Children always fascinate me with the efficiency of their bodies’ ability to function and cleanse itself. Being a dad, I witness on a daily basis in my two boys (2 and 7) the many wonders of nature in its most healthy form, before life starts to ravage it. At 41 years old, everything I do with regard to bodily functions is slightly weird or laborious. I don’t have any specific digestive issues as such, but my body isn’t exactly well-oiled and running like a BMW all the time. My boys, on the other hand, are efficient precision machines, functioning at an award-winning level of proficiency. It’s something I took for granted as a boy myself but now ponder with amazement.
One of the most impressive features of the young body is its ease when using the bathroom. While I’m hunched in front of the the can in the morning squeezing out a leak with all my might, my boys walk in, point their little wiener at the bowl, and shoot out urine at a velocity that resembles a power washer. They can barely get it out of their skid-marked Spiderman briefs before spraying everything out in about 5 seconds while I’m left there bursting a blood vessel in my temple as my tentative stream ebbs and flows with my twitching arse cheeks. The boys’ systems are brand new and working perfectly – just off the lot with lots of warranty left – while my road-weary physique is showing high miles on the odometer. Not that I’m old or anything; I’m just not young. My boys’ wondrous bodies can also squeeze out a dump the size of a football in about 30 seconds while I need to read at least one full feature story in Rolling Stone magazine to keep me company while both my legs fall asleep on the throne. How the hell are their shits way more massive than mine? These things hit the water like a British Navy depth charge in World War II. They are hard as a rock and mean-looking. They look like Godzilla’s ear wax. And no resin. Just pure splash and dry. Insanely efficient. Adults can generate more paperwork than self-employment taxes with just one Hershey Kiss, while kids just bark, buff, and bail.
Look out when they decide to get the stomach flu. Their young bodies can expel the bacteria or virus at the speed of light by just hurling it, without warning, straight from the small intestine right onto the brand new wallpaper. There is not even any discernable sound, just a small guttural heave…and splat. There is no “I think I’m gonna get sick” period. We adults alone own that grace period where we can set up the can for the demeaning “double attack” that destroys both toilet and tub. (You know what I’m talking about.) Kids’ bodies don’t care where they are. The whole house is their toilet when they’re sick. Their young bodies are only concerned with shedding the bug so they can move on with their busy lives of spilling drinks and creating massive amounts of crumbs.
A similar dynamic happens when they get colds and regular flus. They all of a sudden get a fever that makes them delirious. They hallucinate, thrash about, and talk to themselves in very creepy tones. They go nuts for a day or two, then pop right out of it and carry on. As adults we have the day or two of feeling dragged out, followed by the sweats and low-grade fever; we drag through our day anyway because we’re not allowed to lie down unless we are on our way to palliative care. And the bug lingers for a week or more as our bodies fight it off while trying to keep up the pace of working and feeding the kids, who probably dragged home the bug from their germ-infested stinky schools in the first place.
My mental safeguard against this depressing dichotomy between the child and the middle-aged man is simply to learn to appreciate it in all its natural wonder. Every garden hose piss, every humungous dump, every projectile vomit is a reminder that the human body in its initial stages of life is a miracle of efficiency. One day they will know the feeling of hovering, lingering, and languishing. But for now let them enjoy the swift efficiency by which their bodies cleanse themselves.