I’m staying with my sister in Berlin, Germany right now. She has a 14-month-old son and I’ve learned a lot from seeing my sister’s and her husband’s new lives. First and foremost: don’t have kids. Second, if you ignore my advice, crap will become a big part of your life.
From changing diapers 38 times a day to attempting to rush the kid to the toilet every time he says the word ‘crap’ (or in this case the equivalent German word), which happens every few minutes, to the seemingly constant smell wafting off him, you just can’t get away from the stuff.
The other day we took him to a restaurant and within minutes, he had filled his diaper. As usual, he was proud of his achievement and announced it loudly to the poor waiter who came by to take our order as well as anyone else within earshot, which included most of central Berlin.
Companies that make diapers and toilet seats for babies have taken full advantage of the ubiquitous presence of crap in young parents’ lives, but what about other business opportunities? How about children’s books? Funny you should ask. A quick browse through my nephew’s bookshelf reveals this little gem:
It’s been translated into English as The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit, but a more accurate translation would be About the Little Mole Who Wanted to Know Who Pooped on His Head.
The story is extremely complex with multiple layers of psychological intrigue unseen since Dostoevsky, but I’ll try to simplify it for you. One morning, the little mole pops out of his hole just in time for a pile of crap to fall on his head.
He spends the rest of the day going around to various animals and asking them if they were the ones who pooped on his head.
While investigating the incident, he continues to wear his crap hat; I have no idea why he doesn’t take a quick shower first—clearly there is some deeper symbolism here that is just way above my head. Each animal in turn explains that they couldn’t have been the culprit, since their crap does not look like the pile on the mole’s head. Then they demonstrate.
Their demonstrations come with written German sound effect words that perfectly fit what the poop in question might sound like, but most, like the sound effect for the cow pie above, are simply untranslatable. Others, like the rabbit, can be translated more easily.
Basically, the rabbit poop fires out like a machine gun with a ‘ratatat’ sound effect. After making his rounds of the farm, the mole eventually happens on some flies who are busy—you guessed it!—eating a pile of crap. As connoisseurs of poop, they not only eat the mole’s head clean, but they are also able to identify the culprit.
It turns out it was a local dog, who coincidentally has the most German name ever: Hans-Heinerich. As I am new to the world of the little mole, I did not realize this, but my sister informs me that Hans-Heinerich the dog and the little mole have somewhat of an ongoing rivalry.
Given that, the mole is naturally unable to let the affront go and climbs up on the dog house to quickly fire off a little sausage that lands, with its own little ‘pling’ effect, directly on the dog’s head. Revenge complete.
Now, some of you may feel the subject matter of this literary masterpiece is completely inappropriate for a young child—the Amazon.com link I posted above has a few one-star reviews that certainly think so—but personally I see no harm.
My sister’s, brother-in-law’s and nephew’s lives basically revolve around crap—a natural human function—and anyone who’s been to a farm with a child knows that a natural curiosity will draw the child to the subject, so why not face it head on and discuss it openly. Besides, it’s a German book and the Germans are world famous for enjoying crap: