Thursday, May 15, 2014

All By Myself

I grew up in a medium-sizish house with two parents and two cats and four brothers.  And one bathroom.  Yes, one bathroom for all seven of us (thankfully,the cats used other facilities).  It wasn't usually a problem, except for when we were coming home from one of those long "hey let's go on a drive" outings, and we all had to go.  We would start calling dibs on the bathroom as soon as we entered the neighborhood, but all bets were off when we pulled in the driveway.  As soon as the station wagon slowed down in the driveway, the doors were flung open and children flew out and raced like mad for the bathroom.  We all knew that, dibs aside, whoever was able to slam the bathroom door shut first was the luckiest.  The rest of us would line up in the hallway, hopping or crossing our legs, and wait.  And holler at the one in the bathroom to hurry.  Hurry!

Occasionally we would have other bathroom problems.  I'm fighting the urge to use the words congestion or constipation here.  Sometimes someone would be in the bathroom for a long time.  Sometimes a really long time.  Little kids can only wait so long, you know.  If it went on too long - like more than two or three minutes - I remember pressing my ear up against to door to listen to what was going on in there.  sooner or later, I would hear evidence of my suspicions, which gave me license to tattle.  "Mom!  He's reading in there!"  Reading in the bathroom, whether it was a book or the newspaper (usually the funny pages), was strictly verboten.

When I was in junior high, oh happy day, we got a second toilet installed.  Please note that I do not mention the bathroom, just the toilet.  This is because there was no bathroom, just the toilet.  The toilet was installed where the bathroom would eventually be, and there were two walls around it made up from a bedroom wall and the cement side of the basement.  Part of the third wall was made up of a furnace, a water heater, and a washing machine.  But there was no wall between the toilet and the hallway.  And not enough of a partition to screen the toilet-sitter from anyone coming down the stairs.  This all meant that if one really, really had to go, and one were sure of a quick finish, one might be able to furtively take care of business while keeping an ear out for footfalls on the stairs.  It was risky until the rest of the walls were erected.

Now, I live comfortably in a larger-sizish house with three bathrooms.  It's nice to have more bathrooms.  One is shared by the five - oops now only four - boys living downstairs.  The upstairs bath is shared by the girl and the twins and everyone who is upstairs during the day.  The last bathroom is mine.  I mean, it's the master bath, accessible only by going through my room and then my closet.  It is used by me and the man... and anyone else who discovers that the other bathrooms are full.

The little ones use it quite often, especially now.  The twins learned that they can stand up at the toilet.  Fortunately (seriously!) they have pretty accurate aim.  They have also learned that they can take care of business at the same time.  Wonders!  Again, good aim.  They don't even play games like crossing swords when they are in there.  I'm glad.  But we did have to draw the line recently when Georgie decided to share toilet time with Angel, who was sitting properly as a girl should.  He thought that if he could go tandem with Freddie, then sharing with Angel would also be no problem.  Not so.  She ended up soaked up and down, and madder than a wet hen.  Not that I've ever seen any of our wet hens mad, but that's beside the point.

Now I tell the little people that there are some things we should do alone.  When anyone sits on the toilet, they are now perfectly capable of doing it solo.  I remind the twins on a regular basis that she can "do this all by herself."  And when she tries to poke her head in on one of the twins in the bathroom, she hears, "He can do this all by himself."  I say it often enough I've adopted it for myself.

When Mother Nature comes a-calling and I dash into my bathroom, I can be assured of having seven seconds or less of peace.  Then, for some reason, everyone needs me.  "Mom!"  "Mom!"  "He hit me!"  "I need..."  "I'm bleeding!"  "What's for dinner?"  "Where are you?!?"  Not even the bigger kids are immune from the change in the air that evidently happens when Mother goes into the bathroom.  And due to the through-the-bedroom-and-through-the-closet location of my bathroom, they can't hear me respond to their requests very well.  When the little ones do locate me, they often try to join me in the bathroom.  No, thank you.

So I've taken to issuing a standard response.  "I'm in the bathroom and I can do this all by myself!"  And then they will have to wait... while I scroll through my facebook or read a newspaper article.  Fortunately, the electronic reading material doesn't rustle when I turn pages.

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