My son’s been in the bathroom for a very long time.

I thought there was a problem.  Nothing’s wrong except the iPad has a full charge.

In the olden days, we took real books into the bathroom–honest to goodness literature.  Dickens is plenty long enough to get a kid out of drying dishes.

These days with iPad and phones, bathroom goldbricking has no limits.

“I have to use the bathroom,” I say.

“I’m using it.” He doesn’t budge.

The loo’s sacred space–people deserve privacy–so I leave.

“Hurry up,” I tell him.

I don’t really have to go to the bathroom.  My mom taught me always to go “just in case,” so I’m well ahead of the curve–this training comes in handy working at a school where I don’t get to go to the bathroom when I need to, only when the bell gives me permission.

I’m annoyed the boy’s staking claim to the room at eight years old.  This behavior isn’t acceptable until mid teen years at the earliest.  Declan’s too young to learn the secret that personal words like “IBS,” “constipation,” and “diarrhea”  can  get you days off from work without question.  That’s too much power at eight.

Another half hour’s passed.   He’s still in there.   I’m used to removing people from bathroom stalls at school.  The lav’s where girls go to read their email, talk on the phone, and conduct important business meetings.

I use the People’s Bathroom, not the Faculty Throne, so when it gets crowded I start a conversation with the group near the sink.  That gives the stall hoggers the idea they should get to class.  Then, it’s my turn.

Works every time.

Declan’s playing a game stuck in French mode.  I don’t help him–learning foreign languages is good.  If he ever has to fight a Frenchman with a dragon, he’ll know exactly what to say.

Did I mention we’re a one bathroom family?  I kinda have to pee now…

“Get out of there!” I say.  “This is ridiculous!”  His dragon’s got a lot of points and he’s learning new words.  He can’t come out just yet.

“Je ne suis pas prêt , maman!” he says.

I leave him alone again.  I turn off the tea water just in case he’s not planning on coming out soon.  I shouldn’t drink a lot of liquids.  It’s the strategy we use in schools too.  Dehydrate–then you can hold out till the bell.

According to the World Toilet Day site, 2.9 billion people in the world don’t have access to an adequate bathroom or sanitation, and 1 billion are without toilets for real.

I often say “You haven’t known fear till you’ve lived in a one-bathroom home with a toilet that clogs or a kid that hogs.”

I’ve been through both.  Still, I’m blessed beyond 1/7th of the world’s imagination even complaining about one bathroom.

The boy makes his exit.   He’s finished learning French, but I don’t want to switch the game to Arabic or Mandarin until I’ve had my turn in the sacred room.

I put the tea water back on and head toward the bathroom right away…

…only to find it’s already occupied by the next user.




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