a quick bath

As I walked out of the laundry room and across the hall to head up the stairs, I glanced over my left shoulder to see what mayhem was occurring in our family room.  I saw toys and pillows and blankets, dirty dishes, trash, and the other typical items which prove a herd of little people live in my house.

There among the rubble, gathered in front of the TV with legs and arms protruding from various coverings and sticking out in random directions, sat nine little people.  They were transfixed by the TV and for a few seconds, I was lured into its trance-inducing glare with them.  Batman and Robin were busy saving Gotham City from The Riddler and various and asundry other hoodlums.

ethan-superhero.jpgIt must have been near the end of the movie, because Batman was in dire straits, but then climactic explosions began and his escape plan was underway.  As I wondered how anyone could ever make a movie with such ridiculous special effects, I heard Ethan yell, “Yay!  Batman’s winning!”  He laughed and cheered.

I started laughing with him, or at him, as I moved up the stairs to get some other things done before Batman vanquished the evil and the herd was released to stampede through the house again.

I was locked safely in the refuge of the bathroom when it became apparent by the noise outside the door that children were running amok.  The knocking began.  It reminded me of the end of the movie I Am Legend with all of those “people” trying to get at Will Smith.  From the crowd, I heard Ethan’s voice saying, “I need to go potty.”  Unsympathetic, I replied, “Well, go downstairs!”  Someone in the crowd retorted, “Noah’s downstairs.”

Keep in mind that for reasons unknown to normal people, children always want to talk to you while you’re in the bathroom, though they usually have no legitimate reason whatsoever for the interruption.  At least, that’s been my experience.  I usually ignore them, knowing they’ll find another victim to pursue.  My error in judgement in this case, though, was really the fault of Renee, who for some irrational reason was ill yesterday, and at the time of my story, was snoring loudly with Ayda next to her in our bedroom across the hall.  If she had been at her traffic-directing post, everything would have turned out beautifully, but no.

After a couple of minutes, the crowd had moved on, as I expected, and I opened the door, anticipating a little boy with yellow eyes to come rushing into the room.  No one was there.  I left the door open, just in case, and went about brushing my teeth.  I was lost in my own thoughts, staring at my ugly mug in the mirror until I heard a sob coming from the kids’ room around the corner.

I poked my head out of the bathroom door and discovered Ethan crouching and sobbing in the closet, behind the changing table.  Being the perceptive father I am, I immediately recognized the puddle around his zipper and realized I should have opened the door a little sooner.  Dang it!

I knew he was crying because he thought I’d be mad at him. The sobbing dissolved my crabby old heart and all I could say was, “What’s wrong, buddy?”  No further discussion was needed, though.  We got his clothes off and ran a quick bath.

He laid there soaking in the tub while I finished primping and reviewed the events in my head.  As near as I could figure, he must have been so busy supporting Batman’s efforts that he couldn’t be distracted by a trip to the bathroom when it was empty.  Besides, all he had to do was squeeze tight until Batman completed the job and then he could just make a dash for relief.  That was a solid plan, I think.  It’s risky but not unreasonable.

He only failed to consider that several other people probably had the same thing in mind and their dash was a little quicker.  Beyond that, he never considered that Dad would be barricaded in the second bathroom.  Poor kid.

Sometimes our best laid plans miss a few variables, leaving us embarassed and feeling foolish, and suffering unintended consequences.  Sometimes we push our chips to the middle of the table and say, “I’m all in,” only to find the cards have betrayed our optimism.

Ethan reminded me that sometimes it’s worth the risk.  Sometimes keeping a commitment to cheer for Batman while he saves the world is the best thing to do in spite of the fallout.  If our hearts are right, the messes can be cleaned up and the water can wash away our sins.

3 thoughts on “a quick bath”

  1. Perfect. One of your best. I’ve found that when looking back at my mistakes, if I can be honest with myself, I always made the right decision. That is to say, with the given circumstances and my best guess as to the possible outcome, I have rarely, if ever, purposefully peed my pants. I have always tried to make the best decision, even when it turned out to be the worst. Knowing that helps me feel less guilty sometimes.

  2. You seem to have the most remarkable aptitude for finding the deeper meaning in the most mundane, everyday situations you know. Some normal people (and I use the term loosely) would call that crazy from time to time however, having been around your family for the time that I was, I’m not the least surprised. I can see where Ethan would have been upset. I remember the celebration that ensued when Ethan began to use the potty, how you announced it at the dinner table with great aplomb and how everyone clapped and cheered amid choruses of, “Thank you, Jesus!” and “Praise Jesus!” and “Way to go, Ethan!” It was that evening that you and Ethan also went to the store to get a candy bar and returned in a little while with no candy as far as I could tell, but with a couple packages of brand new big boy underwear. I remember him showing them to me and how proud he was of them. After all, to him this was something major, as large a step toward being a big boy as if he hadn’t stepped at all but instead taken a flying leap, breaking away from Earth and floating on cloud nine. Truthfully, I can’t help but wonder if so engrossed was he in the antics of the Riddler and one who numbers among his many boyhood heros, Batman, that he either didn’t realize he had to pee, or he completely forgot as children are wont to do.

    I have to applaud the understanding that you displayed with a circumstance that would have made several parents hopping, yelling mad and would have, in turn made the child in question feel an even greater shame than they already did at the notion of not only an accident, but a major backslide on the road to maturity. Ethan had hidden himself away which tells me one thing, he was truly, deeply ashamed and dismayed at something that was in reality, an accident. This is where I have to applaud you because you didn’t blow up at him or add to his hurt. Instead, you cleaned up the mess and showed him that mistakes are made and lessons are learned but to hide the situation doesn’t make anything go away, instead it makes things worse…Not to mention damp and cold.

    As adults, we sometimes forget the trials of childhood that seem paltry and insignificant by our own standards but in retrospect have a greater impact on the entire course of our lives, no matter how puny or inconsequential the details or how much we might laugh them off later. I can’t help but think that someday, when Ethan is a father himself that he’ll love his own children with the same openness and understanding that was demonstrated to him by the man who, in the end will come to be known to Ethan as his greatest superhero of all time; his father.

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