For the last few days, I’ve noticed something unpleasant— but not exactly unusual in a house with small children:
The smell of pee.
It was bothering me more than it typically did because I could smell it downstairs, where, you know, outsiders were likely to smell it, too. I knew it would take only a few impromptu drop-ins from neighbors before my house was labeled “that pee house…” and that would not do at all. Not surprisingly, the smell was strongest in the downstairs bathroom, but a quick inspection of the floor and toilet offered no clues as to where it was coming from.
But still. It smelled like pee.
It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I emptied the trash can in the bathroom– only to find that everything in it was sodden and stinking. As liquid spilled from the trash can into the open garbage bag I’d placed beside it, I knew exactly what had happened and, more importantly, who was responsible.
“BRUISER,” I said, my voice instantly an octave lower. “Did you pee in the trash can?”
“Somebody else did dat, Mommy,” Bruiser said quickly from his seat in our den armchair. “But it wasn’t me.” I looked out at him, peeking at me from over the back of the chair. We made eye contact and he ducked. I put down the trash can and walked over to him.
“Bruiser,” I said, gripping him by the shoulders. “Did you pee in the trash can?”
“No,” he mumbled, avoiding my eyes.
“Did you pee in the trash can?”
“No, I didn’t,” he said, squirming.
“Then how did you know somebody else did it?” I asked him. “Who else would pee in the trash can, Bruiser?” He paused for a moment. Busted.
“Ac-shully, I did do it,” he said.
Punishment and wailing followed, of course. As did a thorough scrub-down of the trash can, along with the walls and floor around it. As I cleaned (and cursed under my breath), I suddenly remembered an “incident” that had happened a few months earlier. We had hosted our weekly church small group at our house, and hired my stepdaughter to watch the half-dozen kids from the group in our playroom.
A few days later, I emptied the trash can in there, only to discover that someone had peed in it during the gathering! Obviously, it had been one of the five small boys from the group, but which one was it? Whose child would do such a horrid thing? Which one of those children had such appalling manners (not to mention obvious psychological issues), that he had opted to pee in a trash can as opposed to going to the potty like a normal kid?
I stood frozen at the sink in horror as it dawned on me that that troubled imp, that miniature miscreant doomed for a lifetime of citations…
That was my son.
“Mommy,” Bruiser said from behind me, “The sunroom smell real bad, too.” I froze. Oh no. Oh. Hell. No. Silently, I walked to the sunroom, the children trailing behind me. There, in the sunroom, was another trash can.
Filled with pee.
I turned to Bruiser. “Is there any other trash can in this house with pee in it?” I asked him quietly.
Fearfully, he said, “Well, I think dere might be anudder one, Mommy.”
“In the playroom,” he whispered. The three of us walked to the playroom. Sure enough, standing in the middle of the room (the pee bandit was getting bolder!) was the trash can. I picked it up. The carpet was wet beneath it.
There was only one thing I could do.
“You won’t BELIEVE what YOUR SON did,” I informed my husband on the phone. He listened in shocked silence as I recounted the events of the last few minutes.
“Why would he do that?” my husband asked in wonder.
“Marking his territory maybe?” I said. “I don’t know, you tell me. He’s YOUR SON.”
“Stop calling him my son!” Hubs sputtered.
“Well, no one says he takes after me, that’s all I know!” We were at an impasse. I hung up.
Bruiser and I had a serious talk (The Funny Farm may or may not have been mentioned), at the end of which he tearfully declared that ‘he love us all SO BAD,’ and would never, ever, ever pee in the trash can again.
A few hours later, I was watching the kids play outside with the neighbors when Bruiser stopped abruptly and ran to me.
“I need to go pee pee!” he announced.
“Okay,” I said. “Go on inside and then you can come back out and play.”
“But Mommy,” he said, coming up to me on the stairs and whispering in my ear knowingly, “Big boys ac-shully go pee pee… in a secret place… outside.”
Here we go again.
Image via Doug Shick/Flickr