Well, that’s not exactly the question. But whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the bodily fluids of another’s progeny or take arms against a sea of urine and by opposing end it.
In other words, what do I do when someone else’s kid pees in my bathtub?
This was my moral dilemma during a recent play date. This sweet little friend initially aimed into the proper receptacle. But for some reason, he stopped mid-stream and moved into the bathtub.
So it wasn’t an accident. It was just one of the many super-weird things young boys do for no good reason other than to make grown women wonder when the mothership will return to reclaim lost mini-Martians.
I was mad. But I didn’t know what I should do. If it were Wee Man, time-out, lecture and forced-cleaning would follow. But this was not my son. I understand and respect the fact that different families handle these kinds of things differently. Not sure what I can or should do to discipline and housebreak another’s child.
Ay, there’s the rub.
I asked this boy what he was thinking. Of course, he had no good answer. He agreed he would not like it if I went to his house and peed in his bathtub. (Inspired line of conversation, I know.) I handed him the bathroom cleanser and paper towels. I stood over him to ensure he gave it a thorough scrub. I fished the paper towels out of the unflushed toilet when he dropped them in there once I declared the tub clean. That required still more deep breathing and lessons on hygiene.
Of course his parents were horrified. Turns out this is something they’ve been working on for a while. They’re also at a loss.
I know when I make a huge production of an infraction around here, it rarely works out well for anyone. Drama begets drama. But how do you get through to these people? How do you correct bad behavior that seems to be done simply for effect? Do they really want to get in trouble because mad parents are somehow exciting and entertaining? Is it all just a twisted power trip?
I’d like to react with love and kindness. I can imagine my aura shining gold with an angelic glow as I point out the error in a nurturing way that inspires them to do better and be better. A flock of ivory-billed woodpeckers flies overheard as a unicorn prances by on his way to the final signing of an irrevocable world peace accord. It’s a pretty picture.
But I get pissed off at pee in my tub. (Terrible, terrible pun.) With someone else’s children, I do a better job of maintaining my cool. Conscience does make me a coward. But with my own kids — the people I love more than anyone else in the universe — I find myself more often than not regretting angry words and escalated conflict.
I know all my sins will be remembered. Lord knows grudge-holding runs in my family. I just hope that by the time my kids are old enough to pick out my nursing home, they will have grown from hilarious, wacky, irrepressible, fabulous little people into larger versions of who they are now, and that those sins are forgiven.
And that no one pees in my tub ever again.