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CEDAR CITY — If peeing your pants is cool, consider Ben Sowards Miles Davis.
Sowards, a father of 11 and associate professor of illustration at Southern Utah University, has been lauded by the internet for his parenting skills because of how he handled the call that his daughter peed her pants during school last week.
It all began Friday afternoon when Sowards received a call from his wife who was out of town, saying that Valerie was upset after peeing her pants at school. Without much hesitation, Sowards splashed water on his own pants on his way to pick Valerie up and showed up to his daughter’s school to show there was nothing wrong with what happened.
“It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Sowards said, in a phone interview with KSL.com. “Your heart breaks; you feel when your kids feel. And so that was the first thing that came to my mind — just splash some water on myself and let her know it didn’t embarrass me and it didn’t need to embarrass her either, and she was fine — you have to laugh at some things.”
What he didn’t expect in that moment is what happened when Sowards' daughter Lucinda, a Canyon View High School graduate planning to enroll at SUU, posted photos online of Sowards and Valerie. Lucinda thought the post would be popular with those who knew her dad, but nothing further.
The post got retweeted and liked by one person, then another and then it wouldn’t stop. Sowards didn’t know what was happening until he heard the laughter from his children, unsure if they wanted to inform him that he was going viral.
“The girls were laughing about it,” he said. “They were like, ‘Should we tell dad? No, we shouldn’t tell dad’ — and they’re having this discussion in front of me. So of course, they’re going to tell dad. So Lucinda turns on the sound of her phone, and it sounds like we’re in a casino, just ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.”
It has since been shared more than 60,000 times and liked 250,000 times on Twitter. The tweet also got picked up by national internet news giant Buzzfeed and other outlets, featuring Sowards with his cool demeanor and soaked pants.
Valerie, the other star of the story, has enjoyed her rising fame, Lucinda said.
“Valerie is so cute — she’s taking it pretty well. She’ll go around the house and say ‘Hey, do you know that I’m famous?’ she said, chuckling. “She doesn’t even care what it’s for, she’s just excited. She thinks it’s really funny.”
But behind the laughter, there is sincerity in his action, which is where Sowards received praise on the internet — because he made his daughter feel better when she needed it.
That was the first thing that came to my mind — just splash some water on myself and let her know it didn’t embarrass me and it didn’t need to embarrass her either, and she was fine — you have to laugh at some things.
Sowards knows plenty about parenting. Both he and his wife, Connie, came from large families and wanted the same. After having seven children of their own, they recently adopted four more children after years of working in foster care.
“We felt that foster care was important that we could contribute to the lives of additional children,” Sowards said. “Of course it took buy-in from our own children — it would never happen without their support. They’ve been so generous in opening their heart and their home to our four new children. We couldn’t be happier about it.”
Sowards added that his students at SUU have been “pretty chill” about his new fame.
As for the popularity itself; “I always knew I’d be famous for something,” Sowards jokes. That drew a groan from Lucinda in the background.
“This is the most insane thing I can even think of,” he said. “I totally, of course, would never expect it.”