The blanket sign on cars with a little human inside is usually a ‘Baby on Board’ sticker.
A small portion of creative parents customise the wording and add pictorials to make them fancy, while the rest, myself included, stick to the boring white paper with black writings.
My car needed more than the fair share of a baby on board sticker, it required one written ‘Potty on Board'.
I’ll tell you why.
I am the proud father of a young man who of all the things, got attached to his potty, and he was specific about that particular sky blue one he used on his first ever training.
That is a bond I have struggled to explain to date; sort of the lion-baby oryx affair.
I had underestimated the strength in this affair until one fine Sunday morning when I dressed my boy, threw a diaper on him then together we drove to church.
There was no cause for alarm even as the service started, until we got into the broth of the preaching and the young man pulled an SOS on me.
Daddie . . . Pottie
Pottie . . . Pupu.
Poop in the diaper.
Ah ah, pottie.
In other words, he did not want to retrogress. Maybe that would have dented his self-esteem, I don’t know. I decided to ignore, convinced that he would get too pressed and just relieve himself. Mistake.
Turns out there are some things in parenthood you can ignore and let time work wonders; this was not one of them. He did what most children do when they feel ignored: he slid into tantrum mode.
I happen to be one of those parents who will not look the other way while a young one screams their lungs out in a public yet quiet environment like church, but I probably need that sort of anaesthesia.
It requires a lot of guts and attitude to look calmer than a cucumber when a hundred plus eyes are staring at you angrily for your child’s noise making.
Seeing that this had gotten out of hand, I decided to dash out of church and go back to the house for his potty.
Thanks to the wonderful leadership this country boasts our road is one long winding stretch of potholes and rocks, with a few craters here and there.
Then I heard a soft groan in the back seat. I turned to see him making faces that words cannot successfully describe.
Evidently, the struggle to make it to the potty was not bearing fruit, we had officially lost the battle.
My nose caught the stench, confirmed in not so long by a swarm of flies that soon took interest in my car. I was alternating between steering to avoid potholes and swatting flies off the car.
At that point I asked myself; how come we never see flies following these exhauster trucks that dot our roads yet all they carry is poop?
Meanwhile I was choking on the smell. What had this boy been eating? It is me that had always fed him but these exhaust fumes could not have been products of what my kitchen offered.
I ensured that he took a balanced diet plus lots of water, but seemingly the end product pointed at him needing a stomach x-ray.
The only sensible decision was to just get home, wash and change his outfit then head back. So much for the effort, and fuel.
The first thing I did when I got to the house was throw the controversial potty into my trunk so that I never experience a repeat of this. I was so close to adding the ‘Potty on Board’ sign so that the day people see me parked by the roadside they know a young human has decided to answer a call of nature at the worst time.
There was a feeling of regret in me; that if only I reacted quick enough when he first mentioned what he wanted, I would have salvaged the situation.
I also appreciated how and why it is easy for a mother to pull out her breast and shove it down a baby's mouth without a care of who is watching.
At that point in time, what the baby wants, the baby gets, it is just a code in parenting that gets thrown at you when you least expect. Public scrutiny or embarrassment stop making sense.