Learning One Of The Manly Arts

Learning One Of The Manly Arts

“Grandma, it won’t come.” Barrett, age 4, said, sounding as exasperated as I felt.

I stared at him, sitting on the toilet. Where he’d been for the last five long minutes. I exhaled. Defeated. “Okay, we can go swim but you must promise to tell me when you have to go to the bathroom. Big boys don’t pee in the pool.” Then I scowled and shot him an I-mean-it look.

“Okay.” Barrett squiggled off the toilet, pulled up his bathing suit and raced outside.

I followed, reliving the speech I’d received, that very day, from his father, insisting that we – meaning me – work together to help get Barrett potty trained. Apparently, he was the last in his pre-school class wearing a diaper.

“Whoopee!” Barrett screamed as he leaped into the pool. Ten seconds later his face broke the surface. “Come on Grandma.”

I stuck my toes in and shivered. I groaned, took a deep breath and dove. Ice water swallowed me. I screamed and kicked like mad, swimming two laps in an attempt to warm myself. Then, I swam over to Barrett.

“Are you cold?” I asked, watching his lips quiver and turn blue.


I suppressed a smirk and for the next 20 minutes we raced around playing submarines and doing cannon balls off the diving board. All of a sudden, Barrett froze. His face took on a blissful, far away look.

“Barrett,” I growled, “are you peeing in the pool?”

Guilt ate his face. “No.”

“Get out of the pool.”

Barrett hung his head and climbed out. “I can’t hold it.”

Guilt overwhelmed me. After all, he was just 4-years-old. I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a quick squeeze. “Look, if you can’t make it to the bathroom, just pee in the bushes.”

Barrett’s eyes flew open. “You’d let me?”

“Sure.” I shrugged. “You’d just be watering the flowers.” And, I wouldn’t be swimming in pee. But, just to be safe, I added, “Just don’t tell your Dad.”

“Can I do pee on them now?”


He whipped his trunks down. The stream hit my flowers. Then, he swayed his little hips and spray flew everywhere. Delighted, he shimmied and grinned until he was out of juice.

“That was fun.” He beamed and jumped back in the pool.

I grinned too, because that much urine meant he didn’t urinate much in the pool.

Twenty minutes later, he was out of the pool again, and writing a ‘B’ in pee on the concrete.

Oh dear. But then, I shrugged. All boys love to write in pee. It’s one of the manly arts.

But, that was better than the alternative. So, I slathered on the praise.

Barrett responded with, “You’re the greatest Grandmother in the world and I love you the most of anybody.”

I melted faster than butter in a microwave.

About an hour later, right before his Dad was supposed to pick him up, Barrett asked if he could run outside and pee again.

That time he hit the tree and a grasshopper.

He was very proud.

When his Dad walked in the door, he asked, “How’d the potty training go?”

“Great.” I sidestepped the issue, “Didn’t use a diaper all afternoon.”

His eyebrow arched. “And he didn’t have an accident?”

“I didn’t Dad. I really didn’t.” Barrett said, jumping up and down. “I was perfect. Ask Grandma.”

“He was fabulous.” I gushed. Then, because I couldn’t stop myself, I added, “As a matter of fact, he showed great self control. Never missed his target.” I winked at Barrett.

He tried to wink back. When he couldn’t, he put his finger on his eyelid, pushed it down and held it a second before letting it go.

“Really?” Barrett’s Dad appeared stunned. “He made it all afternoon without having an accident?”

“Of course.” I bragged.

“I did.” Barrett’s head bobbed up and down.

”Well, that’s great to hear.” He tousled Barrett’s hair proudly. Then, he reached over and touched my arm. “Thank you. I really appreciate your help. We’ve been struggling with this issue…”

“Hey…” I swelled. “That’s what Grandmas are for. Any time you need help, I’m here.”

When they left, Barrett wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. He didn’t even squirm much when I covered his face with kisses, like he always did. Then, as they drove out of the driveway, he screamed, “I love you Grandma.”

I don’t have the words to express the love, the joy, and the happiness I felt at that moment.

That night I dreamed I won an award for being the best grandma ever. And Barrett gave it to me. Then, he even kissed me without being bribed.

Now, I know it was a dream but I woke up grinning. I was still basking in its glow when Barrett’s Dad called. He didn’t sound happy.

“Kathy, I’m standing in the pre-school office. Barrett peed during recess. On a tree. He said, ‘Grandma said it was good to water the trees’…”


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