One Minute and Counting

Jane needed to use the bathroom. But there was a slight problem.

She was at Destination Imagination practice.

Why was this a problem?

Jane is a Freshman in college. For the second year in a row, she is coaching a young DI team. The kids are now fifth and sixth graders and are very rambunctious. She has trouble getting them to focus, and if she lets them go to the bathroom, they take a long time and are gone long enough for her to believe they are playing.

So whenever they ask to use the bathroom, she gives them a tight time limit.

She looked down at her phone. They were getting ready to run through an Improv skit. The timer on the phone was set to five minutes. I don’t think I can wait five minutes, she thought. There was no choice.

“Guys, sit tight for a few minutes. I need to use the bathroom,” she said, getting up.

“You’ve got one minute!” the kids announced with joy.

As she raced down the hall, she heard them counting: “Sixty! Fifty nine! Fifty eight! Fifty seven!…”

She tried to hurry, but sometimes a trip to the bathroom simply can’t be a quick affair. While she sat uncomfortably in the stall, the girls poked their heads into the bathroom.

“Your time is up! Come on! Let’s go!” they called out laughing.

“I’ll be out in a minute! Just go wait in the room.”

The girls giggled as they walked away.

When she returned to the room herself, one of the boys looked up. “You went poop, didn’t you?”

“I’m sick!” she tried. The kids weren’t buying it. They were enjoying every minute of her embarrassment and the turning of the tables.

She has a special bond with these kids. She doesn’t have all of the experienced kid-handling skills of the teachers and parents who manage the other teams. She’s sometimes rough and has trouble being patient.

And she’s got a lot going on. It’s her first year in college and it’s been a very difficult adjustment for her. She’s dealing with some personal challenges while learning to live in an apartment with a roommate, making her own decisions, and setting her own schedule. She lives in the adjacent town and travels about twenty minutes to get to practice.

But these kids love her and she loves them. I think they appreciate her “cool” young adult persona. I’m proud of her for agreeing to coach them with all the unknowns she has this year. I think it helps keep her grounded and gives her some responsibility for something beyond herself.

And it’s just flat-out humbling to have a kid knowingly state the condition of your bowels. In front of other laughing kids.

Lost and Found

So, the other day, I stepped into my favorite workplace bathroom and chose my favorite stall.  I noticed an old-style, basic black plastic comb on the toilet paper dispenser.  You know, like one a man might keep in his back pocket.  That struck me as strange, but no big deal.

I turned to face the toilet after locking the stall and noticed something much stranger.  The Febreeze bottle that usually sits, if I’m not mistaken, on top of the paper liner dispenser above the toilet was actually floating in the toilet water.  I stared at it blankly for a moment and then quickly moved to my second-favorite stall.

As I did so, I thought back to my boss telling me he had seen a pair of reading glasses in a toilet of the men’s room about a month ago.  His comment at the time was that he would have left them there too.  I had pondered whether it would have been worth it to me and whether enough washing could have overcome the ick factor had they been my glasses.  With the Febreeze bottle, I found myself annoyed at the person who had done it for not retrieving the bottle and throwing it away.  I briefly contemplated doing it myself but then thought better of it.

Shortly after my boss told me about the reading glasses, I noticed a paper towel lying on a table in the adjacent breakroom.  On top of the paper towel was a pair of gold reading glasses.  Written on the towel was “found in men’s room”.  I wondered whether these were the toilet glasses.  I assumed the janitor had retrieved them and I couldn’t help but wonder if she had washed them with soap and water or just dried them and set them out there.  They sat there for a long time.  No one claimed them.  I wondered if the owner knew where they had been and refused to pick them up.

Back to the Febreeze bottle.  I walked into the bathroom the next day and again chose my favorite stall.  The Febreeze bottle was no longer in the toilet bowl.  No, it was sitting on the floor, waiting for someone to feel the need to use it.  Again, I wondered who had retrieved it and why, oh why, they hadn’t just thrown it away.

Don’t Wake Mommy! Please!

