Please, Not Another Penis Rule

I’m afraid to say it, but we need a new Penis Rule.

Honestly, how many of these rules do we need? Thank goodness that I haven’t engraved them on a tablet somewhere. I would’ve run out of room. Did anyone know boys were this complicated?

So it turns out Tornado E is in that special time in his life where he’s growing hair where there wasn’t hair before. No word on those special feelings yet; he seems particularly obtuse.

While obviously his age and the tiny pimples gracing his face would be a clue that Tornado E is in puberty, I know about the new hair development because of two annoying brothers, who separately, within minutes, barged in on Tornado E taking a shower. With him yelling out at his brother, the brother came running, excitedly over to me to yell, “Tornado E has hair on his penis!”


“Well, everyone will grow pubic hair during their puberty. One day you will grow hair there.”

Insert comment about their dad that I really don’t want to revisit.

“That’s what happens when you’re an adult.”

Then repeat the scene all over again with the next brother.

Little brothers are annoying. I should know. I had two of them. So new rule: No more barging on siblings or parents while they are taking a shower.

There I said it. Finally.

And they respect that rule.

Unless they have to pee.

Or they want to play video games.

Or their brother has hit him.

Or he did not hit him.

Or yes, he did.

Or Papi is being mean.

Christ, when can I take a shower without being interrupted?

Only when the boys are asleep…..


More Things I Didn’t Think I Needed to Say

I walked into the bedroom after bedtime. To find. Tornado S still getting dressed and Tornado A lying face down with his naked butt in the air.

Because it’s totally normal for a seven-year-old to go to bed naked and stick his butt in the air.

Me: Get dressed.

Tornado A: Why?

Me: Because no one goes to bed naked around here.

Tornado A: Why?

Me: Because you’re not old enough (to remember to put on clothes if we have to do an emergency exit).

Tornado A: Fine.

Then he got underwear on.

Is this going to be another Penis Rule? We go to bed with clothes on.

Another Sentence I Didn’t Think I Would Say

There are lots of sentences that I say that never occurred to me that I would say.  I’ve witnessed events or actions that seemed impossible to take place.  And yet it all happened.  It’s part of parenthood.

Take Friday.  As I open the garage door and looked behind me to watch Tornado E and Tornado S sharing a toilet and Tornado E resting his elbow on Tornado S’s head.

Me: Keep your hands off your brother and on your penis!

Yes.  I had to say it.  Why did I have to say it?  Why would I ever have to say it?  Shouldn’t he already have known to not touch people when peeing?  To hold on and aim?

I was so underprepared for motherhood.

Boys and their Potty Issues

Me: So how are your houseguests?

The Sweet Girl’s Mom told me a college friend of her husband’s was staying with them.  He and his two sons.  She had rushed around to get the house in order and finish the preparations for her daughter’s birthday party.

We watched the jumper and scanned the gym full of children, searching for any signs of trouble.

My friend: I understand what you go through with the boys?

Me: (chuckling) Have they turned the house upside down?

My friend: Yes.  I mean, no.  That’s not what I meant.  They don’t aim.  There was pee everywhere in the bathroom after they went to bed last night.  On the floor.  On the toilet.  Behind the toilet.  On the wall.

Me: I’m sorry.

My friend: And it’s worse in the morning!  Sleepy boys don’t aim.  It was disgusting.  I don’t know how you deal with it.  And these boys are 9 and 11!  You have YEARS of this to go!  All I could think as I cleaned it up was “Poor Fae, she must do this every day and night.”

Me: It’s bad.  I just avoid the bathroom most days.  I use Clorox wipes.  Did you?

My friend: I did.  I just don’t understand how they can’t aim at their ages.

Me: My brothers were accusing me of peeing on the toilet even while I was away at college.  My mom asked them, “Do you think I actually believe Fae turns around and faces the toilet and pees to get you in trouble?”

My friend: Boys.  Boys are so . . . gross.

Me: You don’t even know the half of it.  I’m going to make a spray that’s suppose to kill the smell.

My friend: YOU mean it stays?!?!?!?!!!!

Me: Um, no.  I doubt you have the same problem.  One night versus every day.

My friend: Oh, thank God.

Me: (I gave her a hug.)  I’m so sorry.  Boys have some weird issues.  TORNADO E!  Do NOT do Spinjitzu on your brother!

