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What No One Told Me About Becoming a Dad

I'm glad I'm in good company, but while I'm all for learning valuable life lessons, it would have been really nice if someone had given us a heads-up about this one.
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Two weeks in as new parents, I felt like my wife and I had a decent rhythm going. My wife and son had come through delivery just fine. We were doing our best to adjust to less sleep. We'd gotten a pretty good handle on what needed to be done -- watch him, feed him, change him, hold him, repeat.

It was right about that time -- when all this confidence was flowing through me, when I felt like I was catching up -- when my son did something that astonished me. Something that I was completely unprepared for. Something that we absolutely, positively did not see coming, but apparently is some sort of strange rite of passage for new parents.

What happened? My son pooped on the wall.

Now, I'm not saying my weeks-old son attempted to fill his diaper when he was somewhat near or adjacent to a wall, and the diaper failed to contain the mess. I'm saying that -- lying on his back on the changing table - I watched his movement hit the wall from two feet away, shooting at high velocity.

It hit with such power that it splattered high on the wall, with a not insignificant amount then ricocheting back onto the underside of the changing table.

I want to back up just to make sure we all understand this. His poop fired with such force that it hit a wall two feet away and bounced roughly 18 inches back to the edge of the table. That's three and a half feet -- greater than the average vertical leap of most men.

My son's poop can fly further than you can probably jump.

Not knowing at all what to do, I called immediately for my wife, doing so in a way that made it seem like he'd either fallen off the table or eaten a bag of glass. You know, something horrible. She, not surprisingly, rushed to the room in a panic to see that (a) he was absolutely, 100 percent OK, and (b) oh my gosh it's all over the place.

Later, my wife told me I shouted "there's poop everywhere" while she was running in, but I have no memory of saying that. When you watch your son's bottom turn into a roman candle of gross for the first time, basic things like what you're saying or the date and time fade rather quickly into the background.

We immediately began triage. My wife took over the diaper change from me just as our son began to empty his bladder all over himself, her and the changing table. I ran downstairs and tried to figure out how to clean the wall, eventually taking the conservative approach -- dish soap, warm water, sponge.

I went back upstairs and started giving everything a good soap down, discovering that the splash zone extended further than I had initially thought. Like the Shamu attraction at SeaWorld, the splash zone is always larger than you think it can be.

My wife finished the job with our son and put him in a fresh diaper and a Superman onesie. That was fitting to me, because I thought that no mortal Earth man could have done what my son did. He must have learned that on his home planet of Krypton.

How did we not know this was possible? For all that we had learned about diaper time, no doctor or instructor had mentioned that our son's backside featured such a powerful cannon that it could have repelled the Prussian Army. I even looked it up, and the index of What To Expect: The First Year has no listing for the terms "projectile" or "rocket-like."

Given this glaring oversight, I assumed we had a special little one, so I called my family to share the good news that our son was gifted in a rather unseemly way. Much to my continued surprise, I learned that my son is normal and that everyone knew this was going to happen.

"Oh yeah, that happens," my mom told me. "And then he'll do it right before you need to be somewhere, like a doctor's appointment."

You'll only have enough time to clean him up before you go, she said, and so you'll spend the entire appointment thinking about a mess that's hardening and drying more as each minute ticks by.

Hardening. Drying. I shuddered.

You'll come home, put him down for a nap and then start to scrub, she told me. She also said it'll get worse when he has stomach issues.

Why didn't you tell me this could happen?

"You wouldn't have believed me," she said.

When I called my sister, she gave me grief for using soap and water to clean it up.

"Amateurs," she said. "Clorox wipes, man. Keep them by the changing table."

Over the past few weeks, I've run this story by a bunch of people, and most shared a similar story of surprise and alarm when things flew from their child. I'm glad I'm in good company, but while I'm all for learning valuable life lessons, it would have been really nice if someone had given us a heads-up about this one.

Let's fix that now. If you know a family expecting their first child, invite them over for a nice dinner, and when the time is right, talk to them about what their future child will be capable of down there.

They, and their walls, will thank you.

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