As I have said before, I don’t like getting woken up in the middle of the night. It makes me grumpy. I spend an unfortunate amount of time being grumpy. Fortunately for my family, I’ve learned ways to present my grumpiness with a bit of lighthearted humor. To take the edge off.

Since we are both off work this week, my husband and I have been trying to finish the remodeling project we started nearly two years ago when we gutted our bedroom and bath of everything – including drywall and insulation. We had gotten the project to the point where we just needed flooring and baseboards in both rooms. Oh, and door frames. And new lighting and a heater in the bathroom. And a mirror. And the attic access needs to be trimmed. And it’d be nice to have handles and locks on the sliding doors. Oh, and I guess it’d be nice to have a vanity actually attached to the wall with a working sink on it. And then I decided that I really couldn’t live with the ugly metal window in the bathroom after all.

Needless to say, we’ve been working very hard and going to bed exhausted all week. I’m still usually a light sleeper, though. So, two nights ago, I was awakened suddenly by my boys’ bedroom door opening. I tensed and waited, praying that I’d hear the toilet lid go up rather than hear the shuffle of feet approaching my bed.

I didn’t hear the toilet lid. Or the shuffling feet. Or any other noises. I strained my ears to try to hear what was going on. I glanced out to the hallway to confirm their door was indeed open. I thought I heard whispering. Were they both up? What was going on? Then I heard the dog move, more excited whispering, verging on giggling, feet moving hurriedly back down the hall.

As I reached for my phone to see what time it was (12:30am), I knocked it off the table to the floor. A shadowy form paused at their bedroom door briefly before closing it. I laid there tense before realizing I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep soon. I got up and peeked through the crack by their door. (Another project, don’t ask). I saw and heard nothing. I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. I laid back down and wondered why I had had children as I waited impatiently for sleep to reclaim me.

The next day, I asked them why they had gotten up in the middle of the night.

“Oh,” said Daryl, semi-evasively, “I was just using the bathroom.”

“No you weren’t. I never heard you switch on the light. Never heard the toilet lid go up. Never heard it flush. I did, however, hear whispering, which means Hal was with you. What were you doing?”

“Bubba was going to go to the computer so we could play a game!” said Hal, with a fair amount of 5-year-old glee.

Daryl looked at me with a sheepish smile and tried to shake his head in a weak denial.

“But you didn’t. Why not?”

“Because Rose woke up and I was afraid she’d wake you up and get us in trouble, so we hurried back to bed.”

“Ok, Daryl,” I said, “I’m a ridiculously light sleeper. You can’t even open your door without waking me up. And I really don’t like being woken up. So please, please don’t leave your room unless it’s to go pee. Ok?”

The next night, Hal reminded me that sometimes I really am so tired that opening their door does not wake me. Those nights are the worst. Those are the nights where you are deep in a blissful slumber and are ever so slowly roused from that slumber by the realization that there is a child crawling on top of you. Those are the worst because you can still sense the wonderfulness of that sleep you were in and are coming to realize that it is all over and you will be forced awake.

“Hal, what are you doing?!”

“I need to go potty!”

“Well, then go potty!” This is where the grumpiness comes in. I was so dead to the world that he could have walked down to the hall bathroom, as he has done many times before, without waking me at all – for once. But this time, this time, he felt the need to come tell me first.

“I don’t want to walk down there.”

“Well, it’s either that or pee in my bed and I don’t want you doing that!” I threw off my covers and stalked down the hall, flipped on the light, and tried to stay in the hall in the vain hope that not exposing myself to the bright lights would make it easier to go back to sleep.

He entered the room, lifted the seat, and began to pee. I stood in the hallway thinking about little boys and how they often pee when not very awake. With a sigh, I turned to look in the bathroom. His stream was disturbingly horizontal. I wasn’t sure whether he was hitting the bowl or the underside of the raised seat.

Alarmed, and too tired to consider the consequences, I said, “Point it down!”

This startled him, causing him to jump and bump the toilet. The lid and seat, which need to be tightened, fell closed. He continued to pee.

