Monday, August 12, 2013

Shower Power

It was a sunny Friday morning. We were up early brewing coffee and smearing sunscreen on our kids' faces, digging for sunhats, filling water bottles and throwing a handful of granola bars into the console of the car.

We always pick blueberries at the same place, way out Highway 126 past Leaburg, which is a bit of a trek when you consider that this is Eugene and blueberries are readily available all around us. But we have a tradition and they (them, those people) tell you that strong families follow traditions. So...

But the thing about blueberries is that they do not give a damn about your family traditions. It was a bust. We ended up with maybe two gallons and called it a day. Slim pickings, as they say.

We've been spending our afternoons at the pool. I have my system of snacks and napping options and my claimed territory over in the shade. The boys have each made tremendous progress with their swimming and water confidence this summer and Clementine loves to splash around in the warm pool. In Eugene you do not have to coordinate playdates, you just show up and hang out with whoever is there. Love that.

Jack has spent a good part of the summer contemplating the high dive and he finally did it! I was so terrified to watch his tiny silhouette tentatively climb that tall, tall ladder and then so amazed to see him stroll to the end and jump without any hesitation. That's my boy.

I've been working on some home improvement projects including Clementine's room. Those of you who know my limitations when it comes to manual labor should prepare to be impressed. More on that later.

Her room gets the best early sunshine and I often find the boys in there playing with her toys. She's not allowed in their room because of the Legos so she's always thrilled to have their company on her turf.

Anyway, something happened last week to remind me of a story that I've never told you. I've never told you this, internet, because it reflects poorly on my parenting skills and believe it or not, I actually do try to minimize that on this blog.

It all started at 5pm on a Sunday two summers ago. Seasoned parents are now nodding their heads and smiling because OF COURSE it started at 5pm on a Sunday. And they also know that the story involves medical attention because almost all childhood medical attention stories begin after office hours.

We were enjoying a leisurely stroll through the park when Sawyer suddenly started crying about needing to pee. I hurried him to a nearby bush and he whimpered about it hurting. Hurting pee? Yikes. Urinary tract infection was my immediate diagnosis. Am I medically trained? Well, not technically in human medicine, but I did a five year stint at an animal hospital and I've used that training more than once to doctor up my own kids.

Urgent Care was deserted and we rolled right through the waiting room and into the exam room. The nurse came in and wanted to get a urine sample. Now here's where human and veterinary medicine become wildly different. Dogs are easy: you take them out and follow them around with a bowl. Cats can be trickier, but they are nothing compared to a two year old who says it hurts to pee. 

"If you can't get him to provide a sample, we'll have to catheterize him," the nurse explained as I was sequestered away in a small bathroom with Sawyer, a plastic bowl that fit over the toilet seat, and a lab jar.

Catheterize him?  Good god.

Trying to get a two year old to do anything is a struggle, so when you factor in the pain and awkwardness of the situation, I do not believe I am exaggerating when I tell you that what happened next was nothing short of a miracle. After a good ten minutes of me begging and pleading, I got him to pee in the cup by blowing up rubber gloves and making them into weird little balloon animals who talked in silly voices. And when we emerged from that bathroom with that urine sample in hand, it was one of my proudest moments of motherhood.

I was still smiling when the doctor came in a few minutes later and informed me that Sawyer did not have a urinary tract infection.

"Mind if I take a quick look down there, little fellow?" he asked nonchalantly. Sawyer obliged. "Do you ever retract his foreskin?" The doctor turned his attention to me.

I do not. Because I am pretty hands-off when it comes to the boys and their unaltered penises. Oh god, was this a circumcision issue?

"Do you have a sandbox?" he continued.

"Yes!" Now we were getting somewhere as I shuddered to think of penis infecting sandbox parasites living in our backyard.

"When was the last time he had a bath?"

"Um. Well. Er..." Shit. I had no idea. Two days ago? Five days ago?

The doctor finished his exam and sat back in his chair, staring over his glasses at me. "Your son has a dirty penis. He needs a bath."

Diagnosis: dirty penis. Holy mother of all pediatric humiliation. Parenting FAIL.

I hung my head. My cheeks burned. The doctor patted my shoulder as I carried my dirty little boy and his collection of rubber glove balloon animals straight home and into the bathtub. 

And so this week when Sawyer came along complaining of some pain down there, I though about all those hours he's been spending in the sandbox and how easy it is to forget shower night when you've spent the day at the pool. I thought of the mudpit in our front yard that's been the venue for countless hours of good old fashioned boys being boys. I wondered how long it had been since shower night...

But I did not worry about urinary tract infections. Or copays or lab jars or rubber glove balloon animals. I told him to hit the shower, soldier, and make sure all of your equipment gets cleaned. That seemed to solve the problem.

Yup, that's me: the solver of problems. Now, to track down approximately 7 more gallons of blueberries. Then again, another day at the pool doesn't sound so bad, either.


  1. Your children are gorgeous and these are lovely photos; they've clearly been having a wonderful summer! Wish we could pick blueberries here but whilst you can buy them in the UK, they are often expensive.
    Poor Sawyer, I did feel for him though laughed at your balloon animals! Helen

  2. Cassadie, dear blogger,

    I laughed and laughed and laughed. "Your son has a dirty penis. He needs a bath." Such a classic line. I think your parenting is probably utterly awesome - this is just real life - and (afterwards) it's hilarious.

    My best wishes, still laughing, from the Alps,

  3. Thanks for the smile. :). Every parent has a day like this occasionally. They just don't all have the balls to share it.

  4. Thanks for the honesty and the laugh. I have 2 boys and will remember this for future reference. Love the bit about the balloon animals with the rubber gloves. Kudos to you for the creativity, mama!

  5. oh my.... showers are for the weak?! Love this post. It happens!!!

  6. Oh my god I'm laughing. I too often forget when the last time my child had a bath b/c hell it's summer, doesn't swimming and running through hose water count? Please promise you'll share that story on his prom night/rehearsal dinner.

  7. Thanks for the laugh! You're such a good writer.