I’ve never really had to deal with my little ones wanting to be in the bathroom with me while I tended to my business; not like my wife has, at least. I think it might be because I established the space as my territory–with an authoritative bark. Not a literal bark, mind you. Children under five tend to mistaken a literal bark as a kind of game, which could then lead to more barking, running about on all fours and constant peeing on floors, walls, me, in order to mark territory (I’m still amazed at the creativity of small children).
What I have had to deal with—and on a daily basis—is the fact that our bladders all run on the same schedule. It’s either that or their need to pee is triggered by the sight of me heading in the direction of the bathroom. One time, they ran to the bathroom as I was walking past and, when they saw that I wasn’t entering the room, did an about-face, muttering “False alarm, people…false alarm” to the collection of stuffed animals that had been strategically placed in some kind of support-group circle upon the floor.
My two-year-old suffers the most from this ailment and, once the command to make wee shoots into his brain like a rocket-infused cannon ball, it becomes mission critical. We’re talking threat-level orange! Of course, it is at precisely this same moment when the four-year-old announces that he too has to pee and knocks his two-year-old brother out of the way to ensure his spot in line for the toilet.
And all of this ruckus–which occurs over the stretch of twenty-some seconds–comes to light just as I’ve gotten comfortable on my porcelain throne. Yep, that’s when the door flings open (our lock doesn’t work at the moment) and all the typical noise gets drowned out by the simultaneous proclamations of two young boys’ need to pee.
At this point, I tap into the quick-thinking leadership skills that I’ve managed to come by from the four years of rigorous, on-the-job training that is fatherhood. Wasting no time, I pull from my Daddy book o’ vernacular the exact right words needed to diffuse a situation such as this.
Only, I do not literally mean fudge popsicle. This is my substitute word for one that’s much more colorful but cannot be said in front of young children.
My next words are just as calculated.
“Why the…? For the love of…! Son of a RHINOCEROUS!”
These words, while meaningless to the untrained ear, are effective in releasing the necessary tension that has built up in the I-need-to-murder-something-right-now part of a parent’s brain.
This is science, folks.
After this brief display, experience has taught me that I have precisely thirty seconds to devise a plan. Of course, this is no problem for me. I’m a father, after all—a leader of men…a tribute to the family…King and ruler of all (so long as my wife says it’s OK)…the wisest of sages…
“Four-year-old…go potty upstairs…” I command.
“Two-year-old…hold it in…” *with a stern look* “hoooooold it…hooooold…”
The four-year-old sets off on his new task. He’s on his own journey now, facing whatever trials and adventures lie ahead. I take a moment to ponder if this is what they mean when they say, it’s hard to let them grow up.
The thought is fleeting, however. I have a white whale in front of me: a toddler who is frantically gripping his “pee-pee” and dancing with a kinetic rhythm that was sadly not gifted to his father. His pants are off, which isn’t too surprising: his pants may only stay on for the course of forty-five minutes in a day, and that’s if we’re lucky.
As quickly as I can, I get to a point where I can stand up and get out of his way. This is when he looks up at me with those big gray eyes and–in stoic, yet inquisitive fashion–says, “It’s not coming, daddy.”
So close. So very close.
What he means by, “It’s not coming” is that he no longer needs to go potty because he is in the process of covering the floor with this acidic coating. I judge by the distance and longevity of the stream that he’s been saving this one for some time, and all I can think to do is complement him on his strong bladder, and then utter reference to my favorite frozen desert.
Crawling into the scene is the 11-month-old. He looks at the mess from just outside the bathroom, smiles and then makes a face that tells me he’s tending to his own business as well, practicing for the day when he too can be a part of this dignified ritual.