When I was still taking art classes, I had a session on how to construct a portfolio. One of the tips was, of course, make sure EVERY PIECE is good. And if you’re doing sequential art, show that you actually can DO sequential art, can tell a story through art, not just have a bunch of splash pages and pin ups. But specifically, we were told to have your strongest piece as the very first one, and your second strongest one as the last one. That way, you set the tone with the first piece and then you end on a high note, so people viewing your portfolio are impressed right away and also leave with a good impression.
Then Nesko and I watched a pop sci show about how the brain works, and they just said lead with positive stuff and people gloss over the negative. First impressions super matter, apparently.
But I’m going to stick with what I was originally taught, and I’m going to sandwich some grossness between cute stories.
THE FIRST CUTE STORY
Niko no longer says “yes.”
When I say that, I don’t mean that he’s become suddenly and overwhelmingly negative. I mean that while he agrees to things, the word “yes” no longer passes his lips. Nor does yeah, or as he says it, “yay-uh.” No, it’s suddenly all “Sure” and “Of course.” As in, “Niko, would you like some milk?” “Oh, of course I would!” “Niko, would you please pick up your blocks?” “Oh, sure!” “Niko, would you like a hug?” “Oh, of course I do!”
WHAT EVEN IS THIS.
It’s like he has a secret handbook on being cute.
The other day, I asked him if he would like some applesauce and he said “Of course.” And then he said “Actually, I would really appreciate it if I would have some pudding instead, please.”
I would really appreciate.
OH MY GOD.
Can I have another kid who’s just, like, a copy of him? Because he’s basically perfect. Except not as the next story will reveal.
THE GROSS STORY
At the age of four years and 5 months, Niko has decided that it is HIGH TIME he learns to wipe his own butt. He’s been using up flushable wipes at an alarming rate and we’ve been dealing with random poo fingers here and there. But then yesterday he apparently decided it was TIME TO STOP FUCKING AROUND. He approached wiping his own butt with a grim seriousness. LET’S DO THIS THING, he resolved.
And he started going in the bathroom every half hour to squeeze out some pathetic tiny turd nugget.
He’s kind of obsessed.
And suddenly, we’re back to having pants accidents.
“Mama,” he says sternly. “I had a little bit of a poop accident.”
He is not proud of these.
So I’ve been picking up flecks of feces from the bathroom floor, doing a lot of hand washing, reminding him that he can’t use an entire package of flushable wipes in one go, etc.
And then, just after Nesko got home, I was in the dining room when I saw what looked to my weak eyes to be a a brand new knot hole in the wooden floor. Wait. There was no knothole there before… was there? I prodded it with my toe. It went squish.
I don’t have a lot of expectations out of life.
But one that I cling to is the expectation that I can walk through my house without stepping in shit.
Nesko launched into a long story about how HE was working at a house with DOGS and they had to RUN A LINE and the yard was FULL OF POOP and I’m like, ok. That’s horrible and gross. But that, at least, is outside. In nature. Nature, you know, that thing that is a toilet for wild animals. THE GREAT OUT DOORS IS ONE HUGE TOILET. My house? Not so much. My dining room floor? NOPE.
I just… no.
So then I patrolled the rest of the house, squinting at every smudge and speck, armed with a bottle of disinfectant and paper towels.
And then Nesko gathered Niko into his lap for cuddles and finger nail trimmings, and we discovered a motherlode of poo on Niko’s heel.
THE SECOND CUTE STORY
Niko has a baby.
His baby is named Baby.
Baby is a girl (a DWIR-OLE) except for when she’s a boy.
Baby currently lives in the bouncy seat that he used when he was an infant, that we’re holding on to until Nesko’s sister who just had a baby returns from Europe. At this point, we will have to evict Baby from her perch, her soft and cradling throne.
Niko sometimes carries Baby around, and feeds her cookies (wooden blocks, string, etc) or shares things he’s eating with her. “One little nut for me, and one for Baby. And one little nut for me, and one for Baby.” He invariably eats Baby’s portion, of course. He also brings her small toys, books, and shoes (?) for her to snuggle with so she doesn’t get lonely. And from time to time he decides that baby is taking a nap so he walks around and shushes us all because Baby is sleeping. Then he decides that Baby is fully asleep so we can be loud again. “Baby sure is sleeping hard! She’s a hard sleeper.”
Sometimes Baby needs a diaper change, or Niko decides it’s time to potty train her. He’s very encouraging. He cleans her up and cuddles her and says kind things.
It is the most adorable thing.
It almost makes me forget that I stepped in poop in the dining room.