Since I have been writing Life 101 for about ten years now, it is no surprise that I am frequently asked parenting questions like the one below. While other, lesser writers would take letters like this to heart and simply “answer” them, I usually choose to take what we in the industry call The High Road. This includes first making a public spectacle of the family in question, THEN answering the letter. I find this method to be far superior (i.e. way funnier).
Dear Mark Thrice,
My 4-year-old son has just reported to me that his brother has pooped in the neighbor’s yard. I’m not sure what I should do about this, or even what the punishment should be.
When I questioned the suspect, he confessed, but mentioned that actually both he and his brother (the snitch) had a bowel movement in the grass next door. They were more than willing to go into graphic detail to explain what happened.
“Where?” I asked.
“Beside the dumpster behind the grocery store parking lot,” Number One replied.
“Oh good,” I thought. “The offended neighbor doesn’t actually live right next door, but two doors down.”
As a (horrified) mother I have to wonder how many people watched as two little white bums pulled down their shorts, crouched (I presume) or squatted (perhaps) and laid one out on the cool green grass. A part of me knew there was probably no real forethought put into this plan but I just couldn’t let it go at that.
“Why?” I pleaded, shaking my head as I do time and time again, trying to gain some kind of understanding as to what could possibly be running through their little brains.
“Because we REALLY REALLY had to go!” came the earnest response.
As I stood there with two sets of innocent eyes staring up at me, I calculated the probability of both sets of digestive systems pleading for relief at exactly the same time. “Not very likely,” was what I came up with.
While I have always hoped that my two boys would share many fond memories, this was definitely NOT what I had in mind.
Worried In Wyoming
First of all, I want to thank you for your letter. I had NO idea what I was going to write about and my deadline is mere hours away.
Secondly, you still have several potential problems.
Problem #1: Escalation. How are these boys going to top this—and you know they are going to try.
Problem #2: When they DO try, how quickly can you blame it on their father/older brother/GameBoy?
Problem #3: What to do about “The Evidence”? You have to know that the criminals will always return to the scene of the crime. What they do when get there should terrify you. It does me. Consider how you can address the problem right at their level of understanding. If that doesn’t work, move to another city.