The female teacher burst into my office and said, “I need a man to speak to one of the first grade boys.” I complied, and as we emerged toward the confrontation she told me about the boy she caught peeing in the bushes on the edge of the playground. What was he thinking? How could he be so crude? The teacher did not know what to make of it.
“If you come up on him quickly, you will scare him,” she announced. I peeked around the corner from my office. The boy was visibly shaking—he had never been to the principal’s office before.
Walking up to him, I grabbed a football and said firmly but welcomingly, “Follow me outside, Jon.” We made our way to the center of the playground far from others’ ears and threw the ball for a couple of minutes. When I felt that he was breathing again, I said, as I threw the ball, “Been peeing in the bushes, huh?”
Amazingly, he caught the ball, then sheepishly answered, “Yes, sir.”
“Hmm,” I intoned with undetectable meaning, and we kept throwing the ball. “Did anyone see you?”
With wide eyes he said, “I hope not! I tried to get behind the bushes.” Passing the ball for another minute, I asked him, “If you hadn’t gone in the bushes would you have made it back to the bathroom without having an accident?”
“No, I really had to go.” He held the ball to see what was next.
“As odd as this sounds, Jon,” I replied, “it seems to me you made the right call. Good job.” He smiled. I suggested, “How about we go find the bathroom, so that you know where it is? And you promise to go the bathroom on your way to recess every day, so that this doesn’t happen again.”
As we walked back toward the buildings, we were two men with a secret agreement about manhood that seemed to make sense to both of us.