Eli 3.4: Dangerous WatersWe were talking about fire ants on Sunday. In the park.
"Daddy, where are the fire ants?" Delightful subject. Welcome to Texas.
"Little man, when it gets cold, the ants go deeper into the ground. They don't like the cold."
"Why don't they like the cold?" Eli asked.
"Because they can't wear jackets," I said.
"Daddy, you are cracking my head up!"
Later, he climbed a giant slide and slid down about twenty times in a row, laughing and running back each time he reached the bottom. "Man, my batteries are running out!" he shouted.
On our way back to the car, we were all walking together and Eli 3.4 said "Daddy, I love Mommy more than you."
"Sure," I said, "You've only known her for three years!" Gloria gave me a good slug on the arm for that. Heh. Good times.
It was one of those golden parenting days, as it were.
'Golden.' That's foreshadowing, don't you know.
That afternoon, during Eli's nap, Gloria walks into the living room.
"I need to tell you something about Eli." I wonder what my little genius has done now. Maybe he's already reading. Maybe he's learning math. Maybe he's just absolutely the best boy in the world.
"I think Eli peed in the bathroom trash can," she says.
"Peed in the trash can. Unless you think the cat could have done it." I think the cat would eat me, if she could, and if you hear of me being dismembered, take a hard look at her, but she didn't pee in a trash can.
"Why in the world would he do that?" I ask, as if there's some kind of sensible reason for peeing in a trash can when a toilet is less than a foot away.
"I don't know. He just did."
Later, the dramatic confrontation.
"Eli, could you come over here for a minute? We need to talk about something." He walks over, already suspicious, looking at anything except me.
"Mom said that there was pee in the trash can."
"Yes. And I know Mommy didn't pee in the trash can, and I know I didn't, so who could have done that?"
"Hmm. Let me think...Hmm...I think it was me."
"You peed in the trash can? Why?"
"Well, because I'm a Curious George, and I was curious."
Outstanding. That makes perfect sense.
Later, after Eli's gone to bed, Gloria comes into our bedroom.
"Well, it's totally cleaned out and I used anti-bacterial spray."
"IT WAS PEED IN. Once it's peed in, it can no longer be called a 'trash can.' It can only be referred to as the 'urine receptacle.' "
"That trash can is probably cleaner than when we bought it. Besides, pee isn't really that dirty."
"Really? When did you become a card-carrying member of the Pee Lovers Association of America?"
"I've read stories about shipwrecks where people couldn't drink the salt water, but they drank their own urine to survive."
"Is this like the 'I have a friend who...' stories?"
"My mother was so fastidious that it made me nervous. I don't want to be like that."
"No worries," I said. "I think that regaling me with stories of people drinking their own pee falls somewhere on the other side of 'fastidious.' Let me just say this--I'm not touching any lemonade that you make from now on."
Things got better from there. Eli seemed to understand that peeing inside random containers did not make him a 3.4 version of James Dean. Life went back to normal, which is to say, utter chaos.
I went for a walk with Eli 3.4 last night, and when we got back to the house, he was playing with his Cozy Coupe. Gloria opens the door to the garage and gives me one of those secret little gestures. I walk over to her.
"Do you have the package? What's the password?" I ask.
"I need to talk to you about something," she says. "About Eli."
"What is it?" Eli is still happily taking a spin in the Cozy Coupe.
"I found some poop in the guest room on the floor."
"WHAT? You found WHAT?"
"Maybe it wasn't him. It could have been the cat."
"Great. The only thing worse than having crap on the guest room carpet is HAVING MULTIPLE SUSPECTS."
"I don't think the cat was in there today, though," she says. "The door was closed."
"You know, Eli peeing in the trash can didn't seem like The Good Old Days at the time, but how I miss them."
"What should we do?"
"I don't know, but I do know one thing--I don't want to hear any shipwreck stories."
Maybe I'll forget this ever happened. In twenty years or so.