The Warning on the Door

Y’know what? It’s been a while since we’ve had a cute kid story on the blog here. I think we’re overdue.

So a while back we were having a little party at our house. And my oldest boy Oot….

You guys do know Oot, right? It’s been a while since I talked about him here. He’s the older of my two little boys.

(Here he is winning a game of Tak.)

Oot is 7 years old now, if you can believe it. He is my heart’s delight. And despite my failings, he has grown up sweet and kind and loving and full of empathy.

So. A couple months ago, we were having a little shindig at our house. Except this wasn’t an event of the sort that I would organize, not a couple people coming over for games. Sarah’s family is huge, and there are roughly eleven billionty children in it. So this isn’t a cozy little gathering. It’s going to be an event. It’s going to be a happening.

The complication? We have a relatively small house. Only about 1400 square feet, and one of the two bathrooms is only accessible through a bedroom.

And here’s the thing. It’s *my* bedroom. Which means it a fucking mess. I’ve got piles of books and detritus everywhere. You can’t hardly see the floor. Plus I have a lot of stuff on my shelves is  dangerous at best, and at worst just straight-up deadly. Picture it as a more cramped version of a wizard’s lab, except instead of having a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling, there’s a mattress on the floor.

Simply said: I do not want people wandering through my bedroom. For real. I’ve mentioned this many, many times to Sarah when she has family over.

So. Anyway. We’re getting ready for the party, and I come back from an errand to discover Oot has written up some helpful signs and stuck them to my door.

20161211_124915(Click to Embiggen. Seriselee.)

Please, *please* click the above image and try to puzzle out what it says on your own. Oot has my genes both for penmanship and spelling, but if you click on it, you should be able to make it out with a little work. And it’s *so* much better if you read it in the original.

For those of you who can’t quite make it out, the signs say:

“Do. not. Entre.”

“i. Will. Kil. You. if. You. Trn.”

“This. Nob. (Arrow pointing to doorknob.)”

“Seriselee. Stae. The. Fukc. Out.”

Now when I see this, I am absolutely fucking delighted. I am over the moon. I could not possibly enjoy it more.

First and foremost, this is a very thoughtful thing he’s done. I ask Sarah if she put him up to it, and she said she hasn’t. All on his own, my little boy has decided to help me keep my room private because he knows it bothers me when guests wander in there. He’s heard me talk about it, and he’s trying to help.

As for the rest…. well… I’m probably reading it a little differently than you, because I know more of the backstory. (It might surprise none of you to know that I consider backstory to be pretty important.)

You see, years ago, when I discovered that here in small town Wisconsin, a mortgage is actually cheaper than renting an office. So I bought a grotty old student rental house to use as a disturbance-free writing space.

In that house, I have a writing room which nobody is allowed to enter. Because it’s my fucking writing room.

But I also use the house as a guest house where friends can stay when they’re in town. And my friends are curious people. So years and years ago I put up some signs on the door:


Oot comes to visit me at the Workhouse sometimes. And I put these signs up *years* ago. Long before he could read.

But the world keeps spinning. And things change. And our children absorb so much more than we are ever ready for. And no matter how careful we are, we are never careful enough….

So I come home from my errand to see my sweet child has carefully labeled my door. I read these signs and I laugh. And I thank Oot for being so helpful and considerate. And I tell him that I am really impressed that he has done such a good job of writing everything out. And it’s true. I am impressed.

“But I’m wondering,” I say. “We’re inviting these people over to our house for a party. Do you think it might be a little rude to threaten to kill them?” (I’m going to leave the discussion of the word ‘fuck’ for another day.)

Oot looks thoughtful, he narrows his eyes a little and nods. “You’re right,” he says, as if he’s really kind of impressed that I’d figured that out. “I’ll make a new sign.”

So I wander away, happy that I’ve so deftly fixed the problem.

Ten minutes later, I come back to see this:

I would like to point out that I’ve never heard Oot say, “Fuck.” But obviously the sign at the workhouse has made a deep and lasting impression. It occurs to me that in his mind, this might actually just be the natural way you ask people to stay out of a room. This is just a regular warning sign: “Wet Paint.” “Do not park.” “Stay the fuck out.”

So we talk again. And I tell him that he’s done a good job by getting rid of threatening to kill people… “But it’s still not really *polite* yet, is it?”

So he takes another run at it:

And these notes are still on my door to this day. I cannot think of a reason I would ever want to take them down….

I hope y’all are doing okay out there.

Take care of each other,


This entry was posted in babies, Because I Love, day in the life, I am completely fucking serious, Oot, Things my baby has taught me about writing. By Pat64 Responses


  1. mossifer
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

    what a magnificently thoughtful human Oot is

  2. cynrtst
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

    My house is mesee too but if it was a choice of changing that and not having people over, no one would ever be allowed in.
    I remember the first Oot story I ever heard you tell in person. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since he was born. It’s the “Oot pretends to nurse from Daddy’s breast” story. When you told it, I could just see his sly little smile and shake his head no with his lips ready to eat. You tell the best stories, Pat. Don’t ever stop.

    • Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

      I wonder if anyone out there has a recording of me doing that story. I used to tell it all the time, but I haven’t told it in so long. I don’t know how well I remember it….

      • cynrtst
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

        You asked us not to record you, Pat!!

        • Posted April 10, 2017 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

          Yeah. I know. It’s the smart choice, but I occasionally regret it….

  3. cageo
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

    Seven! How!?
    Oot stories are my favourite, and this is one of y favourite yet. Oh gorgeous innocent boy ❤

  4. Cerune
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

    It makes me so happy when ever I see parents that understand that children are people to, and that trying to force them into doing what’s right isn’t the best way. I love it when parents instead decide to foster a good relationship with their children and give them advice, hoping they will take it. That’s what parenting should be like in my eyes.

  5. justajenjen
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:56 AM | Permalink

    That is amazing. Funny how much kids soak up, isn’t it? Such a beautiful little boy who’s obviously very observant of the world around him. My kid is the same age and every day it’s a toss up if I want to laugh or strangle him for being just like me. Him and Oot met once, actually.

  6. tafyoder
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:04 AM | Permalink

    Pat, thanks for a bright story on a grumpy day. You are a really good human, and there are so many of us who are hugely grateful that you share your stories and gifts with the world.

  7. Avarweth
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    Pat, this post seriously made my day. I think it made my week. Give Oot an extra hug and just tell him “thank you” for being such an awesome kid.

  8. Oldemajicks
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    “And despite my failings, he has grown up sweet and kind and loving and full of empathy.”

    Just like your books. Despite your (self-perceived) failings, each of your books (released or not) ends up wonderful and engaging; partly from what you put into it and partly from what we make it when we read them. Ships, children and books right themselves so long as they don’t have any glaring holes in them. Hopefully when we bring your books back to you as fan art or personal stories or praise you are just as surprised and delighted with them as you are when your wonderful boy does something on his own.

  9. Kimberlyand
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    Ahahhaha that was amazing. Thanks for sharing :)

  10. specialagentkatie
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    We were most definitely overdue. This is gold!

  11. carms
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:21 AM | Permalink

    Everything about this story delights me. I am delighted.

  12. Kthaeh
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:35 AM | Permalink

    Tiny gods! I am totally content with my (now irrevocable) decision not to have kids. And I realize that you guys basically won the progeny lottery. But if lottery outcomes like yours were more the norm, I might seriously have opted to reproduce. This is utterly delightful. And if this much delight is outside the norm and only things of this caliber make it into a blog post, I don’t really need to know that.

    We were indeed overdue for an Oot update. And Ootdate? I dunno. But thanks, and keep them coming (however irregularly), please.

  13. iansr
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    The fact that your kid has gotten so old reminds me that I’ve been following you for a while :-) I still remember when you first explained that he is oot.

  14. jasperflint
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Please find a way of getting this story somewhere in the doors of stone! That would make me laugh for a week.

    It’s a really sweet story. :)

    • jasperflint
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

      And the four plate door had many locks, the first of which was a politely written note. ‘there is some messee shit behind this door. Stay the fuck out” and then below. “seriselee”

      • ReadR4Life
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

        Lol. I love that.

  15. MommaAng
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    I love kid stories, having 4 girls most of my stories are just that. Oot is magnificent, I can’t wait until he gets Twitter and wows the world with his charm and wit. Ha!

  16. Hexqueen5
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    Egads, how can Oot be seven already? I’m super jealous of his long, flowing locks.

  17. Jsherry
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    Laughed myself to tears.

    Thanks for sharing. Has there ever been a world in more need of stories?

  18. celtictrek
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    My 7-yr old grandson randomly posts Nuka-Cola signs around my house. 7 year old boys are very helpful!

  19. Chele
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    I love that you call the place you write the workhouse.

    • Posted April 11, 2017 at 6:12 AM | Permalink

      It’s very Victorian, isn’t it?

  20. grat
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 4:02 PM | Permalink


  21. Gaius Maximus
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    Pat, did you post this somewhere before? I know I read it somewhere because I knew what was coming before I got to it. Did I slip into a parallel universe?

    • Josh Dowen
      Posted May 10, 2017 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

      Goodreads and Amazon both have his blog as part of their ‘updates from the author’ facilities, so maybe that was it.

  22. DamGurth
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    There is an acronym here, right?
    I’m sure there is *something* more, waiting and hiding while laughing.
    I know you, Patrick, and I’m sure about it. Or, at least, I’m sure that there are going to be people like me looking for nonexistent secret stuff.
    And I know you know it. And we lovingly hate you for it.

