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I Never Realized Raising Two Boys Would Be This Disgusting

When one son took to rubbing his junk on the other's pillow as a prank, this dad knew life was about to get a whole lot grosser.

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We are the proud parents of two boys. They’re 18-months apart. They’re best friends, and they’re mortal enemies. And while they’re both helpful and kind, they’re also agents of chaos. More so than anything, though, they’re both gross. The farting, the boogers, the eating food off the floor way past the five-second rule is just the tip of the iceberg. I recently found myself writing down some of their most memorably disgusting moments for the sake of posterity, and figured why not share.

We live at the beach, and no matter how diligent we are applying sunscreen, somebody always gets burned eventually. One day, my oldest “forgot” to protect his face and paid for it later that night. No worries, Dad! His solution was to put his head into the refrigerator and close the door as often as he could. While it looked ridiculous, I let it slide. What I missed, however, was the epiphany that he had while his head was stuck in a major appliance. He came into the living room with two pickle slices on his face, rubbing them around and explaining how cool they were and how they were helping his sunburn. Still unfazed by this, seconds later, I watched him eat said pickles. All he said was, “They weren’t cold anymore,” as he got up to get new slices.

Imagine if you will, two boys, 5- and 6-years-old with a colorful plastic bucket walking around the beach collecting things. Do they have shells? Sea glass? Hermit crabs? Nope, none of the above. My two are walking around filling a bucket with jellyfish. They were the harmless disc-shaped clear jellyfish, but jellyfish nonetheless. Gross enough, I thought, but then they began showing off their haul to vacationing sunbathers on the beach. And not just by letting people glance in the bucket. No, they took turns biting huge chunks off the jellyfish and spitting them back into the bucket. Because jellyfish are made of jelly, right?

Now for the “Sleep with one eye open” segment. The boys (and us) prank each other relentlessly but none quite top these two so far. Strangely, both involve the younger of the two coming out on top, but I know eventually the tides will turn. Only time will tell. In any case, our bedtime routine is often a struggle and sometimes the two boys can’t even be in the same room with each other. One night, my oldest was brushing his teeth as my youngest put on his PJs. When he was done and came into the room, my youngest dropped this bombshell on him,”You know what I do sometimes when you’re brushing your teeth, and I’m putting on jammies?” “What?” replied the older boy. “Before I put my pants on, I smoosh my weiner on your pillow because I know you like to sleep with your mouth open and move your head around in the night.” Gotcha!

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And, finally, as if couldn’t get any grosser, my wife was making a batch of cookies one day and letting the boys eat little scoops of cookie dough as a treat. My youngest son went back in for one last sample. He came back into the living room with a dollop of cookie dough on each finger. In a moment that I thought was witnessing true brotherly love, sharing, and kindness at its highest, I watched him offer his older brother one last piece of cookie dough off his finger. As he fed it to him off his finger, he ate his own off the other. It went like this.

Younger son: “Did you like it?”
Older son: “Tasted kinda weird.”
Younger son, smiling. “Know why?”
Older son. “Why?”
Younger son: “Cause it was a booger.”

Correct: My youngest fed my oldest a cookie­dough sized chunk booger farmed by himself. Game. Set. Match.

Pete Tirella, father of two boys and manager of chaos, is a middle school writing teacher from New Jersey who runs a surf school in the summer.