“Itsy Bitsy Spider” by Nicholas Erwin

I recently watched a nature documentary that said there is only a four percent genetic difference between Chimpanzees and humans. Whoever conducted that study obviously never raised a little boy. I did and, believe me, four percent is generous.

I often thought the evolution argument could be easily won by the believer side. Just let a bunch of seven-year-old boys loose in a sealed room with a two-way mirror. Set the non-believers on some benches in an adjoining room in front of the mirror. Pull back the curtain and simply tell the non-believers, “Watch this.” After about an hour, not only will they agree man descended from ape, they will swear we still have a long way to go.

There is a lot of back and forth these days about gender identity. Gender is fluid, some say. By that, they mean if you identify as a male, you are a male despite having a chromosomal make up to the contrary. I largely stay out of the argument, but, as the parent of two girls and a boy, I must confess I find the argument a little hard to swallow. For one thing, they conveniently omit the “spider question” in the debate. In the event you don’t know, the “spider question” is a simple query that automatically identifies male versus female.

The question is: How many spiders did you pee on as a kid?

If the answer is “none” then you will be hard pressed to convince the average parent of little boys you are a male.

I raised two daughters and never once did either one of them pee on a spider. It wasn’t just a plumbing issue. The thought never crossed their mind. Their little brother was a different matter altogether. Pity the arachnid that spun a web low enough to the ground for the boy draw a bead on (so to speak). Suffice to say, in our back yard it wasn’t rain that washed the Itsy-Bitsy spider down the waterspout.

He didn’t limit himself to spiders either. He was an equal opportunity drencher. If it crawled upon the earth, it was fair game. Same with his friends. Many a pee-fest took place in our back yard with streams a flying and bugs trying to get the hell out of Dodge.

His mother, never having been a little boy, chided him about it. “Don’t you dare pee on that [insert bug type here]!” she would say. Her efforts might have gotten that particular bug a reprieve, but somehow, somewhere a bug out there was going to get it. (And don’t get me started on ant hills).

It wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t help himself. He was a little boy. Peeing on insects was a genetic imperative.

Another thing that never occurred to my daughters is to pee on a sliding board to make you go faster when you slide. My cousins and I used to do that all the time. My mom once had to break up a fight amongst us when my cousin, Tim – the youngest of us all, in a thoroughly selfish act, wasted his pee by peeing on a moth that lit on the side of the sliding board ladder rather than saving it for the slide.

Mom was unaware of our solution to slide lubrication and expressed a bit of shock and horror when we explained the reason for our outrage. She also expressed to us what dire circumstances we would find ourselves in if the practice didn’t stop. Pronto! I am not sure what she had against going fast on a slide, but, then again, she had never been a little boy.

I sometimes compare notes with other fathers of little boys, current or past, and we all basically have the same experiences.

“Could you ever get yours to wear pants when he was little?” I ask.

“What? Are you kidding?” the other father says. “He’d wear a shirt. But pants? Forget it.”

Not wearing pants came in handy when doing battle with your older sisters. My boy once stopped a rage-fueled frontal assault by both his sisters by yelling, “Stop or I’ll pee on you!”

Stop they did. Eyes ablaze. Faces red.

The standoff ended with them leaving in defeat. What choice did they have? He was a quick draw expert; an excellent shot and they were not nearly as hard to hit as spiders.