Don’t Pee on the Wall (And Other Parenting Lessons)


There are times when life is filled with sobering truths, tear-jerking moments or periods of deep reflection. Profound glimpses of truth catch us by surprise, like when one of your kids does something not destructive or annoying. But that’s completely not what this post is about.

No, this is about the other 95 percent of the time, when parenting forces you to that desperate crisis point of decision—do I laugh, or do I get angry? This post is about those “Mom, Walter (our one-year-old) is standing on the table again” moments, the ones your mother warned you were coming as divine acts of retribution for your own childhood rottenness.

Sure, it was all good fun when, as kids, my brother and I made a habit of peeing on the wall and floor behind our bunk bed. Take a moment to let that sink in. I’m not really sure how long it took them to figure it out—probably about as long as it takes stale urine to start reeking—but they did figure it out.

It’s not very funny, though, when you’re lying in bed at 4:30 a.m. and you hear one of your sons make his way to the bathroom. Half asleep, you can hear the sound of liquid making contact…but not with toilet water. Truth be told, it sounds more like he’s peeing on the wall. It’s at moments like those you think, “This is payback. Mom was right.”

We were tucking our three-year-old in to bed the other night when he so gracefully plunged a giant booger out of his nose and dumped it in the corner pocket between his bed and the wall. In horror, my wife cried out to stop the madness.

“Oh, gross, don’t do that! That’s disgusting!”

And with that little boy grin and a nonchalant shrug he said, “It’s OK, mom, that’s my booger hole.”

My wife and I looked at each other in shock, not sure whether to laugh or cry over the slob we’ve supposedly been raising. After we left the room—and they made almost zero effort even pretending to be asleep—we looked at each other and laughed, heads shaking and eyes rolling.

Half of it makes you mad, and you certainly do your best to discipline and teach them otherwise. The other half, well, it makes you glad they’re in your life to make it so darn interesting. Yeah, it’s a pain in the rear, but the good kind. It’s the kind of burden that makes you smile once it’s all done and over with. Where there are no children there’s a clean house, but abundant joy comes from a house full of little munchkins.

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4).

One more story. Our three-year-old was using the restroom this morning, and like he usually does, he was yelling and carrying along (don’t try to make sense of it—like so many things with little boys, it just is that way). I was getting ready for work, and as I walked past the bathroom door, I heard him singing, “I’m just a…CHEESE-burger in PARADISE! Just a…CHEESE-burger in PARADISE! I like mine with LETTUCE AND TOMATO! YEAH, CHEESE-burger in PARADISE.”

Man, those are happy moments as a parent. Yeah, they’re stinky and dirty and goofy, but I wouldn’t trade this parenting gig for anything in the world. Their spunkiness keeps me on my toes, keeps me laughing and helps soften my crusty old grown up heart.

As it turns out, I really do need these Three Feet just as much as they need me.


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