    Yours Sincerely:
    A disperated reader.

  23. Travis Centers
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    What a really funny and an amazing story. I have never raised a kid that was younger than thirteen. I will tell you something that I did to help my father. I heard my father say, “I wish someone would let him know how much of a tightwad a-hole that he is.” That year at the Family Thanksgiving table, I let my Grandfather on my mother’s side know that my dad, wanted him to know how much of a tightwad a-hole he is. Some faces turned red, some green, and everyone laughed it off.

  24. decat13
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Is it a little unsettling to anyone that this young man is using this language?

    • hankteford
      Posted April 12, 2017 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

      Not really? I don’t really run with the “for propriety’s sake, Mildred” crowd, but most of the people I know just use cursing as a language intensifier, and there’s nothing inherently bad about “bad words”. “Stay the fuck out” is a concise way of saying “Stay out, I genuinely mean it, I do not want you coming in here.”

      I can be perfectly polite and cut someone to the bone if I want to hurt them with words, and I can use “you asshole” as a term of endearment. At least personally, I’m much more concerned about intent than I am about which words someone uses.

      • decat13
        Posted April 12, 2017 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

        Really, I mean beyond the profanity, which is inappropriate, the violent nature seems to be an improper at best way for a young boy to convey his intentions. Being able to intimate a request with respect and assertiveness seems like the ideal state. In context, profanity can be effective and righteous violence has its uses but it doesn’t seem to be the case here. I’m not there, I’m just reading a blog so it’s feasible to assume that I’m reading it wrong or just don’t have the proper context to encompass the story but it doesn’t seem appropriate to me. Not in some haughty taughty, conform to high faluting societal norms kinda way. More in the way that if we are to teach the next generation to lead then we need to understand that they have to be better than their peers and find a way to inspire without resorting to profanity and threats kinda way

        • Posted April 12, 2017 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

          Honest question: Is English your first language?

          Follow-up: Do you have children?

          • decat13
            Posted April 13, 2017 at 5:25 AM | Permalink

            English is my first and only language. Is there a disconnect with something I wrote? I’m not a great grammar guy. I do have children. They are of similar age. Why do you ask?

          • decat13
            Posted April 13, 2017 at 5:56 AM | Permalink

            Sorry if I’m reading to much into the ” do you have children”question but I wanted to be clear. I’m not trying to make disparaging comments on your parenting. I don’t know you or your children beyond what you choose to share here and on your handle. In reading the post it sounds like you dealt with the situation in a reasonable manner. I made the original post because as I was reading the comments there seemed to be a whole lotta boot licking and such with a bunch of smiles, exclamation points and the word heartwarming appearing a whole bunch. I didn’t read it that way I guess, I was worried about the outcome and the boys disposition. Maybe i just read it as a delicate matter and had more angst about it than others.

      • decat13
        Posted April 12, 2017 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

        “Stay the fuck out” is not a concise way of saying anything. It is a threatening way of saying something. “Seriously or I will kill you” is an overt threat. These aren’t affectations, these are deliberate phrases meant to intimidate. If you read these things and didn’t know a boy wrote them how would you honestly react? Me personally, I would have less respect for the person who wrote them for thinking I couldn’t respect their wishes if presented to me in a decent manner. And if they are there for those who can’t respect a persons wishes without threats and beligerentcy then maybe you shouldn’t have those people around to begin with.

        • Karissima
          Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

          He is imitating the sign on the office door. “Seriously stay the fuck out”. Children are imitative creatures. Similarly, they hear the threat “I will kill you if you do that” in media. Since he’s of school age, he likely hears it from other children quite frequently without understanding the consequences of such action.
          The guests in question are other children, cousins and such, who are not likely deliberately belligerent but merely curious about a closed door. Oot is trying to circumvent potential problems by putting up the signs.
          Perhaps you did not read the entire post, because all of this information was included above.

          • decat13
            Posted April 13, 2017 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

            I apologize, that post was in reply to the first gentlemen who commented on the original thread and I didn’t place it as such. I understand how kids can hear and imitate things and I read the post. I wasn’t trying to be insulting or degenerative of the content and I can see the resolution. I’m not aware of who was there and again I don’t know the complete context of the situation. I was just trying to convey why the language was distressing to me in response to the first comment on the original post.

        • hankteford
          Posted April 13, 2017 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

          I don’t associate any particular menace or threat to “stay the fuck out”, but again, I and most of the people I know tend to view cursing as a language intensifier rather than carrying any inherent emotional weight. I also don’t have any particular value judgement on expressions of profanity being “better” or “worse” than a “clean” version – most of my friends are highly-educated, successful professionals who eloquently express themselves and liberally make use of profanity as they do so. Similarly, the perceived threat of “seriously or I will kill you” is entirely dependent upon intent, personally. From a seven-year-old boy? Not a problem unless he has demonstrated serious psychological problems or violent behavior. Intent matters.

