My four-year-old son likes to talk about Poop. He realizes it is a word of great power. If he tells a story, Poop will be an important subplot, maybe even an underlying theme. If he sings a song, it will contain a chorus where Poop is chanted over and over like a drunken jukebox anthem. If my son says to you “Knock, knock,” you need not ask, “Who’s there?”
Because it will be Poop. Poop is the one who is there.
Needless to say, this has caused my wife great distress. One cannot simply go around talking about Poop Monsters and Poop Unicorns, and certainly not at the dinner table. The decree has thus been set in stone: You only talk about Poop with Daddy. (But not at the dinner table.)
So every few days, my son asks me a question of much gravitas. “Daddy, do you want to talk about Poop?”
I say, with a tone denoting the importance of the occasion, “Yes, son.”
And we talk about the greatest of life’s mysteries, one that has troubled both scientists and theologians since the dawn of man. Where does Poop come from? Where is Poop going? What does Poop mean?
And that’s fine with me, because you would not believe the secrets I to which I am privy. Have you ever heard of a Poop Octopus? I have. Can you guess what its tentacles are made of?
That’s right. They are Poop Tentacles.
I listen to my son explain these things to me because I want to hear about Poop Zombies and Poop Balls. Wouldn’t you? I even manage to keep my serious face. But I also pay attention because I have an ulterior motive–I want my son to feel safe telling me things.
I do it for the same reason I tell my son, when he acts suspicious, “You can tell me. I won’t get mad.” I say this out loud for two reasons. One, to remind myself not to sell my child on Craigslist when he tells me what he broke. And two, because I’m training my kid to think it is safe to tell me things instead of waiting to get caught.
I don’t say, “You can tell me. You won’t get punished.” Because that might be a lie. And I don’t say “I’ll never get mad,” because sometimes my son accidentally hits me in the–let’s say in the “face”– with a plastic ThunderCats sword, and I might tell him to go to his room. I might loudly tell him to go to his room right now, and he will see said plastic sword again when I give it to him as a wedding present.
I’m trying to convince my son that it’s better to tell me things. I’m hoping one day, when Poop ceases to be his biggest concern, he’ll know who he can talk to.
Because there are problems even bigger than Poop Balls and there are things even scarier than Poop Monsters.
But in the meantime, I’m happy to hear about Poop Cars and Poop Monkeys. Do you know what Poop Monkeys live in?
Trees. They live in trees.