Lost in Suburbia classic column: O sole mio
The average person spends one hour a day in the bathroom. That’s approximately 30 hours per month, 15 days a year, or three years in a lifetime. Out of those three years, what are the likely number of days that I, a mother of young children, will have in the bathroom alone?
While the average person may take it for granted that going to the bathroom is a solo activity, this is not the case when you have kids. In the beginning, you understand that where you go, the baby goes, even when nature calls. For me, there was a span of about four years when I routinely either had a baby in a car seat, a baby in an exersaucer, a baby in a bouncy seat, or a baby on my lap when I went to the bathroom. If you have several kids pretty close together like I did, this makes for a pretty crowded bathroom. We had only one bathroom in our first house and there were times when we would have four people in there at once. Of course this wasn’t bad compared with the time the toilet broke down and we were all forced to use my daughter’s potty for two days. It certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for the miracle of indoor plumbing.
At some point the kids get big enough that you don’t actually need to take them in the bathroom with you. However, after so many years of accompanying you on this little task, they seem to think they might be missing out on something if they don’t come along. I tried in vain to convince them that honestly, “Sesame Street” is much more interesting than Mommy on the toilet, but to no avail. And so, for another four years I had children playing at my feet, children in the tub, children at the sink, and children in the hamper (don’t ask) while I went to the bathroom. I began to wonder if I would be the queen of my throne, alone, ever again.
Finally the day arrived when they seemed to lose interest in my bathroom habits. However, the issue of privacy still seemed to escape them.
“I need help with my homework,” one of them would say, barging into the bathroom.
“Could you knock, please?”
“Oh, sure.” He turned around and knocked on the inside of the door.
“Not exactly what I meant.”
Then the phone rang.
“Hello?” I heard my daughter say from the next room. She paused. “Oh sure, hold on.” She walked in the bathroom and handed me the phone. “It’s for you.”
I grudgingly accepted the receiver and quickly terminated the conversation before the person who called heard a flush on the other end.
“Sweetie, when I’m in the bathroom, please don’t bring me the phone,” I told her after I was done. “If you answer it, just tell the other person that your mom is indisposed, OK?”
Several days later the phone rang while I was in the bathroom again.
“Hello?” I heard my daughter say. She paused. “She can’t come to the phone,” she said. “She’s ‘inbisbosed’ on the toilet.”
This time I sat them down and explained in detail that adults do not like company when they are in the bathroom. They do not like to help with homework when they are in the bathroom.
They do not like to talk on the phone when they are in the bathroom. And they do not like people to know they are in the bathroom, when they are in the bathroom.
“I’m really not in there very long. Could everything just wait a few minutes until I come out?”
“Sure, Mom. No problem,” they said.
Confident I got my message across, the next day I went into the bathroom. I was quietly, blissfully alone when suddenly the door flew open.
In walked the dog.
This is a repeated Lost in Suburbia column, which has appeared in GateHouse Media newspapers since 2008. As Tracy Beckerman’s main column is shifting focus - her kids are grown and she has moved back to the city - we are rerunning her earlier work for readers who may have missed these the first time around. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tracybeckerman.