I was all ready to do my first long stint of babysitting my grandson. Thus, I would probably be faced with changing his nappy.  I was dreading it.  I hadn’t been near the messy end of a toddler for a few years and then it was my youngest daughter, so I found it didn’t bother me so much.  I liked doing it, in fact, keeping her clean was a good thing.  Mucky cow.  It protects her.  Same as searching her hair for lice, or reminding her to brush her teeth and wash her hands.

Genetically I should feel equally untroubled by my grandson’s nappy.  Daniel Dennett says that evolution insists I should be just as interested in preserving my grandchildren’s genetic heritage as my own child’s.  He’s ‘mine’ too, sort of…   In fact he’s my step-Grandson and therefore we share no genetic material at all.  Maybe that’s it.  Whereas with ‘my own’ girl the oxytocin surge counteracts the naturally occurring disgust when near urine or faeces.
It works with vomit too; one’s child’s vomit isn’t as bad as anyone else’s.  So, is it just the genetics, or that I’m out of practice, or something else?  It might be that he’s a little meat eater and that my nose is particularly sensitive to his meaty poohs.  It reminds me of cat food.
And, to be blunt, I’ve never had to clean anyone’s penis before.  In fact, unless I’m repressing the memory, I’ve never touched any other penis but my own.  Baby-wiping what he calls his ‘wee-wee’ is going to be a first – and it must be good to do something new - but I’d overheard his mum discussing his sore foreskin being too tight to clean under so there was a moment when I was about to say ‘too much information’ before putting my fingers in my ears and making neenorr noises until they stopped talking about it.
So, the genetics, meatiness, and the strange new territories should be enough to explain it – I guess – but I still feel a little bit guilty; unkind, somehow.  It didn’t put me off doing it even though I’m not relishing the prospect, of course, but it immediately crossed my mind when, in her subtle way, she said ‘I’m a bit stuck for a baby-sitter on Monday night’.  Especially when she offered to cook me dinner.  But, with his Dad being in and out of his life, and my being faced with ‘stepping in’ for a bit of ‘manly’ role-modelling, I need to keep those little genitals clean for the sake of the species.  It’s part of my job; an unpredicted consequence of a chance meeting 15 years ago.  Sigh.  I was ready for the bedtime stories, football practice, and endless prattle about dinosaurs; I was even looking forward to boring him with descriptions of my favourite guitar solos, but this, yuk, I’m was a bit un’appy.
CrookedMan CrookedMan
Dec 8, 2012