Let's just start off by stating the obvious:
Boys are gross.
There are many, many ways that they are gross - the smell alone is enough to remind you to keep your distance. They haven't quite worked deodorant into their daily routine yet, and handwashing is still optional.
But the place where they can really show their true colors, really let that freak flag fly, is in the bathroom. And it's not all about the fact that they cannot hit their mark when standing to pee. It's not that instead of magazines, like their fathers, they now bring their phones into the can with them to help things along. It goes beyond even that. I once watched a 12 year old boy saunter nonchalently into the bathroom at school holding a sandwich. His mother tried to stop him - but it was no use. It just never occured to him that there was anything wrong with going in there while eating. That maybe food+toilet=gross.
For years now, we have been trying to drive home the point that flushing and washing your hands after using the bathroom are a hard and fast rule. No exceptions. When the kids were first toilet trained, flushing was a novelty, and they flushed with enthusiasm. With abandon. Sometimes more than once. But somewhere along the line, once the magic was gone, they left that habit behind.
Max tries to tell us that he is saving water. I told him that drought or no drought, he has to flush the toilet when he takes a dump. Lucy just smiles blythely when asked, and says "Oh okay, I'll go flush right now." But this means that every time my kids use the toilet, I have to ask "Did you flush and wash your hands?" So if we are in public, say a restaurant, and the kids come back to the table and reach for the bread basket and I say "Hey, did you remember to flush and wash your hands?" and then there is even a moment of hesitation? I die a little inside.
But lately, the problem has grown.
Now, the neighbors are involved.
Max got braces and a mohawk last week. These two life-altering events have tripled the amount of time he spends in the bathroom. Between the Waterpic and the spray gel, he can keep busy in there for, like, an hour. He is the most enthusiastic waterpic-er I know, so much so that there is now a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels stashed in the bathroom.
Might as well get him to clean up while he's in there.
This morning, about 30 minutes before we were leaving for school, he announced he was going to the bathroom. I got nervous. He was kind of cutting it close.
So he wanders down the hall and closes the door.
A few minuts later, I was in the kitchen making lunches and I heard something. I heard singing.
Singing that was coming through the kitchen window, from outside somewhere.
How strange. I opened the back door and slowly it dawned on me......I realized what was going on. That singing was coming from an open window. The window was located in the bathroom down the hall.
Max was in the bathroom singing. Loudly. He does everything loudly, but the acoustics in this bathroom - apparently - are epic. I could hear every word.
He wasn't just singing - between the lines, he was talking to himself, cheering himself on, providing a running commentary of his performance. There was some drumming. I assume there was air guitar as well - but I can't be sure. Because I realized that if I could hear him, that meant the entire neighborhood could hear him.
I didn't want to make a big deal about it. I have suffered from bathroom shyness in the past - most notably when I was unable to poop for the entire first semester of college in the public bathroom because my mother remarked on how hard that was for some people. Another challenge arose when my boyfriend welcomed me back to bed one morning after I had used the en-suite bathroom that was floor to ceiling marble, by telling me the story of Marilyn Monroe meeting Arthur Miller's mother. The story goes that Arthur introduced the two women and after a time, Marilyn excused herself to go to the powder room.
"So, mother" Arthur asked while she was gone "what do you think? Isn't she wonderful?"
"She seems like a lovely young lady," his mother replied. "but she pees like a horse."
Thanks to that little anecdote, I spent 4 years unable to pee without having water running to drown out the noise.
So I didn't want to make him self-conscious, but on the other hand, I didn't want him to be oblivious. It was a delicate line, I didn't want to do the wrong thing. So I tried to play it cool. I am not cool. Which means I was a total dick about it.
"Max!" I shouted. "SHUSH!"
The singing stopped abruptly.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?" he shouted from the end of the hallway/my back yard.
"SHHHHHHHH!" I hissed.
I didn't hear another sound. A moment later he appeared in the kitchen, looking sheepish. "Sorry I didn't realize how loud I was." He reached for the bread to start making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.
"Dude, you are, like, the loudest person I know. And you forget - that is not a soundproof room! There are OPEN WINDOWS in there. We have neighbors. They can hear everything!"
I paused, and realized something. It had been very quiet down there. I hadn't heard a single sound since I had "shushed" him. In fact, he had gotten back here awful quic- dammit.
"Max. Did you remember to flush and wash you hands?"
He sighed, put down the knife, and walked back down the hallway.
6 hours ago