Underwear Escapades

The other morning, Hal approached me with a grin on his face.  And quite a number of stuffed animals in his Batman underwear.  They were all riding in the front, some poking up out of the top of his waistband while others poked out the leg holes.

I grinned at him, called him a very silly young man, and suggested that he go get ready for school.

My husband stopped by later to ask if I had seen.  Jane had apparently found this behavior odd.  After five years with the boy, I found her surprise itself to be odd.

After all, her two little brothers had recently decided to don every last pair of underwear they own.. at. the. same. time.  The layers of fabric on their bums had become so thick that they could barely walk and sitting was a particular challenge.

Yet they wobbled around the house like absurd, skinny sumo wrestlers, shrieking with the intoxicating joy of youthful abandon and the feeling that they had just unlocked some previously unheard-of silly activity.

Needless to say, they were affronted when, looking through a “Guinness Book of World Records” style book, they came across a grown man wearing a record-breaking number of underwear pairs.  “He stole our idea!” Daryl exclaimed.

Maybe this was what drove Hal to shove so many miniature stuffed animals into his pants.  Or maybe, considering the large Batman logo on the fly, my husband had it right.

“Maybe this is how Batman came up with the idea of his utility belt,” he said to our baffled daughter.  “He had been carrying all his tools around in his underwear, but a grappling hook is never a good thing to come loose in there.”

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Generational Differences

Hal is nearly five years old. We moved past the potty training stage well over a year and a half ago. We absolutely love not being tethered to a diaper bag or having to make sure you have a spare change of clothes. The time period of accidents is long past. Or so we thought.

The first poop accident occurred while the boys were camping in the northwest in June. Daddy had asked him to wait until they got somewhere so willingly took part of the blame. That was an exceptional incident under trying circumstances. Surely an isolated event.

The next one occurred a couple of weeks ago. Again, we were away from home at the art conference. Nevertheless, we started to get irritated. Both times, my husband threw away the underwear – one Thor, the other Angry Birds – because we just didn’t have the means to clean them properly. Both times, Hal got really upset. We thought losing the underwear would make an impression.

Accident number three was just last week. At home. His reason? “I forgot!” We had a long talk about how old he was and the need to pay attention to when he needed to go and not ignore it. The same conversation we’d had repeatedly back when this was a focus in our lives.

The next one was yesterday at my grandmother’s house. One thing that fascinates me is how he tries to hide it. As if we won’t ever notice the poop caked to his bum or the smelly clothes. I looked at the underwear – this time Lego Star Wars Darth Maul – and thought I really don’t want to clean those. So I said I was throwing them away.

He got upset. I asked if he wanted to clean them. He said yes. I clarified: “You want to scrub the poop out with your own hands?” He said no, he wanted me to, because that was my job. I explained that it wasn’t my poop and he was getting too old for me to deal with these problems.

I then told him to put his pants back on without underwear. He refused. I pointed out that he did not have any underwear there so he’d have to. He angrily chastised me for not bringing our vehicle to grandma’s that had his backpack with a change of clothes in it.

Eventually, we went downstairs with a towel wrapped around his waist. I told my grandma, mom, and aunt what happened and said I’d be right back since I needed to walk the plastic bag-wrapped underwear to the outside trash can.

My grandmother calmly pointed out that I could scrub them clean. I said I knew that but didn’t want to. She said, “Well, back when I was your age, we used cloth diapers so we were used to it.”

I responded, “Yes, and I used cloth diapers too but we are well past that stage now. It’s not worth it to me to clean them up. When he runs out of his character underwear, we’ll buy him plain white. It’s a good logical consequence.”

She shrugged and nodded her head. I found this to be a remarkable demonstration of generational differences. She lived through the Depression. She still washes her Ziploc bags and until she became too weak to do it, she would occasionally dumpster dive behind the day-old bread store to get free bread. It doesn’t matter that she lives in a nice two-story house with a comfortable income. That underwear can be cleaned, so it should. Why be wasteful?

I, on the other hand, grew up in a more comfortable time. I make very good money and the cost of a pair of underwear is insignificant. My time and comfort are much more precious to me than pinching a few pennies. It doesn’t matter that the underwear can be cleaned. It’s not worth my time to do it. Especially when I can wrap it into an object lesson for my child.

I’m not sure which perspective is better overall, probably hers. But, they both have their merits and justifications. And neither one of us is likely to adopt the other attitude.

Passing by the Bathroom

Hal wanted a bubble bath this evening so I ran the water and added the bubbles. He jumped in and started playing with his toys. I planned to clean the sinks and counter while he played so left the room to go find the cleaner.

When I returned, he was leaning against the front of the toilet holding up the lid (but not the seat) as he peed. His bum and the back of his legs were covered in bubbles. The stream from the front barely cleared the seat and would, of course, soon dribble all over it.

This scene reminded me of a couple of other boyhood bathroom antics witnessed as I passed by. About this time last year, Poppy was getting ready to give Hal his shower when Hal suddenly announced he needed to go potty and sat down on the toilet. Poppy went down the hall and Hal soon popped off the toilet and started playing around.

As I was walking down the hall, I saw him poke his head out to see if Poppy was returning and then heard him quietly exclaim to himself, “Oh! Here he comes!” I walked by just in time to see him hopping back onto the toilet and farting as Poppy entered the room, none the wiser.

Earlier that year, I had walked by the bathroom to see his older brother with his underwear around his ankles standing in front of the toilet. As I came into his view, he suddenly jumped sideways and fell into the bathtub.

Apparently, he had decided to try to hide from me and had underestimated how much the underwear would restrict his movement!

Big Boy Underwear

One morning shortly before Hal’s third birthday, I pulled a pair of “Thomas and Friends” underwear out of his drawer and handed it to him saying, “Here Hal, you want to wear your Thomas underwear?”

Without waiting for a response, I left the room to take care of something else. I returned to find him standing in the same spot, carefully studying the underwear.

“Mommy, this is not Thomas underwear.”

I looked at the red train and understood what he meant, since Thomas is, of course, a blue train. I hadn’t meant that the train on the underwear was Thomas, just that it was part of his Thomas set of underwear, but I knew there was no point in attempting to explain that.

“Oh, well, you are right that that is not Thomas. Do you know who it is?”

Hal sounded more than a little disappointed in his dense mother when he replied, “Yes. This is James. You do not get to wear big boy underwear. You need to wear your own underwear.”