It’s that time of year again…New Year’s. These days, that no longer means wild parties and copious amounts of alcohol for me—more like a glass of Two Buck Chuck chardonnay and asleep on the couch by 9 pm (hey, I’m not proud but I’m not ashamed either—nothing, NOTHING, trumps sleep anymore. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.). It’s also a time for Resolutions—or, as I like to call them, Opportunities to Fail.
As a kid, I used to love making New Year’s Resolutions. I had a sort of Jillian Michaels streak back then—I believed that as resolutions go, the more the better and the more extreme the better. Collect money for homeless cats! NO, wait! Give all my allowance every week to homeless cats! NO, wait! Build a kennel in the basement and take in homeless cats! My heart was in the right place, but usually by January 3rd I had given up and gone back to reading “Sweet Valley High” and doodling in my Trapper Keeper.
As an adult, I gave up resolutions because, let’s face it, I don’t like failure. But something happened recently that made me rethink my position. I was building a train track with my 1-year-old when I let out a…how shall I say it?...a zephyr, as my grandma called them. A toot. The call of the Barking Spider. OK, it is what it is: I farted. And though I consider myself to be fairly feminine and ladylike (stop laughing), apparently this one was less zephyr and more hurricane because my son looked around, confused, and asked, “Daddy???”
The thing about tooting is that it’s one of those bad habits—like swearing and eating microwave popcorn for dinner—that you can get away with when you have a little baby. “It’s ok!” you tell yourself. “He’s just a baby, he doesn’t understand! I’ll worry about it when he’s older!” But then, before you know it you have a fairly astute preschooler and a no-filter, mimicking toddler. Eventually, you have to watch your mouth, eat something green, and, I guess, stop farting in front of your kids.
I swear I wasn’t always this crass. In my 20s, I would hold a toot in for DAYS while my long-distance boyfriend was in town for a visit. But you get older, you have babies, you take time off work to stay home, and things…well, they change. I no longer spend my days in a classroom dealing with students, administrators, and parents. Most of the time, it’s just me, the cats, and my two boys. There are no great standards of decorum here. My 3-year-old runs around mostly naked all day and quite frequently demands that I “smell this butt!” My 1-year-old likes to announce to anyone who will listen that “Daddy has pee-nit!” and “Mommy has nigh-na!” For them (and, let’s be honest, for their dad as well), tooting is a common event, always at least acknowledged (“I tooted, Mommy!”) or even celebrated (“William, did you hear that noise that sounded like thunder? I tooted!”) Big or small, all toots are funny to them. Tub toots usually garner the most laughs (What’s funnier than a fart? A fart that bubbles!), and a super loud toot, or “toot quake” as we like to say, can stop a conversation dead in its tracks with fits of giggles.
Now, I know passing gas is a natural bodily function and in no way do I expect my kids to stop doing it. And I spent enough time hanging out in fraternity houses in college to know that a well-timed toot can, indeed, be funny. But—and maybe it’s a little bit sexist—as the lone female in this family I seem to shoulder most of the responsibility for modeling social graces in this regard. I may be fighting an uphill battle in this house of boys and men, but my one and only New Year’s resolution this year is to model proper tooting etiquette at all times: Hold ‘em in when you can, say “excuse me” when you can’t.
And if you absolutely, positively have to let one rip, wait until Daddy is telling that poignant story, the one that always makes him cry, about the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Olympics. There’s a cookie in it for you if you do.