As a young boy grows and matures there are many significant firsts and important moments he will share with his father that will play a vital role in determining the type of man he will become. Like the first time a son helps his father fix the family car in the middle of winter and the father gets frustrated at his son because he can’t tell the difference between a 3/16 and a ¼ inch socket and then yells at him for handing him a Phillips head screwdriver every time he asks for a flathead then finally assigns his shivering son the impossible task of holding the flashlight steady so that the beam shines directly on the alternator without first identifying what the hell an alternator looks like.
Or the first time a father and son have a catch in the backyard and the father tells the boy to “quit cocking the ball from behind your ear, throw over your shoulder and point to where you want the ball to go” and the boy throws it over his shoulder and points at his father but the ball still sails 20 feet over and to the left of his father’s head and the father makes no attempt to retrieve it so the boy has to run after the errant throw and executes a wide arc around his father to avoid being kicked in the ass and this pattern continues for an hour until the boy’s mother yells off the back deck to “leave him alone and let him come inside”. However, the seminal bonding moment every father will share with his son is the day he puts his arm around the boy’s shoulder and says in a loving Atticus Finch manner, “I think it’s time you learn how to pee in the ocean.”
While we were in Maine earlier this month Jack and I had a chance to spend some quality father/son time together. We were all on the beach when Kathleen had to suddenly take Adam back to “The day care center with the unlocked bulkhead and the basement door that came out in the base of an activity table in the living room through which a serial killer was surely going to sneak through in the middle of the night and kill us all in our sleep according to my sister” AKA our Rental House because he kept trying to smuggle Pure Uncut Beach Sand (street name High Tide) off the beach by hiding it in his mouth, eyes, the lining of his diaper and in small balloons which he planned to swallow and poop out later. Jack and I decided to stay behind to jump a few more waves, dig a few more holes and smooth things over with the BATFBS (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms and Beach Sand)
My son the Mule (Dealer Handle – SandMan) sampling some High Tide
Once the threat of incarceration through association with a known Sand Runner was off the table I asked Jack if he wanted to collect shells or maybe build a sand castle to which he replied, “Daddy, I have to go potty.” The nearest public bathroom was up the beach about a quarter of a mile so we started running. A little known fact about the famous beach running scene in the film Chariots of Fire is that despite the apparent resolve of the runners and the inspirational power of the music (Dah Dah Dah Dah Dum Dum, Dah Dum Dah Dah Dum) they were merely sprinting towards the Port-A-Potties just off camera. We made it just in time and I lowered my bathroom defense readiness condition from DEFCON 1 to DEFCON 5; this was a decision that would later prove to be critically premature.
About 20 minutes later, after we had walked a half-mile or so down the beach to dig for crabs among a large rock formation, Jack stopped digging, looked at me and said “Daddy…” then paused for a moment. In my mind I finished the sentence for him “…this is the best time I’ve ever had.” or “…I Love You. You’re the best Daddy ever” alas he finished the sentence with “…I have to go potty.” Knowing the public restroom was not an option I quickly began formulating contingency plans. In the spritz bottle of the portly sunbather to our left? In the beach pail of the hyperactive toddler to our right? No, the answer was right in front of me. I reached down, held his hand then said to him, “Jack, I think it’s time you learn how to pee in the ocean.” And with that we waded into the late afternoon surf of the Atlantic.
When the water level reached his waist he started to pull down his bathing suit, but I stopped him. Skeptically he questioned me, “You want me to pee in my pants?” “Look around Jack,” I said motioning to the people in the water and on the beach, “If you pull down your bathing suit everyone will see what you’re doing, but if you walk into the water up to your waist and then go, the waves will wash it away and no one will ever know.” With that he stood there motionless for a few seconds. “Are you going?” I asked. He nodded his head. I whispered, “…and the waves will wash it away.” A few more seconds passed. “Are you done?” He smiled and said, “Almost…” I whispered “…and the waves will wash it away.” He then looked up at me and spoke with a sense of stealthy accomplishment, “Done!” I took his hand and whispered “…and the waves washed it away.”
And as we walked from the water it occurred to me, my boy was just like me; my boy was just like me.
…and the waves will wash it away