I’m generally okay with letting my young boys pee outside provided there's no nearby bathroom, we’re relatively far away from civilization, and we’re discreet about it. But Jen, my wife, shockingly thinks having a penis is license to pee whenever the need arises, hence the puddles by the pine trees in our backyard.
On a recent summer trip to the Berkshires, we butted heads repeatedly over this issue. So I just wanted to record my deliberations on these incidents to help other parents who head up to the mountains.
We'd just viewed iconic paintings like Freedom From Want and The Runaway, and walked down a sloping green hill to see Rockwell’s actual studio where he created many of his masterpieces. We were looking out at the breathtaking Housatonic River Valley, when Benjamin, my seven-year-old, informed us that he had to go.
“One or two?” Jen asked.
“Peepee,” he said.
“Just go here,” she said, motioning to the grass.
“Absolutely not!” I exclaimed.
We were in an idyllic spot but it was by no means secluded. Two jumbo tour buses were parked not 30 feet from us in front of the gallery. The woman who had just kindly snapped a family photo for us was still close by, soaking up the view. Not to mention old Norman himself, who likely haunted the property and could've been hovering directly above us.
“Stop being so uptight,” Jen said.
I ignored her insults and led my son back into the main building to find the bathroom.
I was in a grumpy mood because we'd arrived late and missed all but 10 minutes of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Saturday morning rehearsal. We were trudging back to our car through the grass parking lot when Manny, our five-year-old, said he had to pee.
“Do it by the car,” Jen told him.
“Are you crazy?” I uttered.
An older couple was right next to us carrying their wine glasses and the remains of a picnic lunch.
“Why not?” she asked.
I wanted to end this discussion once and for all, so I brought out the big guns: “It’s against the law.”
I knew for a fact that peeing on the Jersey Shore came with a $275 fine and possible incarceration, so the penalties for doing it in pristine Lenox, Massachusetts, had to be at least three times that.
“Do you see any cops?” my wife asked, dismissively. “Nobody cares about this except you.”
“I’ve got to go, Dad,” Manny cried.
I didn’t feel guilty at all making him hold it for another 20 minutes until we reached the restroom in the lovely Lenox public library.
One of my cherished childhood memories was the time my family road-tripped to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to visit with my father’s old friend who was a professor there. The vastness of the campus – not to mention all the arcade games in the student center – filled me with wonder.
Williams College was much different than a Big 10 school, and it was the summer, so the campus was mostly deserted. I still had hope that visiting the college might leave the kids with similar feelings of possibility.
“Pee wherever,” Jen told both boys when they said they had to go.
“What is wrong with you?” I asked.
“No, what is wrong with you?”
“Listen to Mommy,” my older son said to me.
“Yeah, Mommy is always right,” my younger boy followed.
I squinted at the mountains in the distance and tried to keep my composure.
“I’m walking back to the car,” I said.
“We’ll catch up,” Jen told me.
This seemed like a no-brainer. It was late. My boys were the only ones in the pool, and there weren’t any other guests there or employees. I assumed the pool was chlorinated. It was a victimless crime. I also used to pee in the town pool when I was their age.
“Go ahead, pee in the pool,” I told my sons, happy to not be the bad guy for once.
“That’s disgusting!” Jen, a former lifeguard, said and hurried the kids out of the water.