Bob has fond memories of young family ­ diapers and all

Bob has fond memories of young family � diapers and all by Bob Karolevitz It�s been a long time since we had babies at our house. More than 40 years actually.

I must have been a lousy father, to hear Phyllis tell it. After all this time she still gets a kick out of sharing the details of the Great Diaper Caper with anybody who will listen.

Admittedly I was the squeamish sort who made myself real scarce when it came to changing time. On one occasion, though, I couldn�t get out of it � and that�s what Phyllis likes to tell about.

It was during the era of the cloth diaper, not the disposable kind. I had done the gosh-awful thing ever so gingerly and was rinsing the diaper in the john just as I had seen Phyllis do when she had finished the periodic chore.

Unfortunately it slipped out of my fingers into the toilet. Then, to make matters worse, I turned the flush handle.

You get the picture!

The diaper stuck part way down and clogged up the plumbing. Of course I didn�t tell my wife. What she didn�t know wouldn�t hurt her, I thought.

That is, until the bowl overflowed with the next flushing. Obviously my secret was out.

Needless to say, we had to call the plumber who dislodged the diaper with his �snake.� He also dislodged a big chunk out of my wallet.

It was a good news, bad news proposition. The bad news was how expensive it was; the good news was that Phyllis never let me touch a diaper again.

To refresh my memory, I reread the Wee Me books which Phyllis had prepared for both girls. Everything was in her handwriting, so I guess I didn�t contribute anything to them either.

I read that when feeding time came, I also was not much help. Maybe it was my lack of patience, or probably it was the fact that I didn�t do well shoveling rice cereal into tiny mouths. Burping the little ones was not my cup of tea either.

I must have done something right, though, because � according to Wee Me entries � both Jan and Jill said �Daddy� as their first word.

Actually it was kind of fun reading what Phyllis wrote. Like the good mother she was, she told of first teeth, first birthdays, first Christmases and even when the girls first sat up.

Me? I most likely was too busy trying to earn enough to pay for the Pablum, the rice cereal and the Similac, not to mention the bill of the plumber who came to unplug our john.

Neither Phyllis nor I remember my getting up at night to walk the floor with a squalling child. Either I was oblivious to childish needs, or my wife forgot to write down what I did as a father in the dark of night.

I suppose I was a reasonably good dad. I did what I thought I should do. It just didn�t get recorded in the Wee Me�s along with baby teeth, potty training the first steps.

We tend to look back through rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that � despite our economic doldrums � those were the best of times. I can still remember when the girls fell asleep to the rhythmic clank-clank-clank of the platen press in the basement beneath their room as I printed late at night just to make a buck.

I had to. After all, I had two more mouths to feed, whether I made it in Wee Me or not.

� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

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