I promise this will be my last post on this issue ... at least for a while. I started writing this last Monday but then never finished it. Today I thought I'd give all of us a break from negative emotions. I think of it as a baby step in my recovery from last week's trauma.
Despite growing up in a city, I had the great fortune of living only 1.5 blocks from Pennypack Park, a 1600 acre park with miles of biking and hiking trails. When Aidan was two and a half, we took a trip to Philadelphia to visit my family. One morning, Bill, my father, the kids, and I went for a walk in Pennypack. As we wandered along I reminisced about the happy moments I spent there walking with my father and Uncle Snowy, picking buttercups for my mother along the way. To this day I consider buttercups among my favorite flowers because they remind me so much of walking with my father and his beloved brother.
Well into the walk Aidan told me he had to pee. Because he was potty training I did not want him to have an accident. "No problem, buddy," I said motioning to the bushes, "You can just go over there." "But I'm not a doggie," he replied with a doubtful look. Bill balked at the idea of having him pee in the bushes, which I thought was a little weird for a guy. I mean, really, wasn't it Bill's job to teach his son to piss in the woods? Dismissing Bill's qualms, I took Aidan's hand and led him to the bushes, defending myself, "You'll never get him home in time." And, there and then, I taught my son to squat in the woods.
Last Monday we camped on the beach for most of the day. At one point I needed to heed nature's call. I started back to the house and entered the path leading to the street. About three-quarters of the way down the path I realized that I would not be able to walk all the way to the house in the midday heat. The path was surrounded by enough vegetation to give me some cover. I felt my pocket and, to my luck, I had a tissue. Off, I scurried off into the bushes.
I pulled down my pants and tried to balance myself on the slope of the dune. That's when I began to reflect on penis envy. I used to tell my college roommate, "You know God has a sense of humor when you look at a penis or a platypus." To me, penises are just the funniest appendages. When I had my second feeding tube I found it highly annoying to have several inches of tubing that I had to stuff into my clothing and I actually experienced penis sympathy. How annoying it would be to constantly have that thing hanging between your legs. Of course, unlike my feeding tube, penises have that dandy retractable feature. But when it comes to pissing in the woods, I have major penis envy. For men, all the world is a toilet. When I was in Nairobi, men would be lined up along Uhuru Park nonchalantly taking leaks while they waited for the bus. Men can point and shoot without fear of peeing on themselves. And there is never a line for the men's bathroom.
So there I was not quite hidden behind a small tree, perching on the down slope of a dune. Trying desperately not to pee on my clothes, shoes, and feet, I relieved myself. I managed to avoid my clothes only. So I walked back to the beach and cleaned my hands, feet and shoes in the ocean. (And I did throw my tissue away in a trash can, no worries). "Boy, Mommy, that was fast," Amelia noted upon my speedy return. "Oh, I didn't make it to the house. I just peed along the path," I explained. "Oh Mommy," Amelia replied rolling her eyes.
Amelia seems to have inherited my mother's ladylike gene. Apparently that gene skips a generation because my grandmother rode horses bareback and used to say, "I can work like a man. The only thing missing on me is a pair of balls." It probably sounded much nicer in Italian, though. "Weren't you worried about people seeing you pee?" Amelia asked.
"It was that or pee my pants. I decided to take my chances."
Amelia shook her head at me. "You'll do it someday too. Ya gotta go when ya gotta go," I assured her. And I am probably one of the few mothers who looks forward to teaching her daughter how to squat in the woods. Of course, I need to master it myself first.