My daughter has reached that delightful, precursor-to-toilet-training age where, upon filling her nappy or 'producing the goods' (as my mother so euphemistically terms it), she will take off her pants, undo her nappy and leave it wherever she happens to be standing at the time.
Now I'm quite sure that none of you out there would be particularly impressed with a photo of one of the genuine articles mentioned in the above scenario, so here is a photo of how her brother and I react when we discover one of these said articles.
In observing his only sibling evolve from a tiny baby into an independent-minded miniature little lady, my son is both endearingly fascinated and mildly disturbed by some of her behaviours. One of his most frequent questions to me these days is: "Did I do that when I was a baby?"
Last week, after Annalisa had houdinied her way out of her outfit, stripped off her nappy and smeared its contents all over Ben's bike in the time it took me to take the shopping in from the car, he asked me just that.
"Well, you didn't do exactly that", I answered him. "But you did do a couple of things even worse than that which involved poo".
"What were they?" he said, with the intonation of excitement that most nine-year-old boys tend to revert to when talking about poo.
It seems it was time to open the floodgates of memory lane.
"When you were a little bit older than Annalisa is now," I told him, "I thought you were having an extra long sleep-in one morning. I went into your room and discovered that you weren't sleeping at all and that you had done an enormous poo, taken off your pyjamas and your nappy and had painted your cot and the walls in it. It took me all morning to clean the cot and the sheets and your clothes and the walls. And you".
He squealed with laughter.
I actually have photographic evidence somewhere of this natural disaster, but I'm not going to go searching for it as I'm quite sure you'd rather be spared from that too. I will say, however, that it was an event which cemented itself firmly in my mind forevermore as the a-poo-calypse.
And yet, this is not even my most memorable poo story.
"What's the other thing I did with poo?" he asked, jumping up and down on one leg in anticipation.
As I whiped poo off Ben's bike, he sat down on the grass beside me and seeing as this was one of those rare occasions where I had his complete attention, I told him that story too. It went like this ...
When he was little and we lived up in the tropics in Darwin I'd often let him run around in just his nappy if we were just at home for the day.
That meant it was really easy for him to undo his nappy whenever he wanted to and as he got older he used to do it a lot. Sometimes he'd take the nappy off even when there was nothing in it just so he could run around naked. (He squealed with laughter again when I said the word 'naked').
One afternoon, I was waiting for an electrician to come round to our house and fix up a problem we had with the electricity in the lounge room. When he arrived and knocked on the door, I realised that Ben had taken off his nappy again. I located the nappy, but because it didn't have any wee or poo in it (insert giggles) I put it back on him and answered the door.
This was the first time I'd met this electrician. I didn't tell Ben that he was of Mediterranean heritage and about a generation and a half older than I was. I left that out because I thought the significance of this information would probably be lost on him. What happened during the electrician's visit was bad enough without adding the fact that Mediterranean men, particularly ones belonging to older generations, usually have very set ideas about how a housewife should look after a home. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
At first the electrician was really friendly and chatty and told me what a beautiful baby Ben was. I asked him if he'd like a coffee, he said yes, and I went off to make it while he checked all the electrical plugs in the lounge room.
When I came back with the coffee, it was like he was a completely different person. The smile had left his face.
'It's all fixed', he said flatly.
'That was fast', I told him.
He grunted something inaudible.
I handed him the coffee and he drank it so fast I'm surprised he didn't burn a hole in his gullet.
'I'll send you the bill in the mail', he said, handing back the cup, packing up his toolbox and heading out the door. without so much as a 'thank you' or a 'goodbye'.
After he left, I stood there in the loungeroom and pondered what had just occurred. How was it possible for someone to walk in the door in such a good mood and to exit it ten minutes later in such a bad one for no apparent reason? It couldn't have been that he didn't like the way I made coffee; he was grumpy before I even handed it to him. Was it something I said? But it couldn't be - I hadn't said anything to him between asking him if he wanted a coffee and brining it back to him.
I paced around the room trying to make some sense of it all and then, as I rounded the corner and stepped behind the sofa I saw it ...
Right there on the floor, in front of a power point, hidden from view from where I had been standing before, was a great, ginormous log of poo.