were living in Northern California at the time, which meant a full day of flying each way and, second, we had to bring along our two young babies. As any parent knows, traveling with very young children could make a saint crumble in despair. As expected, this journey was absolutely draining on my wife and I, but not on the kids. They seemed to have more energy at the end of the trip than at any other time. The long flight from Boston to San Francisco was completely full, and my wife and I spent the entire flight apologizing to the other passengers for our kids’ behavior.
Once we landed in San Francisco, we were relieved to know that we were almost home. All we had to do was hop on our last flight to Redding. However, we soon found out that it was delayed due to mechanical failure. I turned to my wife and said: “Oh my God—you have got to be kidding me!” We both had panic in our eyes, and I thought she was about to cry. We spent the next two hours giving the kids more ice-cream than normal, and we watched them with weary eyes running around the gate area and bumping into people.
When we finally boarded the regional plane, it was to my surprise that there was one seat free and it was next to me. I placed my 19-month-old son in it, while my wife sat in the row in front of us with our 9-month-old daughter on her lap. Both kids were tired and finally calm, and my wife and I were looking forward to a quiet, 90-minute flight.
All seemed well at first, but shortly after take-off I heard a curious noise coming from my son, followed by a funky odor that could mean only one thing. I leaned him forward and lifted up his shirt: “No, no, no” was all I could mutter at the sight of a brown, poopy ooze creeping out of his diaper—payback for giving him too much ice-cream. The plane climbed higher, and my mind raced to “think outside the box.” I had to wait at least another five minutes before I could leave my seat and take him to the airplane lavatory. I suddenly remembered the extra napkins I had in my pocket and began stuffing them down the back of his diaper. Of course, my son found this extremely entertaining. His giggling rose above the cabin-filled whispers of discontent, and I cringed when I caught passengers craning their necks to glower at me.
Once I got everything under control, I sat back and felt rather proud of myself for swiftly handling the situation with such paternal ingenuity. A few moments later, I glanced at my son just as the poop was making its escape—again.
I frantically shoved more napkins down the front and sides of his diaper, all the while he squirmed and laughed with delight. Before I knew it, poop was leaking out of the bottom of his diaper as well. It was like a scene straight out of a horror movie, as this brown slime broke through all the barriers and was gradually taking my son over.
I watched helplessly, and I did what any good dad would do—I asked my wife what I should do. She chuckled and calmly said: “I guess you just have to wait until you can get up and change him in the bathroom.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I really love my wife, but the amount of bad words streaming through my head, with regard to her useless information, would have made even the toughest biker blush.
The long-awaited cabin “ding” was music to my ears. I scooped up my son under one arm and the diaper bag in the other, and I walked with my head held high to the single lavatory at the front of the plane, leaving a distinct, ice-cream-poop odor wafting behind me.
We crammed into the incredibly small space of the lavatory, and I quickly realized that there was no changing table. How silly of me to think that they would install one. Whatever. At that point, I only cared about changing my son as fast as possible and returning to the seat of poopy shame. I removed my son’s soiled clothes and placed him in the tiny sink. I thought I could just wash him off, but it was just my luck that there was no running water.
I rummaged through his diaper bag: “Damn, I forgot the baby wipes in the hotel!” I looked around to find something else to use and spotted little airline packets of hand wipes.
I started tearing each of them open with my teeth like a wild animal. My son saw it as the beginning to a fun game. He laughed and wiggled while I tried to clean him up. The hand wipes proved to be useless on baby poop as well, but I managed the best I could and disposed of everything in an airsickness bag. In the end, I was proud of the results of my parental call of duty: a clean, presentable child with fresh clothes on.
I opened the door and walked like a pleased papa down the aisle with my son in my arms, disregarding passengers’ disapproving glares and the not-so-fresh cabin air. Upon returning to our row, I saw the remnants of the noxious event on the seat. I casually placed the baby blanket over the “wet spot,” then sat down in my seat and enjoyed the remainder of the trip with my son on my lap. A flight attendant came down the aisle and gave beverages and snacks to the passengers, crinkling her nose when she came to me.
That day, I got off the flight with an extra swagger in my step. I had won a battle—one that only few could ever comprehend, for it was me against the poop. Before I exited the plane, I explained to the flight attendant: “You’ll want to have someone clean up back there—we had a little accident.” She gave me a look of disgust, but I didn’t care. I was super-daddy, and no one could take that from me.