Frank and Beans


Something I never thought I’d have say to another person: “Dude, put your pants on. You’re gonna burn your penis.”

Because most nights, my son wants to help me cook dinner. But some nights, he doesn’t want to wear clothes. As if trying to keep all of his fingers off of the hot stove wasn’t enough, now I’ve got another appendage to worry about. I’m not sure why the kid likes to be naked, but from what I can tell from informal surveys, it’s a universal issue with preschool boys. I mean, I get it. Penises are fun, why wouldn’t you want to just hang out with it? But I’m getting a little tired of looking out the window, and seeing my kid with his pants down in the front yard…peeing on the fence…waving at the neighbors.

Sure, he’s young enough now for the little old ladies walking their dogs by our house to laugh it off. But the kid’s getting older. It’ll go from awkwardly cute to awkwardly illegal pretty damn quick.

I blame my wife, who insists that his predilection for nudity is perfectly normal for a boy his age. Maybe. But I’m skeptical; she wasn’t raised with the sexual hang-ups and body guilt that have made the fully-functioning adult that I am today. I had the benefit of being raised in both a traditional Southern household and a Catholic household. In my mind, anything you do naked is a mortal sin. Even taking a shower requires three Hail Mary’s. We thought the Jesus statue at our church was a little risqué. I mean, why can’t he wear a t-shirt?

So I’m doing my best to negate my wife’s well-adjusted approach to innocent nudity and instill the same hang-ups in my children that I enjoyed. I may permanently fuck them up emotionally and psychologically, but at least I’ll avoid having to explain a second-degree burn to my son’s Frank and Beans to the suspicious ER doctor…and subsequent Social Services advocate.

The Penis Dialogues

The best thing about taking your 3.5-year-old boy on a swanky studio stroll? When you’re in a crowded studio and you ask him if he needs to go potty, he says, “hang on. Let me ask my penis.” Then he looks down at his pants and says, “Penis. Do you have to go pee pee?”

Everyone knows that men make all of their decisions with their penis, but I think my son may be taking that concept a bit literally. Or maybe this is the start of a beautiful relationship between a boy and his imaginary friend. Either way, I see therapy bills in our future.

Hot Tub Toddler Machine

My sister-in-law was married recently, with my wife’s entire family descending onto a set of cabins deep in the woods of Western North Carolina. I’ve known The Bride since she was about 10, so it was a little surreal to see her get married. Not that I got to see much of it. I was busy chasing the kids around the field all weekend, always trying to corral them toward the kegs so I could top off my beer. But the ceremony was beautiful, my sister-in-law is married to a great guy, and I got to dance with my wife, which pretty much never happens. The weekend was also full of wonderful father-son moments for me and my boy. Sure, I was charged with taking care of both kids all weekend, but my daughter quickly found herself at the center of a gaggle of “big girls.” The pack of seven-year-olds spent the entire weekend taking turns braiding my daughter’s hair. So that freed me up to spend some quality time with the boy. Here are three tear-jerking father-son moments from the weekend. Cue “Cats in the Cradle.”

 Cooper had his first beer.

Not really. He had sweet tea for the first time. But I told him it was a beer, and he went around the rest of the weekend pulling on the coattails of random family members, asking, “will you get me another beer?” Classic.

 I figured out what toddlers are good for: cutting through long bathroom lines.

Nobody wants to see a three-year-old in a seer sucker suit pee himself. Did I imply to a line full of older ladies that my boy had to go sooner rather than later? Did I take advantage of their kindness and rush my kid into the bathroom ahead of them only to use the potty myself? Maybe. I think it’s important not to judge others too harshly.

 Cooper hit on two older girls at once. 

Specifically, he walked right up to two sisters (seven years old and five years old) and said, “you girls wanna get in the hot tub with me?” That alone is impressive for a three year old, but consider this: he wasn’t wearing any pants at the time. All of a sudden, “you girls wanna get in the hot tub with me?” has a bit more swagger when you’re completely naked. That’s my boy.

Booby Traps

We had one of those beautiful days where the kids were super cute. Cooper called Baby Jesus on my iPhone and Addie ran from her shadow at the park. They said “thank you” when I handed them juice and they built a block tower together without coming to blows. Perfect little angels. Of course, they were just setting a booby trap. They were lulling me into a false sense of security and would at some point during the day launch an all out assault of toddler chaos. Think Nazi Germany wooing Russia before invading them.

