I took Martin on a hike Saturday to teach him to pee outside like a man. Jen packed us some leftover pizza, slices of fruit, a jug of water and a jug of Ovaltine. During the short drive to the park I drank most of the water and coaxed Martin to take a few sips of the chocolate milk.
Halfway there I reached back and handed Martin his copy of Jen’s latest book, “Peeing Good Peeing Bad” and referred him to the page with the text “Peeing on a tree is good (sometimes).” The whole mission was to make that parenthetical modifier concrete. In order to reinforce how wrong it was to pee outside the bathroom in most situations I needed to show him the situations in which it was ok. In addition, he’d never peed standing up until a week earlier. I also wanted to give him a chance to practice his technique. I gulped some more water so I could demonstrate.
When we arrived at the park, Martin was mostly just interested in climbing. I prompted him over and over: “Martin, do you think you’d like to pee on this tree?” or “Martin, now that there are no people around it would be ok to pee.” My bladder was starting to press but he mostly just trotted along the path looking for trees that would be fun to climb on.
Eventually he found one that really appealed to him. Unfortunately, it was this one:
I thought to myself, “If that tree were only 2 feet off the ground I would be able to hop it’s length on one foot with no problem. However, I can’t currently imagine walking or crawling across that tree. I’d get dizzy and fearful and probably turn around after four feet.”
Then I thought, “If I let Martin do this and he is successful, he might never acquire the irrational fear that makes me incapable of doing this thing that is actually pretty trivial on a physical level.”
So I let him. I said, “Martin, climbing that tree is dangerous. You might fall. Are you sure you want to do it? Would you like to pee first?” He climbed up onto the trunk. I stayed beneath him concentrating hard, tense and very frightened. He crawled along on his hands and knees concentrating, but not tense, not frightened. He moved along deliberately and paused for about 30 seconds in the middle. I took out my camera, clenched my bladder, instructed myself to throw the camera to the right if he started to slip and snapped a few pictures.
When he finished his climb I asked him if he was scared during the climb. He didn’t answer. As I often do, I re-asked the question this time with two contrasting choices. I said, “Were you scared during the climb or were you just cold?” He said, “Just cold.”
We hiked around a bit more and then suddenly he veered off the path and started to take his pants down. I said, “Good, Martin, you are going off the path. Do you see anyone around?” No one was around. “Good, Martin, you found a nice tree off the path when no one else is around. That is Peeing Good.”
Then I just shut up and joined him.
(This post is part 2 of a 6 post series)