All right, dads, you haven’t earned your father stripes until you’ve gotten in the trenches and gotten dirty. Yeah, I mean really dirty.

No! You say.

Yes, say I. You’re not officially in the dad club until you’ve changed your fair share of diapers. Sorry, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it—and no, that someone isn’t always your wife.

I have my share of diapering horror stories and funny tales. I love telling my buddies how, when my daughter (our firstborn) was about six months old, my wife had to work on a Saturday morning, leaving me to watch the baby. Now, at that time, my wife was a manager of the apartment complex we lived in, so “the office” was literally only a few hundred meters away. But it was a cold and rainy day, and the wifey took the car so she didn’t have to get wet. Her last words as she left were, “Call me if you need the car and I’ll bring it home, ok?”

Heh heh. Famous last words if I ever heard them.

The morning went uneventfully. My daughter and I have always been good friends, even when she was tiny; I took her everywhere with me, draped over my arm like a warm little pink football, and she was great company. However, after a while, she double-crossed me. For a long time she sat, happy as a clam, in her bouncy chair, with this big grin on her face. Occasionally she’d make a funny little grunt. I thought it was cute.

Then the smell hit me.

Guys, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it before, but seriously, how do babies take babyfood and breast milk or formula and turn it into toxic waste?

This was a diaper disaster of epic proportions. It was bigger than the diaper itself; this was, in terms of hierarchy of evil, the Sith Lord of Poo. My beautiful, happy little girl had produced something akin to Jabba the Hutt, but much bigger and uglier, and not nearly so sweet-smelling, I’d imagine.

I was frantic. I dashed around looking for the proper tools to deal with the emergency. I grabbed my barbecue tongs, then discarded them—I wanted to use them again, after all. I checked the kitchen, hoping that my wife had some kind of special asbestos apron and gloves or something, because there was no way I was touching that with my bare hands. I must’ve looked like a headless chicken or lost satellite circling the house frantically. My daughter’s mood was rapidly going downhill, doubtless owing to having to sit in that disgusting stuff. I am surprised it didn’t melt her away. I was beginning to despair. I thought about calling my wife and begging for help, but I knew she’d laugh and tell me to suck it up and change the diaper, then probably hang up on me. I still had another three hours before she got off work…Then the solution struck me.

You remember that scene in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” when the Grinch gets his big evil plan? That smile that spreads across his face like poison? That was me.

A few minutes later, my wife came walking in and handed me the car keys, but I didn’t look up from the computer where I was studiously tapping away. I couldn’t have ever kept a straight face. “Where are you going?” she asked, then crossed the room to pick up our daughter and coo at her. Her happiness quickly turned to disgust; she held the baby at arm’s length, trying not to breathe, and cried, “My God, what have you done?” She turned and looked at me incredulously. “I hope you were planning on changing her before you go out!”

Without turning around, I said, “I’m not planning on going anywhere. I just wanted the option. Since you’re here, can you change her?”

You could’ve heard the door slamming from about ten miles away.

Needless to say, I changed the diaper. And my wife didn’t speak to me for about three days.

So, dads, you gotta just roll up your sleeves, put a clothespin on your nose, and get to it. You had an equal part in creating that child…act like it.