Two days ago, my son pooped on the lawn. Yes, the front lawn. From what I understand he apparently opened our screen door and snuck outside while my wife was washing dishes in the kitchen. Then, having concluded his “business,” he came back in and proclaimed his victory over the outdoors. I mean, who can blame him?
As a writer, this is gold. And there’s a part of me that immediately thinks, “I am going to put this in the backstory of one of my characters.” It’s funny, endearing, and oddly not disgusting. (At least to me, but then I’ve been wiping bums for years. It takes a lot to dial up my gross-o-meter.)
But there’s also the side of me that says, “Whoa. Don’t take away the kid’s right to an unblemished life! Not everyone needs to know that he pooped on the lawn. He still has to go through middle school and high school. What if one of his classmates reads about that? Those rotten kids will put some synonym of defecation with his name and he’ll never get to have a normal life.”
Then I think of another pooping incident that happened in my family. And no, it wasn’t me. Suffice to say, though, that it was a sibling – and he or she was MUCH closer to the road, and even waved to passing cars, who kindly beeped to alert that a social potty norm was being violated.
For years growing up, my parents repeated this story. I think most of my extended family has heard it. I know all of this sibling’s friends have heard it. Personally I’ve heard it at least twenty times.
Now those instances were only word-of-mouth, but I still think they qualify as over-sharing. And people do this all the time on Facebook. They post pictures and funny anecdotes about their kids. They even gripe about their kids, as if one day Little Junior won’t get his own account, friend request them, and then scroll through their parent’s posting history to see what dirt he can find to get out of trouble the next time he stays out too late.
It’s not a new trend, in other words. I imagine if we could accurately decipher cave drawings, we’d probably learn about someone’s kid pooping in the cave.
And, of course, writers are notorious for roping their family – and their family’s secrets – into stories. Tennessee Williams famously wrote detailed accounts of his life, the Glass Menagerie being an easy example. Arthur Miller had three sons. Samuel D. Hunter grew up in Idaho in a Mormon family. And I’m no exception, although I change names and genders and locations, which invariably creates a unique character.
But I will admit that it’s unsettling when that ‘writer’ side of my brain sees an event in my personal life and wants to take notes for a potential script. I don’t want to give it away; and yet, it’s also plain to see I’m not alone, that parents and adults have been doing this for eons.
I guess it’s just a natural response to life, an attempt to keep a moment from disappearing. Most of us love our children and our families so much that highlights are indeed worth their weight in gold. And words.
By the way, notice that I didn’t say which one of my boys did the deed? You’re safe for now, ______.