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Foster-to-Adopt southern Utah father explains the reason he pretended to pee his pants

Foster-to-Adopt southern Utah father explains the reason he pretended to pee his pants. (Photo: Lucinda Sowards)

(KUTV) When was the last time you pretended to pee your pants to cheer someone else up?

Some may think it was a tactic pulled straight from the 1995 film "Billy Madison," but a southern Utah father says splashing water on his pants was the first thing that came to mind to help his embarrassed child feel better — as odd as that may sound.

Ben Sowards of Enoch found out his 6-year-old daughter was in tears after having an accident in her Kindergarten class and needed to be picked up. So he jumped into action.

“You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants,” according to Adam Sandler’s character in the movie “Billy Madison” where Sandler sees a fellow student who wet himself and decides to get his pants wet too in order to put the other student at ease and own the embarrassing situation.

In Ben Sowards’ case, he wasn’t at school. The artist, author and Southern Utah University professor got a call from his wife who said his daughter, Valerie, was in tears and wanted to be picked up from Kindergarten after having an accident.

Sowards told his wife that maybe he should splash water on himself and go pick his daughter up. She didn’t think he would do it. But without skipping a beat, Sowards doused his trousers and drove to pick up his daughter in distress.

He figured he had to do something that spoke to her and would make her laugh.

“I would probably not try the same strategy with any of my teenagers,” he said.

He knew his daughter would recognize the genuine care or authenticity of his silly gesture.

“It’s a metaphor for a deeper feeling and people relate to it.”

So Sowards put his pride on the side and made a metaphor.

“I walked into the office and walked over to Valerie and could see she was looking down at the ground,” Sowards told KUTV in a phone interview. “I asked her if I could borrow her backpack.”

He used her backpack to cover himself up while his daughter used her jacket to cover herself up.

“Then we strolled out of the office like we had gotten away with something.”

Going viral

Sowards oldest daughter, Lucinda, 17, said her little sister came home laughing instead of in tears. She took a picture of his dad and posted it on Twitter because she figured her friends and those who knew her dad would get a kick out of it.

She began to see responses from people she knew, then before long she began to get all sorts of positive feedback from strangers.

The story was quickly shared on Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, NowThis and several other media outlets around the country.

“I knew that my dad was amazing,” Lucinda said. “I was happy that he could get this recognition, because he deserves it.”

The deeper meaning

Ben says he could care less about 15 minutes of fame he has received. Instead, he hopes the thing people discuss is the importance of families, the role of parents in creating good communities. He would know about the importance of strengthening families. Four of his children have come from foster care. His large family is made up of 11 children with 8 of them under the age of 10.

He hopes the reason people have reacted to the story is because they relate to what anyone is willing to do if they love their children first.

It’s been a busy last few days for the Sowards family with news interviews, but the best day had nothing to do with a story about wet pants.

On Monday, the Sowards family gained four new family members who were officially adopted after being in their care as foster children.

“We were just overjoyed,” Ben told KUTV of the adoption. “That’s the biggest thing that has happened to me this week, bigger than this (wet pants story).”

Lucinda said her dad has always taught her that as a family you are always on a team. Everyone wears the same jersey. If one person has a victory or defeat – the whole family shares that.

“That’s helped me grow up as a big sister and find out what motivates my dad,” she said.

Foster care helps families

She hopes the temporary publicity gives her a chance to advocate for foster care and how it blesses the lives of everyone.

“Foster care is not a fairy tale,” Lucinda said, but added that watching her siblings grow and become a part of her family on Monday was “extremely gratifying.”

She experienced the growth and positive effect foster care has had on her family members.

“These kids were finally going to have a safe and happy place to go home to,” she said.

The experience seeing them grow and my family grow. Foster care is something that needs to be done.

“I automatically fell in love with them,” she said of the feeling when the adoption was finalized. “It was almost like a little switch (was turned). I was overjoyed to make them a part of my permanent family.”

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