In My Ohio

​On What to Do When Your Son Says A Painting Looks Like His Penis

Darren C. Demaree
​Thomas is potty training. He’s been slow at the process thus far. If and when we can get him to sit down on this little, sticker-decorated toilet (a sticker for every victory) he will use it every time. However, “the feeling” part of it has been difficult. He still uses his diapers/pull-ups all day, and we would very much like to be done with all of that. So, in the mornings, after we walk my daughter to her bus stop, we’ve been doing an hour in regular underwear. He gets really excited to pick out each pair of Ninja Turtles or Mickey Mouse underwear, and he struts around the house wearing them. This will normally last for twenty to thirty minutes before he doesn’t react quickly enough to “the feeling”, and I’ve got a small mess to clean up.
This morning, after thirty-five minutes (a new record), just a little bit of pee escaped before we could get to the toilet. I affixed him to his seat so he could finish, and I cleaned up the small mess. After that, I took the soiled Leonardo underwear to the washer in the basement, and started a load. This took me a few minutes, and while I was in clean-up mode, Thomas, who was imbued with the confidence only a naked child carries, had decided to find me in the basement.
He had turned on all of the lights in the finished section of our basement. He had turned on the television, but not the AppleTV (he hasn’t figured that out yet). So, every possible thing that could glow was glowing. He had stood up on the couch next to the painting I bought from a grad school friend, a large canvas with bright reds and yellows, an explosion of color set against what was originally an ex-ray of a woman’s hip. The title of the painting is “An Ode to the Virgin and the Dynamo”, which seemed perfectly juxtaposed to Thomas’ nakedness.
Once he saw that the audience he was waiting on had finally arrived, he lifted his penis and scrotum in his hands to stretch it towards the painting, and he yelled, “Daddy, look this picture looks like my penis!” I lost it. I laughed so hard that I cried. The potty incidents are always stressful and frustrating, the clean-up is never fun, and when I emerged from the laundry portion of our house with another sour look on my face, I was prepared to help put one more diaper on my son. I wasn’t prepared to see him stretch out his privates to prove that they looked like a painting my wife and I had bought with some of our wedding money.
Thomas, who believes that he is already hilarious, started laughing as well, and he came over to me to revel in his own genius. After I stopped laughing, not willing to let his moment pass, he went over to the painting again to repeat the process. This time I grabbed a diaper and with three moves, I had his little brush tucked away. I sat him down on the couch to ask him why he thought the painting looked like his penis, and he said, “Because it does. Lots of things look like my penis.” I said, “Okay.” That was all I could come up with. I’ve thought through and already had some difficult discussions on gender, privates, sexuality, even race with our children, but I had no answer to my son considering a piece of art an homage to his penis. He was seeing his penis everywhere apparently. I said, “Okay.”
Obviously we’ve spent a lot of time on the potty issue, and I’ve spent hours talking to him about how important it is that he learn how to use it all of the time. All of that talk has focused his mind maybe too much on the process of going to the bathroom. His penis has become an enigma and a point of interest in his life. Now, he considers it to be akin to a work of art. That will keep me laughing for decades. That has already worked its way into any speech I will give in his honor. He will forget all about saying it, but he will never out-live this one.