you had to be there

You had to be there. It’s what we say after an attempt to express a moment that was funny in the living but falls flat in the telling. And I’m sure this will be the case, yet I still feel compelled to record the moment, so it’s here in the future, to have and to hold.

We were at the ocean in Florida, visiting my mother for Thanksgiving. The beans and I headed with Phil to Bathtub Beach, with the promise of clear water, soft sands, and "No one goes. It’ll be perfect." We learned, upon our arrival, that no one goes because it’s fucking closed. There was a big out of order sign, as if beaches simply stop working, the plumbing gummed up. We put our chins up, did a U-ey, and headed to the beach nearby, which ought to have been named Sandbar Beach.

We lugged our gear to the shore, all buttered up in SPF, hats attached, "Little Swimmer" diapers on, sandals, sunglasses, and sustenance. We would be there for a while. That was our plan, until we actually made it from the parking lot to the shore. The "sand" must’ve been imported from a demolition site. It was a bunch of pissed off, feuding rocks, their relationship in crumbles.  We were on the rocks. It hurt to walk. But dammit, it was our first time at the ocean together as a family, so we were determined to make it happen. Even if "happen" meant a few bruises and some sand in my box.

We made the most of it, but when trying to build sand castles led to bleeding, I stood up and called it a day. It’s when I realized that my ass was covered in sand. I need to rinse. At this point, Phil made a song of it.

"Mama’s gotta dirty butt, oh yeah!" He sang it a few times, and after they’d repeated the chant together, Phil would sing half the lyrics, then point to the beans for their solos. "Mama’s gotta?…"

"DIRTY BUTT!" They’d scream. Nice. Real nice.

Months later, after a family dinner of homemade shrimp in lobster sauce, Phil still sings this song with them, not realizing how catchy the tune was at the time. They still know when to scream DIRTY BUTT, at just the right decible, the one that leaves mama laughing, while saying, "No, not nice, you guys!" Phil’s also taken to teaching them other fill-in-the-blank quips. "What does mama love to do? That’s right! Mama SNORES." For the record, mama has never snored, not even drunk. Ever. Seriously, ever. Snorted while laughing, oh my God YES, but snore, hells no.

kind sir basketball

It was war. I was going in for the kill. Phil is a man. Not a boy, a full on man. Full of opinions, never gives a shit what anyone thinks of him, but he has this wee issue with the potty. He has "stage fright" when it comes to peeing in public bathrooms, and even at home, in private, with the door closed, and LOCKED, he needs to run the faucet, so no one hears him peeing. Heaven forbid I leave a door open, even when trying to potty train our pups. That said, oh, really, mama’s gotta dirty butt, and mama snores? You made that bed, my friend.

Later in the night, Lucas turned to Phil, after Phil prompted, "What does mama like to do?" And Lucas replied, "Snore!" Then I piped up with, "And what does Papa like to do?" And without pause, Lucas smiled and delivered an enthusiastic, "Papa loves to POOP!!!!"

Phil took a double take, then made a face, as if he actually smelled one. "Not nice, Stephanie! Not nice at all!"

"Yes, it’s very nice, right Lucas? Pooping in the potty is grreeeeat! And Papa loves to poop!"

"Papa looooves to poop, Mama. He does, he does," Abigail agreed.

I at least made it positive, and slightly instructional. "Go on, Phil, show them." Check mate, my friend. Check mate.

A YEAR AGO: Sick Again
3 YEARS AGO: Dear Abby



  1. My sister learned not to say her favorite curse word (“M.F.”) after her autistic daughter “stimmed” on it, then repeated it over and over again a couple of nights later at a dinner party.

    Not only do little pitchers have big ears, but some of them have sampling and playback capabilities.

    You will both rue the day (Yay! I got to say “rue the day” in context) when your children repeat these things in front of other people. Then again, you probably won’t. You don’t seem to be embarrassed easily (grin).

  2. Too funny! I love Abigail’s comment too.. he does, he does. :)

    Next time you’re in FL, come over to the west coast for the beach. The Gulf is warmer and calmer although still too cold at Thanksgiving for me! Clearwater Beach has beautiful sand.

    1. Agreed! West Coast is where its at! Clearwater is nice but St. Pete and Pass-a-grille beaches are better ;)

  3. I agree, think it’s funny, and I wasn’t there. Also nice to see the playful spirit between you two :P

  4. Notice you’re still potty training. So am I. We first noticed that our daughter would hide or tell us that she just went! So we talked to her and showed her where she is supposed to go, because she’s growing. She got the idea, so we went and picked out a potty for her and things got pretty easy after that. We also picked out toilet paper for her.
    We only put on her pull ups when we’;re at home. When we go out we put her in baby diapers in case she has an accident. Pulls ups can get soaked twice as much as diapers, so don’t over use them.
    Cloth diapers also work and help teach them a lot quicker!
    GOOD LUCK! And happy new year to you, Phil, and the training beans.

  5. So you admit it. I knew there had to be a hidden agenda somewhere. *laughing*

  6. Potty training takes patience and persistence. And your good poop talk can’t hurt!

  7. I found this hilarious.. and Abigail and Lucas are too cute with the things they say!

    P.S. I’ll ask again for the few of us that asked.. Pretty please post that pecan bar recipe you have on the post below this one.. it’s killing me to look at it everytime I come to your site ;)

  8. please make more videos. I miss your he said she said videos. Come on, new year, new videos!

  9. Potty-training would be a lot easier if there wasn't a little girl trying to whack her brother's boy parts.

  10. Love your writing lately. My friends turned me on to you at book club, reading Moose. I’m now reading SU&D, you’re so good.

  11. One of my favorite memories with an old boyfriend was at Bathtub Beach. He was the one who taught me to surf then took me snorkling there when we stayed at a resort in Port St Lucie. Okay, I’m realizing this is a terrible reason to post a comment, but I was too excited that someone else has heard of that place. “Guess you had to be there,” right?

    Also, there should probably be a breathalyzer on the comment thread.

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