Hand Preference

We were at the school having lunch with Tornado S because he was Student of the Week.  Tornado S got to draw a poster about himself, be lineleader all week, be the teacher’s helper, do show and tell, and also get to have his parents have lunch with him.  To make it extra special, we always bring a kid’s meal of some sort.

Their Father: Look.  He’s eating with his right hand.

Me: Yes.  He’s been using his right more, but he is still switching.

Teacher: Oh, he’s still switching.

She looked over at the other two teachers.  They all nodded agreement.

Teacher: But.  Tornado S’s working very hard with strengthening those hand muscles.  Cutting with scissors.  Holding a tissue as he writes.  (Pause.)  Um.  What?  Um.  What hand does he use when he. . . um . . . when he um . . . . What does he use when he’s in the bathroom?

Being surrounded by talkative, smart, attentive kindergarteners didn’t help, but I had a feeling that even without the kids, this teacher would have a hard time articulating.  She didn’t raise boys.  At least, not boys like mine.

Me: (A smile.  A raised eye brow.) He doesn’t.

The teacher looked startled.  Her facial expression spoke for her.  He doesn’t?

Me: Nope.  He just stands there and (I raised my hands to head level.) lets it fly.

Teacher: Oh Go-.  Oh my.

Me: Yup.

Teacher: Well, you know.  They have hand preference with that too.  With holding it for the bathroom.  And.  Um.  And.  You know.  (Breathe)  When he gets a little holder, he’ll prefer a hand to um . . . to . . . that thing that starts with an “M.”

If I didn’t like this woman so much, I would have acted like I didn’t know.  It would have been an entertaining five minutes.  Or if I were more evil.

Me:  We saw Gattaca. We know.

Though that reminds me.

New penis rule:



Please don’t do that again

Tornado E’s school is surrounded with giant, old eucalyptus trees.  As any kid knows, they make great sticks.  Some are great sized for swords.  Many of them work as staffs.  Every once in a while Tornado E finds the perfect pitch fork.  All three of my boys have to take one home every day.  Asked a teacher, “My, what are you boys going to build with those sticks?”  “A bonfire,” I answered.  (For the record, I really do want a fire pit.  Ah, fire.)

The other cool thing about Tornado E’s school is the playground is about 100 yards from the school itself.  It has basketball couts and a giant sandbox.  There are benches and tables under trees.  It has plenty of room for kids to run and play.  For mothers with little ones, it is perfectly acceptable to let those little ones play on the playground for a little bit after school has started as the mothers talk.

The other day I was on the swing with Tornado A, and Tornado S was trying to make friends with two other younger siblings.  Because the children already knew each other, Tornado S was having a hard time connecting with them.

Then he decided to stop asking questions, stop asking them to play, and stop telling them stories.  He wondered off and found a two-foot-long stick and waved it around.  He brought it back to the kids.

Tornado S: Look at this cool stick!

Boy: Uh-huh.

Tornado S: It’s a sword!

Boy: Uh-huh.

Tornado S: It’s a light saber!

Boy: Uh-huh.

Tornado S swung the stick more.  He started t0 draw with it.  With the bottom of the stick still touching the ground, he rested the top part on his crotch.

Tornado S: HEY!  Look at my penis!


Me: (With The Voice) TORNADO S!  Come here, NOW!

Tornado S picked up his stick and walked over.

Me: We don’t pretend things are our penis.  Especially in public.

I shouldn’t have to make rules like this.


New Rule: No more penis jokes

Me: What did one chip say to the other chip?

Tornado E: I don’t know.

Me: Let’s take a dip.

Tornado E and Tornado S started laughing, and because they were laughing, Tornado A started laughing.

Tornado E: Ok.  My turn.  What did one chocolate chip say to the other chocolate chip?

Me: I don’t know.  What?

Tornado E: Let’s go in the batter!

Me: Um, Tornado E?

Tornado E: Get it!  It’s because chocolate chips go into the batter.

Me: Well, I don’t think-

Tornado S: I’ve got one!  What did one penis say to the other penis?

Me: Tornado S-

Tornado E: What?!

Tornado S: PENIS!

Tornado E and Tornado S howled with laugher, and because they were laughing, Tornado A joined in.

God, help me.

Tornado E: I’ve got one!  Knock knock!

Tornado S: Who’s there?

Tornado E: PENIS!

