Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Number 1, Dad!

The comma is in the correct place. This is not about me, or any other father (if you want to see who the Number One Dad is <- click the link, and grab a Kleenex). This blog entry is about my children and how I am concerned with something that you might think is just a "wee" problem. That's right, this is about tinkling.

When my oldest son was about 2, my wife Amy and I introduced Calvin to the great outdoors at my brother-in-law's house. It is a remote location and my wife and I were attempting to get him on the potty training wagon. Then the flood gates opened. We haven’t been able to contain things since.

Back at home, Calvin would sneak out to our yard, whip it out, and practice his new skill. Once, when he was about 4 years old, he climbed up into a tree about 5 feet off the ground just so he could pull his pants down to his knees and water the bushes. I have proof! I was afraid to say anything to him at the time because I thought I might scare him and he would fall out of the tree. I couldn't go out there for support because I didn't want to get sprayed. So I did want any technology inclined father might do, I took a digital picture. I was going to post it here, but I am sure that is not appropriate!

While I do find urination funny at times, I have to try to hide my true feelings and enforce rules that will keep my children from embarrassing me at the next neighborhood picnic. At other times, application of these rules will keep my kids from getting beaten up.

Recently, the family went to the movies to see Iron Man. Afterwards, Calvin and I retired to the men's room to freshen up. The bathroom at the movie theater had a wall with three urinals all side by side. I was on the left, my son in the middle, and a large biker looking dude on the right. Male bathroom etiquette dictates that you pick a spot, aim, and stare at the wall directly in front of you. Looking anywhere else is frowned upon for obvious privacy reasons. The focusing on the single spot in the target area trick is all about minimizing the splash-back on yourself, as well as the people beside you. Calvin ignored all of this and with his head down, gave it the side to side action, with swirlies, and drew 3 dimensional shapes. The stuff is splashing everywhere. I know this because my sandaled right foot was coated with the spray from Niagara Falls. The biker guy finishes up, steps back and, seriously, does a leg shake to show that he has felt the wrath of the Calvinator. He was wearing shorts and got the full artistic effort of my son's porcelain painting. However, luckily for all of us, he said nothing and left. The "man talk" my son and I had on the way out the door was fun. I pray he never forgets it.

Peeing on another male is grounds for a serious butt-whooping, at any age. I am not sure about the laws that are involved, but I am thinking that urinating on another person is nearly a legally indefensible position. I seriously thought I would need to fight a biker in the bathroom that day to protect my son.

My daughter Savannah is my 6 year old princess, and she is able to perform, what I think, is an incredible circus trick. She does her business standing up, like her brothers. I am guessing that this is a special talent only because I have little experience with ladies doing their thing around me, much less standing around and doing it. I know she has done this several times because my wife has caught her with her feet facing the wrong way under the public bathroom's stall door. This is a remarkable feat to me, but as a parent, it creates problems. This is far from being the socially accepted method for liquid elimination by young ladies.

Savannah can be surprising in other ways at bathroom time. She will often intentionally not put the seat down before she goes to the potty and thinks it is very funny that I insist on the seat being down before she makes her attempt. She will actually fight me, and once she gets in the squatted position with the toilet seat up, she hangs on like a cowboy breaking a bronco, hands and feet wrapped around the toilet while continuing to do her thing, yelling the whole time, "Stop it! I gotta go now!" Isn't that slippery and cold?

Sammy is the youngest of the group, at 4, but you can't leave him out of anything. I don't cook well, and I mix colors in the wash, so the division of labor in the house dictates that I am the bath man. When we are short of time I will run the kids through the shower. Ten minutes before the shower I tell Sam to go to the bathroom. He refuses. I insist. He ignores. Finally, I give up and tell him to follow me for shower time. I have no idea how a child that doesn't have a sense of time can know that a shower is coming before I announce it, but he does. I am pretty sure that he saves up all afternoon, and as soon as he gets in the shower he does his best Manneken Pis immmitation. Amazingly, he can bring the top of his arch higher that his own head! That is some serious water pressure.

Over our recent wedding weekend, I completely forgot to remind my wife of Sam's talents when she attempted to give him a shower. It all came rushing back to me as heard her scream, "Sammy, Nooo!" I rushed into the bathroom, saying something helpful like, "What's wrong?"

Amy said, "Sam is peeing all over the place and the shower curtain isn't tucked in!" I quickly ducked out so I could laugh without getting smacked. It was, after all, a hotel bathroom.

It is tough to figure out how to handle these situations so that years from now my children will not be telling their therapist about how I scarred them for life with all of my crazy potty time rules. It might help if I didn't find it funny, or maybe that does help. What do you think? Am I contributing to the future of public urination? Or, will my conflicting sense of humor and unevenly enforced toilet rules make psychoanalysts wealthy some day?

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