When I Poop My Masterpiece

I’ve always tried to encourage my children in all of their artistic endeavors. True, I have absolutely refused to allow finger paints to come inside my house, and I view playdo as something that has crept up from the depths of Hell, sworn to wreak havoc on the carpets of the world, but other than that–other than my complete unwillingness to put up with any kind of mess whatsoever–I have always been very supportive of art in the home. It’s just that, preferably, I’d like to support art in somebody else’s home.

When art projects do manage to get done in my house, I like them to be orderly: although I can appreciate in the abstract what Jackson Pollack was trying to express, I don’t necessarily want him to be painting at my kitchen table. It’s the same with my children: while I don’t go so far as to tell my kids that they must color inside the lines, I do tell them that they must at least color inside the page. As you may have guessed, this also means that finger painting, papier- mache, and anything involving glitter is also out, as well as any activity that involves pulling all the cushions off of the couch or stretching a sheet between two dining room chairs.

You might think, reading this laundry list of forbidden arts, that my children would grow up bereft of artistic outlets (that was what I thought, at least). But you would be wrong, because there is one form of artistic expression that even I can’t repress, one that, much to my chagrin, my son Clyde discovered all on his own. Performance Art.

Actually, Clyde’s chosen artistic medium can best be described as part performance art and part temporary installation, and while it is not technically “messy,” it still manages to set off the “messiness alarms” inside my head. Clyde, it would seem, is on the cutting edge of what, for lack of a better term, I will refer to as The Bowel Movement.

In other words: he absolutely refuses to flush the toilet.

This is not due to forgetfulness on his part, nor any kind of general male cluelessness. He honestly just doesn’t see the point of flushing away a piece of work that he has put so much time and energy into creating.

“Mom! Mom! Come look,” he’ll shout at me from the bathroom, and I will dutifully troop in to see the latest masterpiece.

“Very nice,” I’ll say, torn between being supportive and being grossed out. “Now let’s flush.

“No! I want Daddy to see it.”

“Daddy won’t be home for four hours. Maybe you can just tell him about it.”

“It won’t be the same.”

No, it won’t, and won’t Daddy be all the luckier for that?

In all other respects he is a normal child: he doesn’t keep a tissue collection of his “favorite sneezes;” he doesn’t keep his toenail clippings in a jar; he doesn’t even keep the flowers he receives for his anniversary until they are all brown and spider-webby (oh wait; that’s me). He just doesn’t flush. Which, I suppose, isn’t all that bad.

Except that my only point of reference for this behavior is a former room-mate who used to take Polaroids of his “greatest works” and post them on the fridge with captions such as : “Three Bic Macs, two pounds of lil’ smokies and a Mountain Dew Big Gulp later…”

Still, I suppose it could be worse. After all, as I always tell myself after flushing Clyde’s latest masterpiece, he could have chosen a really awful form of artistic expression. He could have chosen Legos.

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