Monday, May 20, 2013

Childhood Fears: There's Always a Monster Lurking...

My boys are getting older and I have not had to drag them with me to the public women's bathroom for many years.  I forget some of the trauma that created - for everyone involved really.  I had to try to corral them toward the restroom and make sure we could all cram into the one handicapped stall and then admonish them not to unlock the door while mommy was going number one (they needed to know this or they would repeatedly ask).  I'd settled in, bracing myself for the loud comments about mommy's lack of a penis while the other ladies in line snickered.  But those poor, unsuspecting bathroom-goers also had to endure the wanna-be-ninja, not-so-stealthy lurkers who suddenly appeared under the adjoining walls to quizzically stare up at them while they did their business.  Uh huh.  Who's laughing now?

I almost had a complete meltdown the first time I allowed my son to go into the men's restroom unattended.  Those two minutes stretched on forever and all I could think about were the pedophiles who hung out, waiting for helpless boys who were starting to get too old to visit the ladies' room.  I loved the idea of making my kids count the entire time.  (Nudging door open a tad) "Louder!  I can't hear you!"  "I can't tinkle when I have to say numbers!"

Yesterday as I was entering a restroom I saw another mom shepherding her son in front of her.  He stopped suddenly as the door opened and the mom instinctively knew to calm his bathroom-fears.  "Honey, there's not even an air dryer in here.  It's gonna be alright."  Oh my gosh, I totally blocked this from my memory.  You had to stake out each bathroom to find out if it was gonna give your kids nightmares because of the loud airplane takeoff that occurred each time someone decided not to just wipe their freshly-cleaned hands on their mom jeans.  I was thinking about that phase when I heard them discussing the next stressor.  Would the toilet suddenly decide to flush on its own?  Yep, it was an automatic flusher.  She kept reassuring him that it was alright while also praising him for getting the pee in (or near) the toilet.  As I stood up I heard the loud whooshing flush of my toilet over his little high-pitched squeals.  Oops.  Sorry buddy.  His own toilet monster soon came to life and he again freaked out, but mom was telling him the whole time, "It's fine honey.  See? We're all OK, right?  Nothing happened to us and you are fine."  You never know how long this bathroom avoidance stage will last, or what other events will trigger the same reaction.

When Logan was 2 1/2 years old we went into a party store in early October.  Big mistake.  The aisles were festooned with creepy Halloween clowns, bats, and hanging dismembered mummies.  He was completely traumatized.  I had to leave the store and go back later without kids to pick up the paper goods I needed to donate to some school event.  For the next year or so he wouldn't go into ANY store without first having a top-rated, freakout tantrum.  He was expecting a damn troop of clowns to jump out at him from under an apparel carousel, or some ghost to come sailing down the cereal aisle and suck out his soul.  It took a good five years for him to go willingly into a Halloween store.  And then who was the one screaming when a giant, fuzzy spider jumped up on a motorized lever?  Yeah... it was actually me.  But the cashiers were very reassuring that most of the customers had been startled.  I'm sure they witnessed that same kind of ineffective hopping, coupled with a bleating yelp hundreds of times each day (I keep telling myself).  Good thing I could quickly run off to the bathroom by myself!

1 comment:

  1. While reading this I was reminded of a time in Disneyland last week when the mother was in the next stall with her little daughter not able to get her out of the stall. The little girl kept wanting to flush the toilet and all the while mom kept explaining the "beauty" of the thing - it flushes itself. It was too much for the little one to comprehend - she HAD to flush before she could is a confusing world for our little ones. Hearing of it's "beauty" was a new concept even for me.....puts a whole new light on the subject.