Add to the list of phrases I never thought I would have to use:
"Don't take the Slinky into the men's room."
I have seen what my own boys can do to their bathroom, so the mind reels at just how down-and-dirty a public men's room can get.
The Little Kid's first first-grade report card came home, and I was pleased to see that he got E's ("excellents") in "obeys school rules," "respects authority" and "talks at appropriate times" (a lifelong thorn in the Big Kid's side). I was unsurprised to learn that Mr. Popularity gets top marks in "works/plays well with others." Also unsurprising: the satisfactory scores in "does neat work," "follows directions" and "has supplies and cares for materials." Reason why this is unsurprising: I cleaned the boys' bathroom this morning, after noticing that the Big Kid had moved his toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant into our bathroom (a sure sign that the Little Kid's lack of concern over cleanliness had hit critical mass - it takes a lot to make the Big Kid head for the hills).
Among other items, I found his toothbrush on the floor (eww), a Mountain Dew can on the counter (he's not supposed to be drinking Mountain Dew, and certainly not outside of the kitchen or eating area - see "follows directions," above), sticky Mountain Dew residue on the actual surface of the counter, and underwear balled up in the corner that - um - contained certain telltale evidence that, for the eleventy billionth time, he confused his undergarments with toilet paper. (This reminds me of a particularly poignant story that my husband recounts about his own Boy Mom, who had it exactly twice as badly as I have it: Son #4 screamed that Son #3 rubbed a "skid mark" on his head, and my mother-in-law reflexively turned to my husband, AKA Son #2, hugged him, and moaned "I don't even know what a skid mark IS, and I don't think I WANT to know." I do know what they are, Mom, and apparently a predisposition to create them runs in the family. As a female person, this confuses the heck out of me, because short of acquiring senile dementia I see no scenario in which my brain would overlap "underwear" and "toilet paper" on a Venn diagram.)
I should point out that I HAD JUST CLEANED THEIR BATHROOM. It does not take the kid long to funk something up, but good. I mean, I expect to deal with hygiene issues with the Big Kid, but nine times out of ten when we are packing one of the boys off to take a shower or bath, holding our nose and saying "you smell like a goat," the goat in question is the Little Kid.
Showers with him are tons of fun, too. The master bathroom in the apartment has a garden tub, and he's quite fond of lying down in it - while the shower is running overhead. Inevitably, his foot engages the plug, and the tub starts to fill with soapy water. I get him upright and (leaning over the side in the most uncomfortable manner) shampoo his hair and rinse it clean - and then he promptly LIES BACK DOWN IN THE SOAP SUDS. You've heard of "lather, rinse, repeat"? This kid LIVES lather, rinse, repeat.
I have said it before, and I will say it again - God knew what He was doing when He gave me boys. On balance, I know that, given quirks of my own personality, I am far better off navigating Boy Parenting than Girl Parenting. But the hygiene issues . . . those I could do without. Part of the problem is I lack a frame of reference: I was an only child, my parents showered on a regular basis, and no one in my house smelled remotely goatlike, ever. I didn't have a brother to break me in on all matters stink-adelic.
Friends with girls assure me that they can be just as foul - but I would pit my Parker James against them any day with a Y in it.