by Tara Magdalinski
I’ve never understood men.
Okay, I might need to qualify that and add that I’ve never understood men’s predilection for hanging out in the loo. Water closet, dunny, bathroom, bog – whatever you want to call it, for me it’s always been a functional place where one goes, does and leaves. Neither a contemplative space nor a moment to catch up on light reading, the loo has held no particular appeal as a personal refuge from the harsh reality of life. What do they DO in there, I would wonder as variously my dad/boyfriend/ husband would announce that they’re “off to the loo” with the oft unspoken, “and I may be some time” trailing after them.
That was, of course, until I had a child. It was at that moment that I understood the sweet, sweet siren call of that little cubicle. It became the only space where I could escape the reality and responsibility of the perfect human entrusted to me. A casual “I’m off to the loo” meant that for a brief moment, I was alone – and let’s face it, with an infant in the house, achieving the holy grail of a daily shower is a major personal triumph, so a few minutes alone in the loo are like gold. But before long, my leaking boobs would signal that I was needed on the other side of that door, reminding me that I would, effectively, never be alone again.
And so I enjoyed my occasional moments of solitude in the bathroom but, like all good things, this was soon to pass. As soon as a child learns to move, she or he is drawn if by an invisible force towards the loo, a sort of personal pilgrimage, driven by the knowledge that Mummy’s solitude should and must come crashing down.
No longer was I able to ablute in peace as it became the latest spectator sport in town. Now, I will confess that as bad as peeing with an audience is, it remains preferable to peeing without an audience for it is that most vulnerable of moments, knickers around your knees, mid-flow, as it were, that an inquisitive toddler will seek to wreak as much destruction as is earthly possible for a two year old in a thirty-second dash.
I thought that being asked for a drink, snack, cuddle, breastfeed or any of a dozen other requests that can only be tabled the moment I am perched on the porcelain was the most irritating aspect of my son’s fascination with my lavatorial experience. Little did I know that the worst moment of sharing this most sacred of spaces was to come. You see, a few weeks ago I had to…. how shall I put this delicately…. attend to my feminine hygiene needs with an audience of one.
No manner of coaxing, cajoling, begging, threatening or even outright bribery could convince the child to leave the loo. So, I found myself trying to exchange one item for another with a very curious onlooker.
The actual act was not as problematic as I thought it might be, however, the toddler was so confused to see that which was in my hand no longer there that he had to have a good look for himself. A small hand clamped down on each of my knees and proceeded, before I knew it, to wrench them apart in order to gain a much better view of the proceedings.
Amazed, he stood up, raised an arm to either side of his body and utter the immortal words, “All gone!” Terrified I might have scarred him for life, ruined every future relationship with women or introduced him far too early to the mysteries of the female anatomy, I could only console myself with the fact that he’s too young to have a permanent memory of the event, that is, until I tell it at his 21st birthday party!