Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Showers of Blessings

     When Braden was in first grade, Deanne told me one day with a smile and gurgle of restrained laughter that there'd been an incident at school. His teacher had told her that during class the students began laughing and pointing out the window at Braden, who was walking around in his blue dinosaur underwear with his shorts wrapped around his ankles. (The boys' restroom was located just outside class. At home after using the bathroom he walked around half nude and took his time getting dressed, so he must have forgotten his place, which the teacher attributed to absent-mindedness. I thought, “He lives in his own world.” At least it never happened again: embarrassment can be a great teacher.)
     Jaren, who just turned seven, has been in the habit of pulling down his shorts and underwear to just above his knees to pee. At home, its fine. But in public restrooms he's getting a bit too old to do that when tip-toeing to reach the urinal.
     I tell him it's gross to allow his penis to touch the urinal (although I remembered having done so accidentally countless times as a kid his age), to use the toilet stall instead, and to pull down only the front of his pants if he's going to keep the stall door open. He mostly follows my instructions but sometimes has trouble with aim as I sometimes hear Deanne scream at him to stop peeing all over the floor and outside the toilet! I even forbade him not to use our restroom toilet ever again unless he sits down every time, so upset was I to have to clean up after him. (I forced him to clean it himself but of course he did a sloppy job so I had to go at it for fifteen more minutes to eradicate the urine smell.)
     Part of the problem stems from his holding it in until the very last second. Outside in the garage, him playing and me in the midst of a messy refinishing project, he'll stop and ask me to let him in the house (we lock the door) to use the bathroom. “How bad do you have to go?” I'll ask. “Bad,” he'll reply, shifting his feet and squirming like roaches were building a nest in his anus. 
     In the past, I've let him pee in bushes, a laundry room sink, and down a storm drain. But when I've felt generous (and responsible) I've opened the door in haste and watched him dash in and in a flurry lift the toilet seat, pull down his shorts and underwear, and unleash a torrent somewhere in the vicinity of his intended target. By “vicinity” I mean depending on how long he waits; whether his slippers come off cleanly; whether the toilet seat is already up or down; whether the seat gets fumbled on its way up; how cold the floor is; whether there's a cool breeze wafting in from Penelope's room; whether his thumbs catch the insides of his waist bands cleanly the first try; how well his thoughts and body coordinate; and his aim, hand control, attentiveness, and playfulness, his pee may end up either in full or in part: 1) In the toilet (good!), 2) On his clothes (bad!), or 3) Elsewhere outside the toilet (worst!). In short, lots of factors (including mid-pee adjustments) affect where his pee ends up. (Once it ended up in the bathtub because I told him to use it as both toilets were already occupied.)
     (As an aside, boys underwear don't have peekaboo holes in front. Mens underwear do but no one but the most persnickety use them as they're ill designed for that purpose. I won't elaborate except to say there are far more convenient and reliable methods to pee than by first having to navigate through a ridiculous contortionist's wet dream labyrinth. So what're they there for? My guess: expansion, ventilation, aesthetics, and sex appeal, the last being the same reason why lots of guys love their female companions in peek-a-boo underwear.) 
     After church one day, Jaren and I stopped off before leaving to “relieve ourselves of that uneasy burden” (quote from Gulliver's Travels). Jaren was in the toilet stall beside the urinal before which I stood, and as I finished I heard the sound of splashing in inappropriate places and saw upon the floor beside me a puddle form and grow from four to eight to twelve inches in rapid succession. “What are you doing?” I asked in alarm and went over to see Jaren holding a cupcake (for his birthday) and church bulletin in one hand, while his other hand in front of him was hidden from my view. All appeared in order, yet the stream outside the toilet on the walls, floor, and porcelain continued unabated for sickening seconds longer as he appeared to fumble to adjust its errant course.
     One hand peeing can be tricky for the best of them, especially with an uncooperative pants front that flicks out in the line of fire. “Next time ask for help if you want me to hold something,” I said, mentally noting that at least he was peeing big boy style by pulling down his pants and underwear fronts only and not exposing his butt. 
     Upon his finishing (clothes front, floor, and walls saturated), I gave him paper towels to sop up the mess. After several tries, the puddle on the floor was not much smaller, so I dismissed him and went after it myself, with not much better results. I then remembered seeing as we'd entered, the door to a storage room nearby open, so I checked inside and found a mop, wringer, and utility sink, which made my job far easier. As I cleaned, still irritated, I realized that he'll learn in time to pee properly, that some things are just messier to clean than others, and that cleaning up after him wasn't so bad as just a once-over would suffice. And I knew in my heart then as I do now that despite such irritants and inconveniences, I always have and always will love being a dad.

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