When my grandparents-in-law came to visit a week ago, they brought two enormous boxes full of toys, toys they’d been keeping since my husband was a small boy and his impoverished parents came to live in the garret of their house. Included among these toys were several luxurious Fisher Price play sets — “Main Street” and the doll house — that I remember from my own childhood; the plastic dollhouse hinges open so that you can access all the rooms and comes with little people that resemble plastic clothes pegs (cylindrical body, spherical head) and fit into the depressions in the armchairs, etc. We’ve been having fun playing with them, and I’ve made sure to name all the girly-looking ones male names so that Thing One will grow up open-minded about gender identity (or metrosexual, or gay, depending on whom you ask). But the pièce de résistance, the biggest hit with Thing One and his father before him, is the Fisher Price plastic tugboat. It has a captain, complete with sailor hat, shaved head, and blue jersey, who resembles the thumb-sized dollhouse people but on a much larger scale, about the circumference of a Red Bull can, and she (yes, she!) fits into a specially made extra-deep (in case of capsizing) cylindrical hole in the cheery red-and-white boat. It provides endless hours of bathtime entertainment; you can hook up the chain to the tug, pull them both around, anchor, disembark, etc.

But of course the best use is one not sanctioned by Fisher Price. Yesterday, when Thing One got in the bath, he immediately grabbed the boat in one hand, dumped the hapless captain into the engulfing sea, took his penis in the other hand, and began to pee in the captain’s seat. “Look, Mama!” he crowed. “This is yellow water! I’m gonna dump it in the bath!”

“What color is the bath water?” I queried.

“White!” he replied.

“And what color is the pee?” I asked.

“Yellow!” he replied.

Right!” I said, “And that’s why we’re going to dump it in the toilet.”

It’s the aesthetics of the thing, really; I have no particular objection to his seasoning the bath water a bit, and anyway urine is the cleanest body fluid there is. But I figure I have to maintain some standards so that when he hits the public swimming pool he doesn’t immediately flip open his Sippy cup, pee in it, and empty the contents onto an unsuspecting bather. Otherwise, I’m happy for him to pee in the tub, and in fact, I’m thrilled that he’s taught himself to pee in a cup so efficiently, because that is a skill that could come in handy. Back when I was regularly making multi-hour trips up I-5, I got to the point where I would pee in an empty gas station drink cup (from Big Gulp thou hast come, and to Big Gulp thou shalt return). While driving. A stick shift. In traffic. In Fife. Because Fife is really close to Seattle, and Fife also happens to consist almost entirely of car dealerships, and the idea of stopping to find a bathroom when you’ve got your eyes on the prize is pretty unappealing.

So really, Thing One is carrying on a proud family tradition. I just have to make sure that the first time we try it in the car, he dumps it out the window and not on the floor.

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