It’s Not All Mary Poppins

More candid that I planned

It has been years since I have had the luxury of a private daytime pee. Years. Many years. Years which, if I’m totally honest, can be measured in decades.

(No, I don’t feel old. I doubt I will when I get into my fifties, not far off now. And those of you twenty- and thirty-somethings who grouse about feeling OOOOLD just because some ephemeral fashion fad you loved is now twenty minutes in the past? You just make yourself look silly. And young. Very young.)

But still. It has been a couple of decades since I have been able to shut the door during working hours and concentrate on the task at hand. Nope. I pee with the door ajar, an ear cocked for mayhem, I race down the stairs zipping my fly, and I wash hands at the kitchen sink. Because GOD ONLY KNOWS what could break out in the 86 seconds I’m up there.

I’m sure this sounds familiar to all parents of toddlers. Now imagine doing that every working day for OVER TWENTY YEARS.

It becomes so ingrained that, even though I do shut the door in the evenings (something which causes my teenagers great joy), I still zip and tuck on my way down the stairs, and I still wash my hands in the kitchen. Habits die hard.

We are just back from an outing. The children have been charged with taking off their shoes, getting their slippers out of the basket where they are stored, and sitting on the couch. That should give me the requisite 86 seconds.

“Mary? Mary, I can’t find my nuther slipper!” Noah’s voice rockets skyward.

“I can’t help you right now. Did you look in the basket?”

“Yes, and I can’t find it!”

“Well, hang on a sec. I’ll help you as soon as I can.”

“It’s okay, Mary, I found it!” Emily’s voice is triumphant.

“Oh, good for you! Noah, did you say thank you to Emily?”


Noah, you need to say thank you to Emily.”

The voice that answers is neither Emily’s nor Noah’s. It is not a toddler’s voice at all.

“Thank yoooou, Em-i-leeee!” An adult voice sing-songs up the stairs. An adult voice parodying an obedient child. An adult, male voice. Not my husband, home early from work, nor my son, dropping by unexpectedly. Nope. A neighbour, one of the select few who isn’t required to knock before entering.

I zip and tuck before leaving the bathroom, and as I come downstairs to see why he’s here, I am wondering…

did I have an auditory audience for every little thing during my 86 seconds?


April 16, 2010 - Posted by | eeewww, health and safety, potty tales


  1. 🙂

    Comment by Mwa | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. And those of you twenty- and thirty-somethings who grouse about feeling OOOOLD just because some ephemeral fashion fad you loved is now twenty minutes in the past? You just make yourself look silly. And young. Very young.

    You tell ’em!

    And your choice of photograph for this post cracked me up 🙂

    Why, thank you. I thought it added a little je ne sais quoi…

    And yes, all these pert and perky only-just-not-children-anymore complaining of being old. It gets… old… pretty quickly, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Sylvia | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  3. That story reminds of a time just recently when my sister-in-law walked in on me in the bathroom (of my in-laws) because the door wasn’t closed and latched. She was truly mortified, but as you said, old habits die hard.

    I also often zip up exiting the bathroom and ALWAYS wash in the kitchen. 🙂

    Oops! Our bathroom is set up such that the toilet is not visible from the door. The most a suprise visitor will see is one’s knees. Less mortification that way. 😀

    Comment by Marci | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. Well, at least he let you know he was there, so you weren’t zipping and tucking as you found him there…

    True. Though I doubt he’d have minded. 😉

    Even though my kids are teen and tween, they still always need me when I’m in the bathroom and I find I’m often doing the zip and tuck as I come out to answer questions/find things/etc. I have to stop and think if there is a kid’s friend over.

    Perhaps because mine are older teen, and two twenties, it’s been many a year since I’ve been disturbed by them while in the toilet. Of course, my response to them when they did do it was generally annoyance and a marked lack of cooperation, so I probably trained them out of it…

    Comment by Katherine | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  5. I’m finding that my feeling of “old” comes more from Jeffrey telling me that I was around with the dinosaurs. (This he says the day before my birthday and the day after announcing that I was not as pretty as trains, hrmph.)

    A pre-schooler’s sense of time is notoriously unreliable. I wouldn’t be taking it to heart… (Nor their evaluations of feminine beauty, evidently.)

    Comment by Dani | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  6. Count me in with the group that walks and zips. I am looking forward to the day where I wont feel compelled to pick up the bathroom area while I’m “using” my 87 seconds.

    Comment by Kathy | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  7. I can’t figure out the mystical pull of the bathroom. A toddler will be happily engaged elsewhere, other adults available to interact with, but the second I go in there and shut the door it is of VITAL IMPORTANCE to be in there with me, now now now now now.

    What is that? It doesn’t happen much with me, possibly because they have each other to interact with. I hurry because ‘interact’ can too often mean ‘poke, prod, provoke, and pester’, or ‘co-operate in mayhem’.

    Comment by Helen Huntingdon | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  8. I generally don’t have to rush that much because mine seem to like to come WITH ME to the bathroom, despite my protestations that really, they don’t have to, I can manage JUST FINE on my own! and if it’s not the kids, it’s the cat. Which means in the evenings, when they are all abed, I purposely spend a few extra minutes enjoying my bathroom time alone – with a sudoku or two.

    (And I’m feeling old because I’m TIRED and starting to see the effects of gravity and grey hair and wrinkles starting – and not liking the results. Fashion? I don’t want to dress like a teenager, anyhow. I’m hoping that when full nights of sleep return soon, I’ll feel younger again!)

    Ah, now you have my whole-hearted agreement. The seemingly never-ending grinding weariness of chronic sleep deprivation does indeed make you feel OOOOLD. And you’re right: as soon as you get some reliable sleep, it will pass!

    You know? My grey hair (skilfully dyed by the wonderful Christine) doesn’t make me feel old, nor my wrinkles. From time to time something in the mirror does startle me, but mostly I still feel healthy, fit and decently youthful… for my age! 😀

    Comment by kittenpie | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  9. In the defense of 20-somethings (which I am), when we say “old,” we don’t really mean OLD old. We are certainly well aware that 23 is not OLD. It’s just incredibly shocking to find yourself increasingly in adulthood– not childhood, not adolescence. Or least, that’s what my friends and I mean when we talk about being “old.”

    Mmhmm. I understand the adjustment you’re experiencing as you realize you really are an adult, after all. You don’t wake up one morning — zap! — all grown up. You grow into it. I get that. Still, from the perspective of someone who is quite accustomed to (and secure in) their adulthood, someone who may even have a few wrinkles and a well-groomed grey hair or two (not to mention a child or two older than 23), to hear a 23-year-old say they’re feeling old… well …”silly” really is the word that springs to mind.

    Comment by blythe | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  10. Baha, was this, perchance, the same neighbour who likes to come home from work and walk around in his bike shorts, strutting his stuff for the ladies?

    Could be. He’s trustworthy and he’s a good friend… but it is true that his sartorial decisions are not always 100% sound…

    Comment by secretlysarah | April 18, 2010 | Reply

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