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Nappies No More

Nappies No More

Issue 59 August 2009

I never thought I would miss nappies. I remember the elation I felt when my youngest child was finally toilet trained, thinking I had freed myself from the expense and mess, but sometimes I look back on those times whimsically.

We are on a car journey, me and all four children. I am anxious enough as I don’t know where I am going, trusting the Sat Nav will get us there safely. And then the inevitable cry from the back comes, “MUM! I need the toilet.” It’s Maria my six year old.

I had deliberately tried to prevent this, the unscheduled toilet stop, the bane of many a driving parent. Before we had set off I had asked the whole gang to “go and spend a penny”. Of course Maria had refused, “I’ve just been, Mum”. “Are you sure? I don’t want to stop on the way,” I asked. “Mum, I’m sure I don’t need to go.”

Twenty minutes into the journey, just after we had driven past a service stop, Maria pipes up, “Mum I need to do a wee”. “I told you I wasn’t going to stop – you will just have to wait!” I will not bend. There is silent wriggling in the back for the next few minutes. She is being advised by her siblings. “Try crossing your legs” Hiba, her four year old sister suggests. “Just don’t think of water!”Hakim adds. This seems to have the opposite effect. “MUMM... I can’t hold it anymore!”

Faced with the prospect of having not only a sodden child but also a sodden car seat, I pull into a lay-by. I walk with Maria to a tree and leave the kids in the car, singing. “Mum, I cant!” Maria protests. “Why?”  I ask her. “That bird is looking at me”. There is a crow perched a few feet away and looking at us with inquisitive eyes. “It’s not, just hurry”. “Mum I can’t, it’s staring”. I have to shoo the crow who hops to a further bush, looking at me indignantly. Just then I make out exactly what the choir in the car, conducted by the 11 year old Hakim, are singing...“Mummy and Maria behind a tree, P, I, S.......” “HAKIM!” I shout and hear a fit of giggles. At last Maria is done and we can carry on until the next “Mum, I need the loo”.

The fact is that when they were in nappies, yes it could have been a smelly job, but we didn’t have to have any of the unscheduled stops that we make regularly now. And we could avoid my biggest horror: public conveniences.
Hakim refuses outright to accompany us into the ladies and this coupled with having to attend with all three girls makes for some difficult logistical choices. On one such occasion, the girls and I were standing in the inevitable queue that forms at the ladies toilet. All four of us piled into the next available cubicle. Sobia and Maria quickly did their business and then it was Hiba’s turn. Five minutes later she was still on. “Hiba you have to hurry!” I whispered aware that all that was said here was audible to the queue outside. “Mum you have to be patient!” she instructed, loud enough to carry outside. “Sometimes you have to wait a while, especially if there’s a big one coming. You can’t rush a good poo!” When eventually we did leave, there was a line of amused faces watching the four of us emerge from the cubicle. My cheeks turning pink as I ushered them all out, hearing someone say “Wow, is that a toilet or a Tardis?”
I thought up a solution: divide the job and allocate my husband two children, Hakim and Sobia, aged two, to take with him to the lavatory whilst I deal with the other two. Later that day when yet another pee-stop was called for, things did not go according to plan.

I came out of the ladies with my other two girls to find Sobia soaked and crying loudly, trying to escape the embrace of her also wet brother who was scowling at her. Apparently my husband had asked Hakim to mind Sobia while he used the toilet. During her brother’s supervision, Sobia had noticed the urinal and before he could stop her, she proceeded to immerse her hands into the water and then splash it thoroughly over her face. Hakim tried and stop her, but Sobia began splashing him with the water too. By the time their oblivious father emerged, both children were wet.
“Why did you do that with the water?” Sobia was questioned. “I was doing my wudu” came the emphatic response. Once again my children left me speechless. Beloved nappies – you are sorely missed.

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