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Lessons Taught, Lessons Learned

Fathers have more impact on our sons than we sometimes realize...

As a father, a dad, a guy trying to be a guy’s guy, I am charged with teaching my son the ways of the world, as seen through my eyes, as guys have taught their masculine flesh and blood for millennia.

One invaluable taught lesson is being able to write one’s name in the snow, no hands preferably, but improbably, but highly impressive to future bros, especially after a bender. However, at a young age, this has potential laundering consequences that the other so-called adult in the family, the other parental unit, will take exception to.

Message understood. I only need to be told once. Okay, twice. The third time, I washed his winter boots and snow pants myself. We take that third and subsequent experiences to our grave, or possibly, his wedding reception.

Last summer, I took my son on a glorious hike in Banff National Park. My iPhone6 calculated our eighteen-kilometer trek, our four and one-half hour jaunt up the granite and pines, our almost twenty-two thousand step journey, our one hundred and one-floor elevation change, was good for us. The smartphone is right.

We saw all four seasons climbing that well-traveled, glacier till-laden trail, all the way to the top to the world renowned, Russian Tea House at Lake Louise. It is an amazing experience if one has the means and, ahem, inclination.

On a not-so-causal walk, such as this, our need for hydration was complicated by the need for elimination.

“The tree boy, go behind the tree!”

He was as giddy, grinning stupidly from ear-to-ear, as I was the first time a girl said I could touch her boobie. I imagine he will have that same dumb look on his face when he gets his opportunity. Hopefully, the young lady will be as patient with him, as mine was with me.

“Dude, you are not making bread!”

Yes, teaching your son how to pee outside, in the wilderness, is a right-of-passage. However, I should have told him to pee with, not against the wind. My bad. Fortunately, he was wearing shorts, so I just rinsed him off with glacier-chilled water from the snow melt stream near us, before Mrs. Clean was any wiser. Yes, I am the smartest one in the family.

Fast forward to yesterday. It was our first beautiful, warm, sunny day of the year.

I’m minding my own business, probably writing another naughty story or poem or something, and I hear both my son and daughter come storming inside from out, requesting something I cannot believe I am hearing.

“Dad, can we pee on the tree?”

I paused, shaking, not sure what to say, but also thinking, “What tree?”

What was truly being asked?

Who was doing the asking?

For those that have read my other musings, my daughter is more like me, a true, dyed-in-the-wool, shit disturber. An iconoclast.

Was she behind this mess?

I recall the boy enjoyed telling her the story about peeing against a mountain.

Had she waited all this time to unleash her deviously, manipulative mind on him?

My boy then loudly repeated his astounding query. I responded, in kind.

“Boy, are you asking if you can pee against a tree… in our backyard?”

My daughter screams, “YEAH!!!”

“No,” was my only response.

My post-no deafening silence was intended to relay the message that we have four bathrooms. Choose one of them, please. I did not hear a flush of any kind, only a back door slamming.

I’m certain my daughter called me an Asshat. Yes, another questionable parenting choice I unintentionally made. I blame the bad drivers of the world for her learning that imagery word.

However, I do believe my parenting skills are improving.

I am confident that if the other parental unit was there to observe, in a non-judgmental way, like that could ever happen in the history of all men and marriages, but we men dream, I feel she would have said that I handled that urination situation well.

However, when my daughter is not around, I will show the boy where in our yard he can go. There’s a tree at the back, but that is for emergencies only, like when one comes home drunk and don’t think you can sit through the interrogation without wetting yourself. Only bad can come from leaving in the middle of a spousal reprimand to go to the bathroom. That will be seen as indifference. Or peeing one’s self on the sofa, also seen as indifference.

All men know this… it is important to have your tree. We all plant them, but we just don’t talk about it. It is also important that all men teach their son’s that it is okay to pee against that tree, and how to do it - unseen and with the wind.

Upon reflection, I now know I must have the same conversation and taught a lesson with the girl. Otherwise, she will revolt and go wherever the hell she wants. I have a lovely Rhododendron that must be protected. I have yet to have the conversation about which leaves are acceptable for the other thing.


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