Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Windchime

Daughter: It's impossible.
Me: You know back in England some people say, "better out than in."
Son: Why would it ever go in!?

My daughter is a chimney. Don't worry - I'm not suggesting she's started hitting the Rothman's and is smoking. Although I'm quite aware if she were to hold a cigarette to her mouth and say, "sod you then" she'd look disturbingly like her Gran. Who - as an aside - looked an awful lot like Colin Firth. Anyhoo - it's far more nefarious than that. Every evening after school my daughter will park herself on the couch with her brother (usually after shedding most of their clothes in that way that kids tend to) and bottom-burp away like a wind-powered metronome. It's not just the rhythmic frequency that's alarming. It's the ferocity. She's like that one bloke we all know that holds no shame and just bellows it out in public. Her brother is so desensitized by the whole experience that he doesn't even remark on it anymore. And of course I have to. I do that tiresome, repetitive parent thing I've suggesting she might need to go to the bathroom. She'll shake her head, trump some more and then inevitably two minutes later will make the, "oh yeah - he might be right for once" expression and sprint to the bathroom.

Two things here. Firstly it boggles my mind that my daughter seems to treat going to the bathroom like a game of chicken. Obvious by the fact she appears to be trying to beat the land/speed record when it becomes clear to her that she absolutely must go now or something foul and depraved is going to occur. Any parent can attest to the countless times of cleaning up whoopcidents. Although they usually involve much younger children than my daughter. I'm sure I can't be the only one who has spent thirty minutes bleaching a toy trampoline after one of my kids appeared to have a shit-and-salami party on it.

Secondly - my once proud, warm feelings about how my kids have developed good bathroom etiquette have evaporated as far as my daughter goes. So desperate is she to get there on time she no longer closes the door and has returned to that infuriating habit of trying to hold a conversation loudly across the house whilst she's at it. I'm certain she remembers House Rule 73 (Urine, children and Daddy making dinner do not a casserole make) and yet she flagrantly seems to be ignoring it. When she's done I now always have to ask if she's washed her hands. Which she hasn't. Or if she flushed. Which she's batting around .500 at. So frequent is her lack of bathroom decorum that I'm quite persuaded to pick up one of those cute signs you see in Hobby Lobby or Homegoods.

Owen though - bless him - still holds dear the notion that bathrooming (as he calls it sometimes) is a private, ignoble exercise that one should take ample time to get to and that holds a series of steps to ensure everything is all in proper order. He tends to casually mosey towards the bathroom - perhaps with a little song or dance - breezily letting me know he'll be gone for a bit. He'll close the door (and weirdly always has insisted on that ever since he was toilet trained at a bizarrely early age) and then proceed to shout a few ingrained statements that oddly remind me of Winston Smith chanting, "We've always been at war with Eastasia." His two most common phrases being, "this is none of your business" and, "pooping is not a team sport." Personally I'm quite impressed that he's taken something I've said a few times to heart in such a manner. After bellowing that out there is silence. Then a flush. Followed by the sound of him happily washing his hands. If he could he'd do that grandpa-whistle that grandpas make when they're happily working in an allotment. After which Owen feels no desire to narrate his experiences in the bathroom most of the time. Unless he has concerns, of course. Of course he is five. So there are those treasured moments when you're stood in line at Starbucks ready to order when he loudly tells me, "my poop has been green lately, Daddy." I wont lie - I did wonder if that was some odd marketing ploy on Starbucks behalf that involved their signature color.

Anyway - I have had the conversation with my kids that perhaps - and it's just a suggestion - there isn't quite the need to roar out wind like a foghorn warning a ship about a sandbank in a storm. And there's certainly a time and place. I recall many a disappointed look that I've made when out shopping for groceries years back and looking at their mother with, "that evil monstrosity was you, wasn't it?" Which brings me to the point. I told my kids that you don't have to do that. Yes you don't want to be all bloated and uncomfortable. But that personally I'm quite capable of not thrumping any and every time the incident arises. At which point my kids looked at me like I'm some kind of magical arse wizard (and just to be clear that is not my profile name on Tinder). They simply don't believe me. They really do believe it can't be prevented. Once at the border it will attempt to cross. So basically that same fear that irrational Arizonians have about Mexicans. My kids naturally believe 99.99% of what I say. It sends a shiver through me that I've been wondering when my kids will develop that wonderful sense of questioning the things they hear - and that it'll be rooted in thinking that Daddy doesn't seem to know anything about farting.

Quite frankly if there's something I don't want to be an expert in it's that.

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