A good few years back I was listening to a podcast by a Buddhist teacher. A student had asked him how he would react in a rather tense hypothetical situation, the student was obviously expecting the teacher to say he’d be all ‘zen’ and not get stressed out. But this teacher didn’t say that , he went into detail about it’s hard to know how anyone would react until they were actually in any kind of situation and all the meditation practice in the world might not prove to be of any help at all in certain circumstances. Yesterday I had one of those circumstances.
After a rather lovely 2 weeks in Sweden with my wife and 2 kids I decided to nip back to Blighty to see some family ,some mates and also make sure my Yoga Empire* was behaving itself. Being the rather thoughtful soul I am, I took Easy my 2 year old nutcase with me – with Lina (wife) and Boo ( 5 going on 15 year old daughter) heading back to LA. After a weeks’ worth of Manchester and 2 days in London, Easy and I headed to Gatwick for the 14.10 eleven hour and twenty minute schlep on Norwegian Airlines back to LA. I had food, water, lollipops, IPad , paper and crayons – basically the works for any normal 2 year old on a long haul flight- what possibly could go wrong.
After being in the air literally 5 minutes Easy** had managed to knock a cup of water all over my groin area which made me looked like I’d wet myself. I was chair bound until it dried off – cheers son. But this was very small beer compared to what the little sod had in store for me not too long after. He nodded off for a while which gave me the opportunity to listen to some zen podcast about zen – my favourite pastime. I realise this might sound a bit boring to some people but It’s pretty crazy stuff I kid you not( ok it is boring ). After a rather shorter snooze than I’d hoped for Easy was awake and ready to twist my melon big time. We were playing ‘lets draw all over dad’s favourite music magazine game when I smelled something rather unpleasant. My heart dropped, ‘maybe he’s just farted’ I thought clutching at a bag of big straws. I pushed him forwards to see my worst fears being realised 5000 feet in the air. The dreaded BP ( BP is short for bath poo , my wife and I came up with this – it’s basically when your kid does a number two and the only way to deal with it is to stick them in the bath – fully clothed). But this was not just a normal BP this was BPXL and then some. I quickly picked him up underneath his armpits held him as far away from myself as I could trying to ensure I didn’t actually knock him into another passenger , and marched into the smallest space possible for a toilet. If there was a soundtrack to this story think Ave Santini (Omen theme tune).I stood him on the toilet lid and stripped him down to the buff – it was literally everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE – it had murdered the nappy he was wearing and was down his legs into his socks and up his back. I had to play the the child poo version of Operation ( google if you don’t know this game it’ll make sense ) trying to ensure as I unclothed him that the 3 layers of number twos that covered his tops and bottoms didn’t cover any further body parts – big fat fail. It got wiped on his ears his chin in his hair and of course Easy wanted to add his own soundtrack to all this by wailing as loud as possible so anyone passing would think I was shoving hot pins in his backside.
Things got worse.
Obviously I had to try and clean his caked clothes with only a wash basin fit for Tom Thumb to do it in. Oh and how is the drainage system in the aforementioned wash basin – why it’s a load of shit Matt I hear you say. Yes so now I had a screaming child and a wash basin full of water with brown floaties ( I’m sorry for the kiddie manure minutiae here but the small details are important). It wasn’t draining and I couldn’t have walked out of the cubicle leaving it to fester. I saw a bottle of hand wash and had the genius idea of pouring out the soap and using the empty bottle to scoop up the soiled water and pour it down the toilet. Ok I got Easy off the toilet and stood him in the far corner of the modest bathroom (this is Estate Agent speak for ‘the bathroom is fecking tiny mate ’) and proceeded to unscrew the top of the hand wash. Except it wouldn’t unscrew. I yanked and yanked until BOOM the top came off and out came the hand soap literally covering every bit of me and Easy (and cubicle ceiling) that wasn’t already covered in crap. Oh happy days. If there was a human car wash on the plane I would have been sorted but there wasn’t #obvs. I’d like to say at this point to all those of you reading this who don’t have kids but are thinking about it , please don’t let this blog put you off – it’s really ace. So after literally the best part of an hour of cleaning and scooping and washing (and Easy’s wailing) we were ready to go back to our seats. So at this point I realised I didn’t actually have any more clothes for him except for another nappy (a nappy is a diaper for all my US brothers and sisters) and another pair of pants. I put all his washed but still stinking clothes into some sick bags and gave him my tee-shirt to wear. At least I had a jacket which I had to put on and zip up – didn’t think it would serve any purpose going for that unzipped Miami Vice jacket over bare skin vibe. We sat down exhausted and still smelling despite my best efforts with 2 bags of wet wipes and the hand soap scraped off the toilet walls.
It got worse.
Ten minutes later he did the same thing again, I kid you not. It wasn’t quite the Armageddon shit show I’d just experienced but it wasn’t far off. Back to the toilet washing him down etc – you get the jist by now. Except this time there was a massive big fat problem – no more clothes – the tee that I had given him to wear was washed and sentenced to the sick shit bag and I was facing the real dilemma of arriving into the US and having to go through immigration with Easy wearing nothing but my summer jacket and me naked from the waist up. You can just picture the very lovely officers at the US Immigration being totally understanding… NOT – we’d have been put on the next plane back to London. Help came to our rescue when I decided to speak to the cabin crew – I’m having an emergency situation I said to a young chap – he took one look at my shell-shocked face and felt my pain. He sat us down and went and got a tee and pair of shorts from his own luggage for Easy – it was too big but given the potential shirtless immigration situation I was facing I’d make it work. I managed to blag a couple of nappies from a couple with a small baby and forced Easy into them. I think he wanted to complain given the size of the tiny nappy but even he at 2 years old could see in my eyes that one more peep from him and I was jumping out the plane.
We landed not long after and got through immigration without too much fuss – even though Easy looked like some kind of hippy child in his body length Kaftan tee-shirt.
So coming back to the first paragraph of hypothetical situations – I’m sure you’d expect someone like me who has done plenty of yoga and meditation to be able to be totally zen in the above ‘shit happens ‘ predicament but the truth is that I lost my shit big time (after being covered in it) Hey I’m not perfect sue me 😉 Please try not think of any of this when I’m adjusting you next.
** ok any idiot who decided to call their kid Easy get what they deserve.. I now know this.
#The blog title Shit Happens was inspired by Buddhist teacher Stephen Batchelor who reframed the Buddha’s first noble truth of life is suffering / there is suffering to the more contemporary ‘Shit Happens’!