One day, my wife, KayEm, called me at work to inform me that I needed to talk to my 5-year-old son, N. Whenever I need to talk to a child, one of three things has occurred:
1. The child is sad/disappointed and needs some encouragement
2. The child misses me because I’m away on business
3. The child is one step away from meeting his/her maker
By the tone of KayEm’s voice, I knew it was number three.
“What did he do now?” I asked.
“He urinated in the trashcan,” she said.
“He did what???” I asked.
“You heard me,” she said. “He peed in the trashcan.”
“How did you discover this,” I asked.
“Your daughter told me I that needed to clean the bathroom because it was very stinky,” she said. “When I entered the bathroom, I was almost knocked over by the stench.”
“Did N admit to peeing in the trashcan?”
“Yes, after I used some harsh interrogation tactics.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll talk to him when I get home. KayEm proceeded to tell me what I needed to say to him. I kept thinking, “Why don’t you just tell him and keep me out of it.” Of course I kept my mouth shut. No need to make her mad at me too.
When I got home from work, I pulled my son into my bedroom so we could talk privately.
“N,” I said. “Did you pee in the trashcan?” His demeanor turned sad as he stood before me. “You’re not in trouble,” I assured him. “I just want to know why you did it.”
“It was an accident,” N said.
“How do you accidentally pee in the trash can?” I asked.
“I just wanted to see what it was like,” he responded.
“So,” I said. “You did it on purpose?”
“No,” he replied. “It was an accident.”
“Okay,” I said trying to hide my frustration. “Was it an accident or was it on purpose?”
He stood quietly for several minutes and then said, “It was an on purpose accident.”
“What??????” I asked.
“I did it on purpose,” he explained. “But it was an accident.”
After a full day at work, my tired mind could not process his explanation, so I let him off with a warning.
“Don’t pee in the trash can again,” I said. “And let’s try not to have any more on purpose accidents.”
“Okay, Daddy,” he said with a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, my little talk didn’t have the desired effect.
Later that week, I heard a terrible scream coming from upstairs so I proceeded to investigate.
“What happened?” I asked as I entered my daughter, Nee’s bedroom.
“N ran into my room without any underwear on,” Nee responded. “I saw his penis.” [Again with the penis].
I walked into N’s room and found him dancing around with only a shirt on.
“Son, why aren’t you wearing any pants?” I asked.
“Because I’m getting dressed for bed,” he said.
“Why did you run into your sister’s room and flash her?”
“It was an accident,” he said as he wrapped his arms around my legs.
“Was it an ‘on purpose accident’?” I asked.
“Didn’t we agree that you wouldn’t have any more ‘on purpose accidents’?”
“Yes.” he said.
“N, get dressed and go apologize to your sister,” I said calmly.
“Okay,” he replied.
As he walked away, I gave him a light smack across the back of his head.
“Ouch!” He screamed. “Why’d you do that.”
“Sorry,” I said. “It was an ‘on purpose accident.’”
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Photo by Ralph Hockens