I took off from work last Thursday and Friday, and today, while Trish worked and our babysitter started her pre-summer tan on spring break. So I’ve had to think of things to do. Today we went to the zoo, where the polar bear was putting on a show. I swear he looked up at us several times. I could practically hear him … “Hey! Did you see that? Pretty cool, huh? Want to see it again! Come on, just watch a little longer.”

On Thursday, we, uh, well, I don’t know what we did. I’m sure it was fun.

On Friday we went to a kids’ museum, which has a lot of interactive stuff to play with. I don’t know why these places are called museums. I supposed they’re supposed to be educational, but they’re more like giant vectors for germs.

So we’re in the museum a few minutes and I Ella has to go to the bathroom. I’ve gotten over any embarrassment about taking my daughter into the men’s room. I have a distinct memory of a being in the Astrodome men’s room during an Astros game, when I was probably 6, and a man walking in with a little boy and a little girl, and being very self conscious. But, 33 years later, I’m glad to say I’ve outgrown that.

Until Friday.

There were several school groups at this place, leaving slimy handprints everywhere. And there were several dads chaperoning the kids. They all seemed to come and go from the bathroom in waves every 30 seconds.

So I’m in the handicap stall (go ahead, shame me), which is very roomy, and Ella does her business like a champ.

Then it’s my turn. Ella, who usually stands behind me, wanders to the side of me. I asked her to get back, in case there was any stray spraying — but really because it’s just a little bothering. But she persists. And finally she points at — me — and says, “Look, Dad! Look at that! Look at your LITTLE LAB!A! Look at it!”


My first thought, as a man, was to think, “‘Little’? what do you mean, ‘little’?”

Almost instantly I realized that this shouldn’t be my most pressing concern.

“Yeah, OK. That’s not what it is, but, OK, you can move now. Move. MOVE!”

I understand she doesn’t really grasp the differences between men and women. She knows I stand to pee, but she’s puzzled by urinals. She’s seen “me” before, in and out of the shower, although I’m really trying to limit that big-time now.

When I told Trish about it later that night, she, ever the nurse, asked, after a fit of laughter, if I told her it was my p*nis.

Yeah. No! I had quickly decided that a crowded men’s room was not the place for an anatomy lesson. I could imagine my correcting her, and her quickly picking up on the word, and loudly proclaiming this new vocabulary treasure, the rest of the day, to nobody in particular, in the way that we praise her for peeing in the toilet or eating her vegetables or telling her she’s a great kid.

“Dad? That’s your p*nis? That’s a very nice p*nis, Dad! I’m very proud of you for using your p*enis. Way to go, Dad! My dad knows how to use his p*nis very well.”