The Missing Instinct
As a parent, a good deal of my time and energy are focused on poop. The frequency, color, quality, smell, and how to clean it up as efficiently as possible. That said, no matter how cute my baby is, cleaning up his poop is never enjoyable. Poop, anywhere other than in the potty, is gross.
When my infant Hayden was old enough to start exploring what’s inside his diaper, I quickly distracted him, lest his hands be soiled with bacteria-ridden fecal matter. When my crawling Hayden had a blowout, I was tempted to just throw the clothes away. When we went through potty training and discovered poop on the rug, I scrubbed and sanitized to the point of almost ruining the carpet fibers. So, you can imagine how appalled I was when, during a potty stop on the way out the door to Kindergym, Hayden shoved both hands into the bowl to splash and squish what he had made. Both hands came up smeared. I tried not to yell.
“No, no, no, we never, ever, ever touch poo poos and wee wees!”
“Poo poos and wee wees are germie- we never, never, never touch poo poos and wee wees!”
“Poo poos and wee wees will make you sick! We never touch!”
We wiped, washed, sanitized, and washed again. And the next day, he did it again. This time, both hands AND the tummy smeared.
We wiped, washed, sanitized, and washed again. And then he had a bath. And we were late to Kindergym.
All of this started me thinking. Babies are born with certain instincts. They can suck to get food. They cry when they need something. They are drawn the the scent and sound of their parents. They turn away when offended or overwhelmed. Why do they not have the instinct to turn away from excrement, a foul substance that is physically harmful if swallowed?
I did some online research, browsing through various parenting sites and web-boards. I never did get an answer to this, but I did find out what to do about the original problem of poo poo play. Cold shower. You see, a bath is a reward. It’s warm, bubbly, and fun- everything a cold shower is not. So, when Hayden went back for more a few days later, that’s exactly what I did. I was feeling a little lenient, so I did more of a cold dunk/splash (no wet hair), but he did NOT like it. And, two weeks later, his hands are still poo-poo-free.