A few years back, Linda and her husband Evan taught their son to pee on the grass. At the time, it was funny. And functional. Landon was 3 at the time so he had to pee often, and urgently. It was easier to find a patch of grass than a bathroom. Who wants to go driving around looking for a bathroom with a toddler in the backseat screaming, “It’s coming out, Mommy!” after all? He was so cute, that little view of his backside as he was peeing against a tree. Grass-peeing occurred when hiking, camping, on road trip pit-stops, and occasionally in the backyard-when going inside proved to be too long a disruption in his play.
Soon enough, his little brother Alex came along and learned the skill, which offered the same advantages as it did for his older brother. Landon often gave sage advice such as, “keep breathing,” or “don’t look around” to put his novice brother at ease. In chillier weather, Landon offered, “sometimes it takes a little longer when it’s cold” to an impatient Alex. Both brothers delighted in the yellow art they created when there was snow on the ground. Such frolicking and boyish play continued as the boys grew.
One rainy spring, Linda signed the boys up for indoor soccer. Having spent the winter watching two little guys playing “Wipeout” using her new sofa, her tennis racket, a bucket of water and other assorted breakable items, she decided it was time for the boys to blow off some steam…under someone else’s watch. The boys loved it, the running, the action, the competition. One sweat soaked-practice after another, it was time well spent. Linda congratulated herself silently, daring not rub it in Evan’s face, who had deemed it too expensive.
One practice, as she quietly tapped on her phone like 20 other moms seated on the cold, ass-flattening bleachers, she heard some out-of-the-ordinary screaming and laughing. She looked up and saw a familiar sight, in an unwelcome venue. Landon, standing beside Alex, was peeing in the corner. On the astroturf. Linda’s thoughts swirled from Should I run? to Does anyone notice? to Is this happening? Finally, without her knowledge or permission, she felt her body lurching up toward her boys. Alex, sensing the need to pee as well, began to unzip his fly, sending Linda into a full-on run. Words began pouring out of her mouth as she entered the field. She had no control of them, they were flying out too quickly. She recognized “Stop” and their names, but other than that they were barely recognizable as language. By midfield she feared she heard curse words coming from her lips but was unable to stem the tide. Streams from both boys had stopped by the time she had reached them. Teammates were abuzz with laughter, rolling around on the ground (away from the warm yellow puddle congealing in front of her boys) and pointing. Alex looked at her and asked, “Mommy, why isn’t the grass sucking it up?”
The rest is a “blur” as Linda recounts it. A mom carrying two crying boys. A befuddled coach. A howling team of boys. A pungent scent. Linda threw $10 at the reception desk for “cleaning.” And she went home and thought. A lot.
If they don’t know the difference between grass and astroturf, how will they know the difference between right and wrong? A nice girl and one who will break their hearts? Fully cooked chicken nuggets and pink-inside ones which will make them sick? Sighing, she decided she wasn’t a bad mom. So she overreacted a little. So what? But she feels frustrated that she can’t always pave their way. Sometimes they have to make decisions based on the information they have. And sometimes they will make the wrong choice. Maybe even learn a lesson. That’s all any parent can do.
And so, Linda made her own choice.
Evan can take the boys to practice from now on.
photo courtesy of Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com