“Stop! Stop! Wait!” I yelled as I rushed into the room to raise the seat. And then I headed to the kitchen for the cleaner and paper towels so I could clean the mess I had helped make while he returned to bed. When I crawled back into mine, beside the husband who never wakes, I tried not to think about how good my sleep had felt before it was interrupted or how tired I’d be come morning. I just tried to remember how much I really do love that kid.

A Lovely Acorn


This is my bathroom drawer. Unlike many women, I have few needs in prepping myself each morning; deodorant, a hairbrush, some blush and mascara suffice. If it’s cold, I’ll bust out the hair dryer from the adjacent drawer. Oh, yeah, and an acorn. Doesn’t everyone have an acorn in their bathroom drawer? No?

On a recent morning, I was getting ready for work and I noticed a small green plastic dinosaur and a tiny acorn sitting on the counter. I had removed them from my pocket earlier in the week. I’m not in the habit of stuffing tree seeds or toys in my pockets but Hal has his effect.

The dinosaur entered my pocket after he had spent a week looking for it at church. He had left it there and was desperate to find it. When he ultimately found it in the nursery’s trash can, I suggested that I keep it for him so he didn’t lose it again.

The acorn joined it a short time later as we prepared to leave. I was standing outside watching some of the kids play in the yard. Hal was scavenging near the flower beds. He ran up to me, full of excitement.

“Look, look, Mommy! Isn’t this a beautiful little acorn? It still has its little hat on and everything!”

“Yes, dear, it’s very nice.”

“It’s for you! I want you to have it!”

I thanked him for the thoughtful gift. Other times, I might have waited until he turned his back and then dropped it quietly into the flower bed. But the acorn was kind of cute and at that moment, I had a particularly low tolerance for the consequences if I were to get caught. So, it joined the dinosaur in my pocket.

And then they both landed on the counter when I undressed that night. They went several days without Hal noticing them so when I saw them this particular morning, I called him in.

“Look,” I said. “There’s your green dinosaur. Why don’t you take it to your room?”

“And there’s your acorn!” he announced, once again excited. “Look at its little hat!”

“Yes, it’s a lovely acorn.”

“Where do you want me to put it?” he asked.

“Well… I really don’t have any place to keep it…” I said, preparing to suggest that he store it somewhere or put it out in the yard.

“I know! You can keep it in this drawer!” He placed it carefully in the open drawer, beamed at me proudly, and left the room with the dinosaur.

And now I have an acorn in my bathroom drawer. I might just leave it there. It kinda makes me smile.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

After traveling over an hour to my daughter’s last volleyball game and then sitting through the B team’s 3-match game, I needed to use the bathroom. I stood up and quietly told my husband where I was headed. As I started down the bleachers, Hal, who is always hopelessly bored at the volleyball games and looking for any possible source of distraction, hopped up and, running to catch up, called out, “Wait! I want to go with you!”

I laughed and said, “I’m just going to the bathroom, honey!”

He gave an embarrassed “Oh” and began to return to his seat. The couple sitting near where I was standing smiled. Then, as I turned to walk away, he called out again, “Wait! I want a hug!”

Their smiles grew bigger as he hurried down the steps and gave me a long, tight hug. As we began to release from it, he grabbed me again and said, “Wait! One more!”

I finally got him to let go and again attempted to resume my journey. I was almost to the bottom of the bleachers when he did it again. “Wait! Just one more!”

He raced back down to me for another hug and I began to wonder if I’d ever make it out of the gym. “I’m just going to the bathroom,” I said. “I won’t be gone that long.”

The couple was openly laughing at this point. I love this kid. And I love his hugs. And I love his enthusiasm. And I love the little happy moments he creates for the people nearby.

Mom, the Lego Mechanic

After Daddy took Daryl to Boy Scouts and we dropped Jane off at volleyball practice, Hal and I found ourselves at home alone. The living room is a disaster and we have company coming Friday so I began to pick up.

I found Hal’s Battat airplane and cordless drill toy but it was missing a screw. There was no way to reattach the propeller. I picked up the parts and searched for the screw. I didn’t find it but I did find a Hot Wheels car and a handful of Lego’s. Gathering up my finds, I headed to the boys’ bedroom.

