October 20, 2008

It's Cool To Pee Your Pants

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I apologize. There hasn’t been a lot going on lately that I’ve been able to deem blog-worthy, hence the hesitation. I’m providing this disclaimer now to warn you. I’m not sure what is about to follow is actually blog-worthy either, but it’s all I can come up with right now, so I hope you will find it entertaining, even if it’s completely stupid.

The other night, DH and I were watching an episode of This American Life on Netflix Watch Instantly (which is freakin awesome, I’d like to add). I have a friend who listens to the radio show all the time, so when it popped up as a “suggested item,” we decided to give it a shot. It’s actually quite interesting, but I digress. You are now being falsely led to think that this blog entry is about the show.

At the start of one of the episodes, there was an opener narrated by an older woman, looking back to her elementary years. She told a story about how she was on a bus with a bunch of her classmates, and she had to go to the bathroom pretty badly. Panic began to consume her as the bus pulled into a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. With a bathroom nowhere to be found in the near vicinity and the bus locked in place, this woman as her little girl self was faced with every child’s worst fear: the dreaded peeing of one’s pants.

So, in an act of self-preservation, she just slid forward in her seat and peed on the floor. The floor of the bus to her seemed like an abyss, so far away from her dangling feet. She could take care of her problem, and no one would ever know the difference. Truly, I was astounded a child this young could pull this off without being obvious or making a mess, since I myself have had two ill-fated experiences with the pop-a-squat in the bushes when you just can’t hold it anymore. (I know, too much, I apologize. But honestly, you must admit that it’s a pretty amazing talent.)

Unfortunately, she forgot to consider the fact that the bus would at some point . . . move. As the bus lurched forward, her little deposit began to spread toward the back of the bus. And then, the shouting began. Also unfortunate for her, she didn’t realize that by not jumping up and down and screeching at the discovery, she was in fact incriminating herself. From then on, this poor little girl was known as “peezilla,” which was most often, besides being shouted at her from down the hall, scrawled across her locker door. Branded for life as the girl who peed herself.

I had to laugh at this story only because it reminded me of my own fourth grade class. (And no, I was not the pee-er, thank goodness.) Near the beginning of the school year, a new kid moved in. I remember a few things about him: his family moved from Saudi Arabia—his dad worked for Exxon or something, he sat next to me during English, and he was a big jabbermouth. (He talked my ear off one time about a rollercoaster ride he’d been on and swore that someone had fallen out and been killed while he was there. Right after he got off the ride! Yeah, right.) He had new-kid-appeal for awhile until people finally realized he was just a normal kid just like the rest of us.

Then it happened. One day, someone yelled and the boy started to cry and ran out of the room. And there it was— a nice big puddle in the seat of his plastic mini-chair. Then the pandemonium let loose. Some started laughing hysterically, probably already plotting out what names they could call the boy who peed his pants, some wrinkled up their noses and looked like they might barf, most just screamed. Honestly, I only remember being shocked and wondering if it really was pee in that chair or if there had been some mistake.

My teacher was scrambling to get the class to settle down, get the janitor, and to find the boy who’d confusingly peed his pants in the middle of class with the bathrooms no more than a few feet away. I don’t even remember what happened next. I can’t remember the boy coming back to class or what they called him. I only remember one thing: the boy’s chair had been green.

The chairs in our fourth grade classrooms had two colors: puke green and burnt orange. Most of the chairs were green, a handful were orange—maybe five or so. There were many more children in my fourth grade class than five. Kids started coming to class early so that they could get orange chairs and feel secure that they weren’t sitting in “the” chair. It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on. Soon, everyone in my class was coming early, including me, and making a mad dash for the classroom to avoid the “pee chair,” which it became ceremoniously named. If you were unlucky and couldn’t fight your way to an orange chair, you had to sit on the edge of your green-maybe-it’s-the-“pee-chair” all day long. And if you did sit back all the way in your green chair, than you became just as tainted as the “pee chair,” because you could have been sitting in a place where pee once was. Bottom line, if you didn’t want to be made fun of, you did everything you could do to avoid the “pee chair.”

This went on for quite some time and was the center of gossip on the fourth grade playground: who got a green chair that day, who got an orange chair, who sat back in their green chairs on accident, and, of course, the great mystery—which one was the actual pee chair. Eventually, the epidemic even spread to the other fourth grade classrooms. (“The chair could have been moved to another classroom—all green chairs are at risk!”) The teachers realized it was an issue, and we got lectures about how the chairs had all been cleaned and how it was mean to the boy who had peed his pants to keep bringing it up, but this was not enough to stop what had snowballed into a huge ordeal. Ultimately the inevitable happened; two boys got into a scuffle over an orange chair. The one boy had run the gauntlet that morning and won the orange chair, and the other boy had stolen it during recess. They were fighting over who had rightful ownership. My teacher exploded.

“THERE IS NO PEE CHAIR!” she screamed, “Everyone sit back in your chairs, NOW! NO ONE gets an orange chair!”

Looking back, it’s kind of funny to me how kids exaggerate the whole “peeing in your pants” thing. I mean, think about it. Can’t you think of someone you teased as a kid for peeing their pants? DH has even told me a story of someone who earned a horrid nickname for the act. What’s the big deal? I mean, when Bear Grylls drinks his pee on Man vs. Wild, everyone thinks it’s great. What’s the difference? Why is it so gross when you are a kid in elementary school? And how come it sticks with the poor perpetrator for so long?

Honestly, I don’t have any theories on this, except that kids love to make fun of other kids (apparently, this doesn’t change much in adulthood) and that, let’s face it, pee is gross. What makes the difference, perhaps, is that Bear does whatever he does with his stuff voluntarily, and most of the time, peeing your pants is very involuntary. Bear is proud of his habits, and kids are quite ashamed. You can’t make fun of someone who is proud for peeing their pants, as Adam Sandler demonstrated. So, I guess if you find yourself in some situation where you have no other choice but to let it go, make sure you pee with pride.


luke and briton alo said...

In my elementary you always knew if someone had peed their pants because they would have to go to the nurse's office and get loaner undies and pants. One day at recess my friends and I were trying to jump over some puddles after a rain storm...I fell in and had to go to the nurse. Now, it wouldn't have been so bad but the pants she gave me were gross! I was super tall and skinny so the pants were way too short and they were black corduroy. It was a serious crime of fashion that terrible second grade day!

laurylaro said...

You're killin me smalls! I giggled the whole way through. I was too shy to tell my kindergarten teacher I had to go, so after I peed my pants it was off to the nurses office for a phone call to my mom to bring in a dry replacement. I don't remember being teased however, I must have been a lucky one, plus the pants probably absorbed most of it, vs shorts or a skirt mishap.

brittani c. said...

I love your musings on pee. Grade school children just can't get away from potty humor, which is the reason behind the cruel nicknames. I remember peeing my pants in kindergarten and being absolutely mortified in telling my teacher so she could call my mom to bring me a pair a dry pants. I'm actually sitting on a green chair right at work right now, but it's plush and has wheels on it.

Gini said...

I think I remember this from Mrs. Grady's class! I wasn't even there for the event, but thanks to your warnings I rarely sat in a green chair.

Mrs. Thomas said...

Exactly!! That's awesome, I can't believe you remember that!

Kendra said...

That is the funniest story ever!! Thanks for sharing!