My son is finally getting the hang of pooing in the toilet.

Oh, the relief for us parents. Bye, bye to soiled pants and floors, and mishaps at restaurants and in the garden and at parks.

We’re on a roll. He’s gone a couple of weeks with clean pants. And he’s into it. He’ll run his three-and-a-half-year-old body to the toilet when the urge calls, no matter where we may be. He doesn’t give a toss about the mess or the stench or the puddles of a gas station toilet. He’s in there, pants down and doing it.

Evacuating, if we wish to be more couth about it.

Yesterday on the beach he turned to me and said, “Poo.” We bolted down the crowded beach for a couple hundred yards and then across the scorching dry sand – hot, hot, hot – to the toilet at a beach restaurant, just in time to evacuate.

We parents are proud and he’s proud – and curious. Very much so.

I walked into the bathroom today and there he was with his head down the toilet. I cleared my throat and asked, “What are you doing?”

He pulled his head out of the bowl followed by his arms and a flashlight and he looked up at me and said, “Where poo go?”

Killing It

It can be torture, like trying to grab a cold glass of water that’s just out of reach on a scorching day.

It is like this: you pull up to the beach with three kids under six and one of their friends. You lug bags of plastic cars, pails and shovels, boogie boards, sandwiches and water and a couple of apples, towels and sun block and a big umbrella and the baby in the car seat and a beach chair.

It’s 300 yards to the shoreline and your eyes are set on the surf.

The waves are good, very good. Perfect for surfing. Offshore winds are caressing the waves as they break. They are hollow and peeling perfectly to the left and the right. The ones breaking to the left are best, racing down the coast.

You’d be getting long, fast rides. Ah, the joy of living at the beach.

But the kids are off in a shot. They are out wading in the waves as they run up the shoreline. They can’t swim yet. So you’re behind them. Your surfboard is at home. You know your surf buddies will be out there, killing it. Surfing hard and having an absolute blast.

But you won’t moan or try to get away. You’ll do the better thing.

“Get the boogie boards, kids,” you yell out.

And they race up to your wife and the stuff and bring back the boards.

You’re going to teach them the ways of the waves, the tides and the currents. How to ride on your belly and then on your knees. Teach them which waves are best and how to catch them and ride them in straight, and how to turn and how to get back out.

They’re listening and trying and practicing and loving it and you’re loving it.

Then you think you’ll get your wife back into it. You taught her years ago and she can do it. And then you’ll teach the baby when she’s old enough. And one day we’ll all be doing it as a family. And Surfer Magazine will be calling to do a profile of us and put in a big photo of the five of us with bronzed bodies and carefree hair out in the surf killing it.

A Pow-Wow

It’s summer and the kids have a friend over and they’ve told us – the parents and the baby – to go back inside the house.

And lock the door.

Another friend has come over, the neighbors’ boy. All four are playing Indians in the back of the garden, in the wild area of fallen branches, pine needles, weedy bushes and sandy mounds and hollows, and a view of the forest stretching out behind our house.

It is warm under the noon sun.

The children have tied bits of colored string around their heads and poked in feathers. The feathers are pointing up – and sideways on my son, the three-year-old. The four are sitting on stumps of firewood around what will become the fire tonight, they say. They’ve tossed pine cones and branches into a circle marked by the stumps.

Then they rise and start circling around the pit, hopping and hooting. You can almost hear the drums of a real pow-wow.

We are warned again to turn back and go inside.

“We’re good Indians,” the eldest says. “But there are savages out there.”

She points out and into the forest beyond our home, where the bats fly at night and the stray dogs and wild animals run.

They hopped and hooted and danced and jumped around the pit.

It seemed all very idyllic, so very Swallows and Amazons. Hopefully not a preface to anything like Lord of the Flies.