          Based on what I read in the post, it sounds like Pat wasn’t terribly concerned about his son using that language because he understood Oot’s intentions, but did gently correct him to a more “traditionally polite” standard. Not being personally familiar with Pat and his family, I wouldn’t presume that I can judge from a single anecdote, or even from all of the collected anecdotes thus far.

          All of that said, your experience seems to be different from mine. I (naturally) think that my own experience is normal and correct, and I’m sure you feel the same. That doesn’t mean that either of us is correct. What it does mean is that other people can have a different experience than me, and so long as they’re okay with it, I’m probably not justified in telling them that they’re doing life wrong.

  25. akemi
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Every story about your children is so heartwarming. And how deeply you love them saturates every word. <3

  26. Occamslaser
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    That is such a wonderfull series of events. As a childless 24 year old, someone to whom successfully parenting is somewhat like witchcraft, I think it’s pretty special that you (and he) navigated that situation without stepping on his desire to create and edit his work.

    This was my face by the end

  27. glennchuck
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

    Kid’s got chops. Watch your back, Mr. Dad Man.

  28. Mr Kmart
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Shaming curse words I feel only makes one wish to do it more. Side note, I am jealous of that Tak board, almost as good as the one on Worldbuilders this past go.

    • Posted April 12, 2017 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

      It’s the board and pieces from the basic game, actually….

  29. hankteford
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    I find his misspelling rather fascinating, it’s both “mostly logical from a phonetic standpoint” and oddly reminiscent of Old English at the same time, with the “stae” and “entre”.

  30. suprst4r
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    This is adorable. Is Oot his real name? If so, where’d it come from?

  31. Manwue
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    I live in Scotland, and I find that the wee kid’s signs are grammatically correct, perfectly readable and the spelling is accurate. Pat’s signs on the other hand seem to be written in some weird english dialect.

  32. bb
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    I love this story a million times over. It has everything about parenting all rolled up into one neat instant. Back story is critical to parenting as it is to everything. Enjoy your Oot. Mine is 11 now, and it happens in an instant. I dread each birthday, but it turns out they just get more interesting and wonderful.

  33. Dominic
    Posted April 15, 2017 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    This is a very cute story, and I enjoyed it; with all that, I was initially incredibly excited because I thought it was an announcement about “The Doors of Stone”.

    Sometimes I feel like Anne Shirley, so I guess I owe you a thanks, Pat, for that few moments of excitement while the page was loading.

  34. decat13
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Intent is important. Results and consequences are more so. I’m tired of this. I regret saying anything. It’s great if you find happiness in this post. I don’t. Alls well that ends well and it seems this did. Happy Easter everyone.

  35. Arydis
    Posted April 19, 2017 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    I now want Elodin to put this on the four plate door.

  36. LD50
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    I love the lonely THIS.NOB sign in the last picture.

    Regarding the swearing, I had my own epiphany (?) once when my two year old was trying to fix her music toy (what are they called, soft toy, you pull its tail and the clockwork thingy inside plays a nursery rhyme tune?).

    Anyway, it used to get stuck. I’d “fix” it by giving it a quick whack. At the time I was slightly stressed and it appears I must have used bad language when driving the twins to crèche (before work).

    So there she was, standing in her cot, bashing the poor giraffe against the rail intoning the magic (but mysterious) words, “fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it!”

    Needless to say, they are exceptionally well-behaved, polite and considerate teenagers now.

    • James
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

      This reminds me of a similar experience. My fiance used to nanny for a family friend, who was starting her medical residence as a single mom. The details don’t really matter, but between the ages of 0-5, we were with this little girl a lot, and she accompanied us on most of our activities with our adult friends.

      One of these activities was a weekend trip to a cottage on a lake, when she was three or four years old. One of our friends, who was less experienced with how sponge like children can be, expressed quite emphatically how cold the water was after he had jumped in.

      No one thought anything of it, til a few days later when we got a phone call from the girl’s mother, asking us why, after being placed in her bath, the child had expressed “Mommy, the water is fucking cold.”

      She is now almost seven, and we still laugh about the story. We are all very careful about our language use, especially seeing as some of our friends now have little ones of their own, and she is a very polite child who still joins us on the occasional activity.

  37. jtg.1983
    Posted June 2, 2017 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    Yeah…I’m not a stuffy and or reserved person by any means, and am known to pass my days doing various types of ill shit (tragically often in an office), BUT, put me firmly in the “wait, the young child who is just learning to write and spell is fluent with using the word ‘Fuck’ in a sentence??” camp.

  38. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

  39. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

  40. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

  41. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

  42. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

  43. bobbybee
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

  44. bobbybee
    Posted June 9, 2017 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

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