Remember those days when you had privacy? Ah, a deep nostalgic sigh probably escapes your lips as you dreamily think back to the days before kids when you could simply close the toilet door and remain there uninterrupted as long as you needed. Before we have children we, in Western cultures, have an understanding that certain things are private and boundaries are to be kept. We fancy ourselves to have a sense of decorum. Then along come the fruit of our loins and our ‘cultured’ self is rudely pushed to the side as the reality of our basic animal self comes trundling through.
Starting from the graphically physical act of childbirth, which has no equivalent in today’s Westernised culture, it continues in the unavoidable changing of nappies, being vomited, peed and pood on and having a constant variety of bodily fluids smeared on your person, clothing and furniture. They don’t care when, who and how. There is a massive shift in privacy boundaries that comes with children. The final shocker for many parents seems to be the toilet boundary violation. The last frontier.
Small children, if left to their own devices, go to the toilet together and it’s a great social activity. One sits and makes a poo while they discuss the smell, the noise, how it looks. They giggle a lot and then help each other wipe. It would make sense to them then that you would want to do the same.
No? But why on earth not, they ask incredulously?
Seriously people, did you ever think that in your adult life you would have to toilet with an audience who comments on your toilet skills?
It’s not decorum to talk about this I guess (unless you are 4 years old) but I just know it happens to many of us. There you are in a private moment, just you and the toilet. Temporary silence. The door is closed – but not locked because a while back you removed the key so your children couldn’t accidentally lock themselves in. So there you are, doing whatever it is you do in private that you don’t want others to see you doing. Suddenly you jolt with fright as the door is flung open so hard it ricochets off the wall with a loud bang. In walks your one child trailing the other behind, both of them chattering at you about something or another. Then they notice your guarded pose and caught out expression. “Hmm”, they think, “something is happening here she doesn’t want me to know about” They pay no attention to your commands and then pleas to please go out of the bathroom and leave you in private. They begin to pepper you with questions about what you are doing as they make a beeline for you. They then proceed to explore your situation with great curiosity, pawing the pants that hang around your ankles and patting your various body parts as they consider and discuss your personal habits. You better hope you were finished doing whatever it is you were doing.
Maybe it’s just my kids.
Then again, probably not.
A while ago I witnessed a very stylish older woman taking her young granddaughter to a public toilet. I could hear them in the cubicle next to me. The little girl was chattering on and asking her grandmother all sorts of questions about her toileting habits. Grandmother, it seems, was happy to chat and the two of them shared a wonderful conversation of personal preferences and fascinating intimate details of poo and wee. If I hadn’t been a parent I think I might have been startled. As it was I smiled widely to have evidence that I was not alone.
I have heard some hilarious stories. One little boy saw his dad standing at the toilet urinating. He curiously pushed his head between dad’s legs to get a better look – and stuck it right under the stream of urine. Yup, dad peed on his little boy’s head!
A pair of young brothers who have a knack for knowing just when to barge in on their cringing mom, like to watch closely as she changes her menstrual pad – and ask to have a closer look please.
A mom who slunk away quietly to the toilet (cleverly locking the door behind her) only to be followed and then have to sit on the toilet while the entire family, pets and all, stood outside the door asking her questions and essentially having a spontaneous family meeting around their captive, pant-less matriarch.
A friend of mine sent me this story after reading this section. “This brings back a vivid memory of being mom to a neonate, who was strapped kangaroo style to my front. I was on the phone to the bank and being desperate, just desperate, to wee. So I went, and sat, and yes, the door slammed open and in walked my 2-and-a-half year old whining, and just needing food NOW. He clung desperately to my ankle, the baby was now wriggling in her pouch, but I was, finally, wee-ing. “Now I have reached rock bottom”, I thought, as the banker came on the phone, accompanied by the sound of tinkle-tinkle and whine-whine. “All I need now, ” I thought, ” is for the doorbell to…” DING-DONG.”
I am sure you have stories of your own. Any you want to share?