That Wasn’t So Bad
By Ellie Peterson
At long last, our three grandchildren are sleeping over at our house. Leo is five, Gabe is three, and Aggie Lou just turned one.
Josh, our son, is the stay-at-home parent. Hence, he speaks authoritatively on the dos and don’ts of raising children. Putting the Pack and Play together in our bedroom, Grandpa listens intently as Josh gives oral instructions on the fine art of getting Aggie Lou to sleep.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Josh’s wife Jen is busy filling me in on the boy’s latest rituals. This blankie is for this and that blankie is for that. “Gabe has just been potty trained. You better ask him often if he needs to go,” she cautions.
After the parents leave, Grandpa and I adjust to the strewn toys and squeals of laughter. When it’s time for dinner, we find ourselves coaxing Leo and Gabe to eat. Food is not as exciting as playing pool and ping-pong, so I head downstairs with the boys. Content, Aggie Lou sits joyfully in her high chair eating cheerios and apples with vigor. When I return upstairs and check in on Grandpa, I find him napping while holding a book and a sleeping little girl.
Grandpa looks so cute with his Christmas antlers on his head and his granddaughter in his arms that I quickly snap a photo. He stirs and motions for me to take Aggie Lou. She stays asleep until I try to put her into the Pack and Play.
Ah yes, I think. It all comes back to me. I remember feeling the excitement when one of my three kids would fall asleep only to be thwarted when trying to put them in their own bed. So there I stay in the room, singing and pacing back and forth. Unfortunately, I missed hearing Josh’s hard earned parental wisdom. I’m feeling somewhat lost on what to do next. Does she like singing?
Meanwhile back in the living room, trucks are crashing into each other. Grandpa astutely notices Gabe’s frequent fidgeting and directs him into the bathroom.
Once inside, Grandpa lifts the toilet seat and prompts Gabe to do it standing up. No words are spoken just the infamous nope head shake by a 3-year-old. At such an early age, it appears Gabe has already mastered the “men of few words” syndrome. Grandpa puts the seat back down and a fiery urgency glows in Gabe’s eyes. Awkwardly, pants and undies are pulled down. Eyes again meet and the now what question gets communicated. Restlessly, Gabe stands on Grandpa’s front wheelchair footrest in an attempt to get onto the toilet. Grandpa’s hand guides the bare butt up.
Gabe now seated on the toilet squarely faces Grandpa seated in his wheelchair. Their eyes again lock, as if they are steadying themselves for a gun fight. Being an inexperienced gun slinger, Gabe is quick to the draw and starts urinating. Guns need a finger to cock the trigger; penises need a finger to direct the flow. The pee’s first short range hit is Grandpa. If this had been a real bullet, it would have pierced his heart. It was as if Gabe had hit the bull’s-eye dead center. Quickly, the volley of urine makes another strike. Grandpa watches as it dribbles down the wall. What marksmanship?
The rapid pee fire is slowing down as the bladder is running out of ammo. Grandpa realizes he didn’t even get to turn around and count to 10 before this whole thing started. Now it’s over and the happy sling shooter has only gotten a small amount of piss into the hole.
With nothing else to do, Gabe dismounts and proudly states, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” Grandpa looks around. Bottomless, Gabe leaves the bathroom with only his invisible holster secure. His weapon is no longer in the conceal and carry mode.
So if you were Grandpa, would you be pissed off? After all, he’s already been pissed on. Would you shoot off your mouth yelling at Gabe?
Grandpa’s easy going nature is priceless to me. On our first date, when he relayed how he broke his neck at the age of 17 he said, “Shit happens.” He has been a prime example how to accept and love life on its terms. He’s shown me how to go with the flow.
Like an upstanding lawmen, he assesses the situation and refrains from the quick draw on frustration. As he observes the remnants of this shoot out, he realizes no major harm was done. His shirt, Gabe’s clothes and the walls could easily be cleaned up. If he had allowed anger to grab hold, he would have been like an outlaw wielding a violent weapon at an innocent, unarmed person.
You can bet Grandpa will not turn his back on the opportunity to do better next time. He is already scheming about how Gabe can hit the toilet target.
As Grandpa starts cleaning up, he finds himself agreeing with Gabe’s assessment. It’s not so bad.