My “that’s not funny” was lost in the laughter of three boys.

Tornado S: What did Stupid Guy say to The Emperor?!

Tornado E: What?!

Oh God.

Tornado S: PENIS!


And more laughter.

Couldn’t they stick to slap stick instead?

Tornado E: Hey, Tornado S!

Me: Ok!  If you want dessert, then get outside!

Three boys raised outside with cookies.  At least that will keep them quiet for a little while….

I could have sworn I had a rule against penis jokes already.  Something that shouldn’t be violated for a couple more years.

Going from clever to not funny

Years ago I fell in love with the X-box version of “Gauntlet.”  As often when you love something, my friends and I started including game quotes in our every day interactions.  Who doesn’t love “Blue Warrior needs food badly?”  When one of us did something new or brilliant it was “Green Valkyrie has gained a level.”  With whatever character was our character.  Ah, the fun we have.

Now my boys are slightly obsessed with “Skylanders.”  Tornado E often says “The Water Element is stronger in this zone” (when in the pool) or “The Undead Element is stronger in this zone” (at night).  It’s rather quite brilliant and cute.

Or it was.

Until Tornado S came up with “The Penis Element is stronger in this zone.”  He repeats it often because he finds it funny.

Sometimes I think I’m raising Frat boys.  Heaven help me.

And them.

Not another penis rule

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises does a snowman have?

Me: Um, what?  What?!

Tornado S: TWO!  One to keep!  And one to throw at people!

Me: What?

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises does a monster have?!

Me: Tornado S, I don’t know if-

Tornado S: TWO!  One to pee with!  And one to throw at good guys!

Me: Tornado S, we need to talk.  About these jokes.  We don’t make jokes about penises.  And-

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises do I have?!

Me: Oh, dear God, no.

Tornado S: ONE!!!  I fooled you, Mommy!  You were going to say two!

Me: No.  I happen to know you only have one.

Tornado S: Mommy!

Me: Tornado S!  No more jokes about penises.

Tornado S: But they’re funny.

Me: No.  No, they’re not.  I’m sorry, but you have to know, as part of the clan, you have to work on your material.  It’s just the way it is in the family.  And no more penis jokes.

Tornado S: But-

Me: No.

Christ, I thought I had until Tornado E went to camp.  Does any one know how many penis rules I’m up to now?  Because I forgot.

How many penis rules do I need?

Me: Then I walked into the bathroom to find Tornado S not holding his penis and facing toward the tub.  HE was peeing in the tub!  And I yelled.  “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”  And then he turned his body towards me.  And pee went Ev.Ry.WHERE.  And-

My Mom: You should’ve known better.

I responded with raising one eyebrow with a skeptical you’re-actually-questioning-me look that I perfected in my childhood.

Me: I didn’t know what to do.  So I ran in.  Grabbed his thing and aimed it.  Jesus.  How complicated is that?

A gleam of laughter flashed in her eyes.

I had no doubt that her mind went back to years before when she was raising two little boys who had their own aiming problems.  Aiming problems that they blamed on me until I moved away for college.  “So you’re telling me that your sister sat on the pot facing backwards, towards the tank, aimed and pissed all over the toilet just to get you boys into trouble and to make you scour the bathroom.”  The sarcasm was thick as honey.  Personally I thought it was a bit childish and crude for a prank; I prefered just casually asking why The Face moved The Truck from its parking spot after fourth period or asking The Friendly (not so ) Giant if he got his test back, at the dinner table.  My mom would divide the scouring chores and sent the grumbling boys to the bathroom not allowing them out until it gleamed and the stench of piss was no longer in the air.  “God help you if you have boys,” she said and went to her room to lose herself in a historical romance novel.  I looked up from my own book (not a historical romance) and shrugged.  Seriously, what were the chances I would have boys?

Then the gleam was gone.  Her voice remained cool and mom-like.

My Mom: Did you give him a sponge and tell him to clean it up?

Me: No.  He melted when I questioned him.  I felt he just needed to go straight to bed.  He was overly tired, and I assumed he wasn’t getting put to bed on time when I was away.  (Pause.  I shake my head.)  Mom.  What do I have to do to get them to aim?  Do I have to make this a rule too?  It shouldn’t be so hard.  It’s point and shoot!

She can’t raise just one eyebrow.  But she gave me a look of you’re asking me that question.