Nothing Grosses Me Out Since Becoming A DadJoel Stein
These are things that grossed me out: Raw chicken, garbage, toilet brushes, feces, blood, touching animals, emptying kitchen sink drains, horror movies. They freaked me out so much that I’d avoid dealing with them at nearly all costs, including having an apartment so disgusting no woman wanted to come over.
These are the things I’m grossed out by after having a baby: Nothing.
It’s not a gradual desensitization. You watch a woman give birth and lose your prissiness pretty fast. A few hours later, I was back at home, watching a woman cook my wife’s placenta and turn it into pills. And I ate mixed nuts while she did it.
Even if you don’t have a wife who lives in L.A. and goes to too much yoga and thinks eating her own organ is completely natural, parenthood still removes your gag reflex immediately. You bring the baby home, and the first thing you’re wiping off his ass is meconium feces made of old, clotted mucus. And the stuff doesn’t come off easy. It’s like stepping off the chopper in Nam and seeing the guy in front of you shot, only instead of blood, he bleeds feces made of old, clotted mucus.
In the first few weeks of my son’s life, I was nonchalantly wearing spit-up-and-urine soaked shirts, batting baby pee with my hand, taking projectile poo in the face. I wiped snot onto my hands, sucked his snot from a straw. I washed my hands from diaper poop solely because I knew it was unsafe. At any moment, I had more drool on me than Jackie Tudor did in eighth grade when I made out with her.
So when people acted disgusted by a video Alicia Silverstone posted of her pre-chewing her baby’s food and feeding it to him from her mouth, I was shocked. As she wrote on her blog, she merely “fed Bear the mochi and a tiny bit of veggies from the soup … from my mouth to his. It’s his favorite … and mine.” I was more disgusted by the flavor combinations.
My son is always shoving stuff in my mouth that he’s gnawed on, and I’m always grabbing half-eaten stuff off of his plate when he’s finished. I’ve gotten so desensitized that I’ve been on business lunches and asked if people wanted to order the soup to share.
And if you’re worried about her kid — who, after all, is on the grosser side of the kiss-feeding equation I’m pretty sure he can handle it. First of all, he’s named Bear. But even my son, who is named Laszlo, cannot be grossed out. He eats stuff off the floor, even when the floor is technically the ground. He has licked my mouth and could not understand why it wasn’t really fun to stick his hand in my pee stream. He also doesn’t get why it’s not cool to pee in his own bath water. I am starting to wonder myself.
I don’t know who these outraged people are who claim to be raising their babies in Downton Abbey, because I’m pretty sure we’re all in the Thunderdome. I think they’re faking their outrage over this Alicia Silverstone thing.
Since all parents become more animal-like than we’re comfortable with, we’re desperate to draw some lines. Every stripper I’ve interviewed thinks porn stars are debauched, and porn stars look down on escorts, and prostitutes think street hookers are disgusting. I’ve never talked to a street hooker, but I’m guessing they look down on guys who find excuses to interview strippers, porn stars, and escorts.
So we are thrilled to define ourselves as non-kiss-feeders. We may not shower some days, we may eat from unfinished stage three plum jars, we may keep a dirty diaper on the table all day, we may have nipple stains on our shirts, but we do not feed our kids from our mouths. That’s for birds. And attractive movie stars. It’s nice to feel superior to them too.
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