Once there, I deposited the Lego’s and car in their appropriate tubs and then placed the airplane in its designated spot, which was right next to Daryl’s Lego X-Wing Fighter. That’s when I noticed that the X-Wing had a sagging wing and was missing three of its wingtip lasers.

I found one of the lasers and a few loose parts nearby, so I sat on the end of Hal’s bed and began the important task of reconstruction. I had just identified that other parts were truly missing and begun to dig through one of the Lego boxes when I was called.

“I’m done!!”

Every parent loves those words. Duty called and I placed the X-Wing Fighter carefully on the bed and headed to the bathroom, my mind still on how easy or hard it might be to find the missing parts and whether I wanted to find them in the right color.

Absentmindedly, I wiped Hal’s bottom, announced “there you go!”, and then flushed the toilet. As I rinsed the soap from my hands, I heard a splash and a groan from Hal.

Turning back to the toilet, I saw him sitting on the floor with a shocked look on his face. He was holding his right arm in the air over the toilet and it was wet. Water was all over the seat and the lid.

“What happened?!”

“You didn’t put the lid down!!” he wailed.

“No, I didn’t, honey. You should look before you try to put your hand on the lid. Well, you are going to have to take a shower now.”

I was as unhappy as Hal since this further delayed my mechanic duties in the bedroom. Then, inspiration hit. As I helped him undress, I asked, “Would you rather take a bath instead?”


Before I knew it, he was happily splashing in bubbles and I was happily digging through the Lego bins. It took awhile, but eventually I found all missing parts, in the right colors, and even found the three missing lasers, still intact.

I have such a sense of accomplishment. My husband might come home wondering why I didn’t get more done in the living room, but, hey! Things come up! The Rebel Alliance can’t possibly fight against the Empire with their fighters in such a state of disrepair!

A Matter of Etiquette

Our bathroom, the never-ending remodeling project, does not have a mirror or a sink. This is why I found myself in the kids’ bathroom drying my hair while Jane brushed her teeth.

As she rinsed her toothbrush, she dropped it into the recently spit toothpaste at the bottom of the sink, just as she was turning off the water. She grimaced at me slightly and then turned to wipe it clean on the washcloth hanging on the towel rack behind us.

“Jane! You should have rinsed it off before you wiped it on a towel that other people might use to wipe their faces!”

“What? You mean the washcloth that I used to clean my shoes?”

With eyes wide in disbelief, I said, “If you used that to clean your shoes, you shouldn’t have hung it up on the towel rack where other people might use it.”

“Oh,” she replied, looking slightly abashed. She quickly pulled it off the rack. And then turned to the mirror and… wiped the toothpaste from the corners of her mouth with it. Grinning at me as she did so.

And all this time, I thought it was boys that were supposed to be disgusting.

Sleepless Nights and Logical Consequences

I was blissfully asleep when soft sobbing across the hall awoke me. I glanced at my sleeping husband and briefly considered waking him so that he could go comfort the child. Most likely, Hal had rolled away from his blanket. All I would have to do is go in there and tuck it back into his hands. To get my husband to do it, I’d have to shake him awake and explain what’s going on. No, I decided, I will get back to sleep quicker and with less fuss if I tend to this myself. I glanced at the clock as I got up. 2:30.

When I entered the boys’ room, I found Hal standing in his bed, holding his blanket. So much for that theory. The sobbing was getting stronger. Soon it would be all-out crying. “Hal, what is wrong, baby?”

“My tajamas are wet!”

“Did you pee in them?”

“Yes! And not just a little bit!”

I reached out to touch his pajamas. Sure enough, his fuzzy footed monster pajamas were dripping wet. As was the blanket, the pillow pet, the sheets. Everything. I sighed. “You didn’t go potty before you went to bed, did you?”

