“What’s this water doing on the floor?” I ask, pointing at a small puddle a few feet in front of the toilet.
“That’s not water,” my four-year-old tells me. “It’s pee.”
“Okay,” I say, looking at him with one eyebrow raised. I know exactly what’s happened. My young son does not like to pee standing up, so he sits, just like his big sister and I do. Lately he’s taken to leaning back a bit so his pee arcs up over the rim of the toilet and shoots towards the cupboard a few feet away. I’ve learned the hard way not to stand directly in front of the toilet when he pees. We’ve talked about how it’s important to keep the pee in the potty, and if I’m in there with him, he does a pretty good job. When I’m out of the room, however, anything goes.
Although I know all of this, I ask him anyway: “Why is there pee on the floor?”
“Because I like to urinate outside of the potty,” he says.
I take a deep breath.
“Okay,” I say, “I can see the appeal of that—” (although, in fact, I can’t) “—but when you urinate outside of the potty, it makes a mess.”
“But you can just wipe it up. And if you leave it there, you can walk on it, and you won’t even know it’s there.”
“Sure, if you let it dry out, it won’t wet your feet, but it’s still there, and it smells and it’s gross.” I know even as I’m speaking that this line of argument is completely futile. And sure enough, he’s off and running before I even stop talking.
My daughter would love to have a dog. While I like dogs, I still have a clear memory of cleaning up piddle puddles from the dogs I grew up with. I’m putting off getting a dog until that memory—or at least the olfactory part of that memory—fades a little more.
Who needs a dog? I think as I spray cleaner on the pee spot and grab a rag from the cupboard. Who needs a dog when you have a little boy?