Not sure what goes on in other people’s houses but I am left thinking that indoor plumbing (although I profoundly appreciate it myself) is a concept completely wasted on the teenage crowd.
Generally speaking the little kids (ages 12 and under) tend to use the bathroom for what it is intended for (within reason). You know a quick race in when nature calls (hopefully the younger crowd make it in time) a quick turn of the tap with some attempt at the soap and race back out to what they were doing before. Perhaps an entire two minutes devoted to the more basic functions in life (and hopefully not a scene from “Daddy Daycare” where Eddy Murphy rolls his eyes all around the bathroom ceiling after one of his little charges says “I missed”).
This stage is however counter-balanced by having to drag the same child hours later into a bath. Somehow bathing is a waste of time and the kids (especially boys) would just rather spent the time playing anywhere than the bathtub.
For years it seems that you are coaxing and insisting on regular bathing. Kids become experts in assuring you they have had their bath pointing to damp towels and less wet hair. That is when I head into the bathroom like a drug sniffing police dog to see if the evidence they have left behind truly supports the barely wet hair and the nearly dry towel. Most occasions they have forgotten some clue and are discovered for having feigned bathing.
When I was a kid, my sisters and I coined the phrase “skip-a-bath.” Basically the game was to spend the time we were allotted to bathe, dressing up the bathroom for the parental-detective audit making sure there was water spilt everywhere and most of a tube of toothpaste squirted in the sink. (No kid using toothpaste for the right reasons is EVER that messy!) Not to mention actually allowing our feet to step into real water (in the sink) so as to accurately leave “realistic” wet (as in water) footprints for the edification of the parental snoop team. When I think back I certainly wasted more time than a real bath would have taken trying to fake that I had bathed when I had done nothing of the sort. I still have no understanding as to why it was so important to not bathe likely because it meant it was the end of the day and I saw it as a waste of time.
This aversion to baths, (unlike with pets) does rapidly reverse once the child hits the teenage years. Not sure if it is part of the teenage DNA why this happens or if it is only driven by attraction and notice by the opposite sex. Either way the results are the same. The kids who were notorious for not bathing are suddenly spending every waking moment in the bathroom. The child that would not bathe regularly is now availing himself of your en-suite washroom for hours at a time and often several times a day. If that was not bad enough this age group uses multiple towels each time. The towel that is used on the hair cannot possibly be allowed to touch another part of the same body. This would explain the half-dozen towels on the floor. I really do not want to know what body parts rate getting individual towels or why this is…some things are just better left unknown.
(In the beginning I used to smell the towels or laundry to see if it in fact needed to be washed. Teenagers cured me of this. I sniff NO MORE and will wash everything just in case and to be safe!)
The scene becomes much more complicated if you have female teenagers…then all of the above applies plus an array of sprays, lotions, hair products (not to forget a million hair clips, brushes, curling irons etc.) razors. Upon closer examination you realize that most of the mess left behind did not even belong to them. Your stuff has been raided, used and left dripping, broken and laying about the bathroom.
Parents with one child pretty much have it made. They clean the bathroom and when it is a mess there is only one person to blame. In this place where I am the minority with four blooming teenagers (not to mention 4 other younger kids) I am beginning to understand what it must be like to work either in a fast food or truck stop restaurant where someone checks off the list of chores on the public bathroom door hourly. The few miserable moments I take to pursue the call of nature myself are often lengthened as I find myself forced to whirlwind clean every time I happen to avail myself of the facilities. The ONLY thing missing is completing a checklist and signing it off (and of course a PAYCHECK). One 30-second trip devoted to my humanity in the bathroom is always followed by a full Tasmanian devil moment of pickup up the floor, clean up the toothpaste, wipe the counter, change the toilet paper roll and put out yet another clean towel.
If I should use the ladies room again, even if in less than an hour has elapsed, guaranteed I will have to repeat the tidy up routine all over again. If I worked for McDonald’s at least I would be paid for the bathroom breaks and not have the further insult of the mess makers sharing some of my DNA.
The other mystery that takes place is the toilet paper. My children eat it. There is no doubt. NO ONE could possibly exhaust the amount of toilet paper I regularly haul home. In the absence of Michael Angelo papier-mâché creations or the neighborhood decorated in “TP” one has to assume that the toilet roll was consumed…completely. (Of course watching the older kids help themselves to most of a paper towel roll to soak up two drops of water…perhaps the toilet paper is not that much of a mystery). Oh and yes we have a plunger in all the bathrooms. (!!)
The other reason I don’t like indoor bathrooms while raising teenagers is it becomes the perfect place to wait out any impending responsibilities. Nothing like assigning a child the dishes to have an “attack” of something strike rendering my workforce held captive in the bathroom. I have one child who has been known to watch a complete movie (while on the throne) being “indisposed” while the chores got all done without him.
I am thinking that perhaps the husband does have it right. Move out into the outback and look for a shack where a few satellite outhouses could be constructed.
I live in Canada so for at least 6 months of the year it would be doubtful that anyone would be brave enough to freeze their neither regions in the hopes of not having to do the supper dishes with a camp out in the outhouse. With the rest of the months here being either brutally hot or rainy I doubt that anyone would want to be outside in that little (no doubt in those months…”smelly”) place for too long either.
As for having to clean up the bathroom hourly… without a place to plug in the hair-straightener, no running water, no toilet to unplug… no towels…I would gain so much time…perhaps enough to drive into town and used a public washroom.
The Garden Goat
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