Yes, I just compared my children’s subterfuge to that of Nazi Germany. Hang out with two three-year-olds long enough, and you’ll find it’s not that much of a stretch.

There was no way to tell when the kids would turn on me, only that they would as soon as I let my guard down. Perhaps while I tried to sneak in a quick shower, they’d pull the blender out of the cabinet and make a “peanut butter and daddy’s wallet” smoothie.

In the meantime, the sneaky munchkins kept being cute, smelling our rosemary bush and saying it smelled like spaghetti. Holding hands and saying, “it’s a beautiful day.” Trying to hula-hoop together in the same hoop. Adorable! Real melt your heart kind of shit.

Honestly, it was a maddening day waiting for the bomb to go off. It was like being stuck in the first hour of a Hitchcock movie–all anticipation and foreshadowing and no violence.

And then, the violence came.

It happened at nap time. Well, it was supposed to be nap time. I turned my back on them for 12 seconds and they used their milk to grease their crib railings to facilitate a quicker escape. Without a proper nap, they were free to fulfill their true toddler nature, which began with a sizable tantrum because I would not let them finger paint on the couch and ended with both of my kids peeing off the top of the slide at the playground. No shit. The night ended with me wondering how much trouble I would get into if I duct-taped them to their beds.

I’m still not sure about the legality of that parenting technique, but I’m sure if I explained myself to Social Services, maybe showed them a few videos, they’d understand.

F#@K Potty Training: A letter of apology to friends recently wronged

Dear Friends,

First, thank you for the donuts. It was really sweet of you to invite us over on a rainy saturday morning and let our wild kids hang out with your much better behaved children. Our kids loved it!

Second, I’m really sorry my daughter pooped in your dining room.

What can I say? We’re potty training. Shit happens. Literally. I’m really sorry it happened in your house. Twice apparently. If I’m to understand the situation correctly, after we left, you found two separate balls of poop–one in the playroom and another in your dining room? Damn, that’s embarrassing.

But I can’t say that I’m surprised. As I said, we’re potty training. Twins. At the same time. The last few weeks have been a blur of urine and feces, most of which has been found in places it’s not supposed to go. I’m happy to report that they’re getting the hang of it, but there are still accidents. I know a lot of parents simply refuse to leave the house with their kids during this tough developmental period. I can understand the inclination to hunker down until the potty training storm blows over and the children have better control over their bowels, but I will not live in fear. No sir, we’ve kept to our regular schedule, running errands, visiting friends, going to gymnastics…it’s like playing Russian Roulette. You pull the trigger enough times, the gun will eventually go off.

(Which reminds me, I should probably take this opportunity to apologize to the fine folks of REI. I’m really sorry my kid peed in your tent display. And your elevator. My bad.)

Unfortunately, dear friends, the gun went off in your well-appointed dining room. This is embarrassing enough, but I was absolutely mortified when I learned that you mistook the small turd for a toy ball and picked it up with your bare hands. Man, that sucks.

If I may point out a silver lining–at least you had hardwoods. It could’ve been a lot worse.

So, to recap–thanks again for having us over. The donuts were delicious. Sorry about the poop.


–the Averills


Nobody Touch My Poop

One of the great mysteries of parenthood? Why toddlers who are potty training become overly possessive about their poop. Seriously. You’d think we were flushing their puppy down the toilet. We had a nice little screaming session this morning because our boy didn’t want his mom to take the poop out of his big boy underwear. And he definitely didn’t want her to flush it down the toilet. He melted into a naked mess on the bathroom floor and then came back several times to visit his poop in the toilet after he’d calmed down.

He’s not alone. I know other toddlers with the same sense of attachment. One dad tried to get to the bottom of the mystery by reasoning with his child, asking him a series of very logical questions. The result of the Socratic discussion was this: his boy likes the color brown.

Very logical.

I’m sure there is plenty of child development research that would tell me exactly why kids turn their poop into a friend. Maybe I’ll look them up later. In the meantime, I’m choosing to focus on the positive indicators of this new development. If nothing else, it shows my kid is loyal, even to feces. You gotta respect that. Never leave a man behind. Even if that man is poop.