He admitted tearfully that he had not. My husband would make him carry the wet items to the washing machine. I knew from experience that that would cause me considerable grief and delay my return to bed. Natural Consequences, Logical Consequences, none of that mattered to me right then. The voice that urged the best parenting move for long-term gain was ruthlessly shoved to the back of my head. My decision making was centered completely around getting back to sleep as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, this boy was soaked. I peeled off his clothes and walked him to the bathroom. Walking naked to the bathroom is not what sleepy four year-olds like to do in the middle of a cold night so he screamed and cried all the way down the hall. I began to wipe him down with a wet washcloth.

The crying was loud enough to wake Daddy, who soon appeared in the bathroom doorway. “What happened?”

“Hal peed in his bed. Not just a little bit. He peed a lot. I mean, A LOT.”

He addressed Hal very sternly, “Hal? I asked you if you went potty. You said you did. I said, ‘I don’t think you did. Are you sure?’ You said you were. You even said, ‘I went potty earlier. Didn’t you hear me flush?!’ And I warned you, didn’t I? I told you that if you wet your bed, you’d have to carry your sheets to the washing machine and take a shower.” A shower? No! When am I ever going to get back to bed?!

We returned to the bedroom where Daddy flipped on the light! Poor Daryl! He started gathering up the sheets while I helped Hal get another pair of pajamas on. Then he told Hal to pick up the bundle and carry it to the laundry room before heading down the hall himself to get paper towels and cleaner. I found myself staring at Hal, who was staring at the bundle.

In a tired voice that dreaded what was coming, I tried to encourage him, “Go ahead and pick it up.”

“It’s too big!”

“Honey!” I called out, “He says it’s too big and it’s going to get his pajamas wet.” Please let’s just take care of it so we can get back to bed!

“Well, I guess he better take those pajamas off then, huh?”

With yet another sigh, I helped him back out of his pajamas. Daddy returned with the cleaner, which I took and he shepherded the wailing child to the other end of the house. I cleaned the plastic bed cover and then looked for new sheets. Oh, yeah, I decided to store all the sheets in Jane’s closet. Brilliant.

When I entered her room, she looked up at me. Of course. She hadn’t been able to sleep through all the mayhem. I grimaced at her and felt around in the closet for some sheets. By the time I got Hal’s bed made, Hal was wailing in the shower. I finished up quickly and turned the light back off.

As I practically ran back to my now cold bed, I heard Daddy joking with Hal. He had kept his temper the whole time. He had sternly enacted the consequences that had been promised, but never got angry. “Are you ready to get your pajamas back on?”


“Do you want to take another shower?”


They both laughed. Daddy hugged son and then helped him back into his pajamas before carrying him to bed. He then crawled in beside me and, with a brief “Goodnight sweetheart,” returned to the wonderful world of slumber.

I was destined to lay there awake for another hour and a half. In the morning I learned that Daryl had slept through the entire ordeal. Jane was tired. I was exhausted. But you know what? Now, when we ask Hal if he went to the bathroom, he only says yes if he actually did. Otherwise, he stands up straight, fesses up, and heads off to the toilet. I guess one sleepless night was worth it.

Passing by the Bathroom

Hal wanted a bubble bath this evening so I ran the water and added the bubbles. He jumped in and started playing with his toys. I planned to clean the sinks and counter while he played so left the room to go find the cleaner.

When I returned, he was leaning against the front of the toilet holding up the lid (but not the seat) as he peed. His bum and the back of his legs were covered in bubbles. The stream from the front barely cleared the seat and would, of course, soon dribble all over it.

This scene reminded me of a couple of other boyhood bathroom antics witnessed as I passed by. About this time last year, Poppy was getting ready to give Hal his shower when Hal suddenly announced he needed to go potty and sat down on the toilet. Poppy went down the hall and Hal soon popped off the toilet and started playing around.

As I was walking down the hall, I saw him poke his head out to see if Poppy was returning and then heard him quietly exclaim to himself, “Oh! Here he comes!” I walked by just in time to see him hopping back onto the toilet and farting as Poppy entered the room, none the wiser.

Earlier that year, I had walked by the bathroom to see his older brother with his underwear around his ankles standing in front of the toilet. As I came into his view, he suddenly jumped sideways and fell into the bathtub.

Apparently, he had decided to try to hide from me and had underestimated how much the underwear would restrict his movement!