In a London restaurant, once, I went into a toilet cubicle, sat down on the loo and – to my surprise – found myself facing two armchairs. Inside the toilet cubicle, somehow, there were two full-sized armchairs directly facing the toilet, as though all the furniture was in conversation. At the time, I found this unaccountably creepy. Now I’m a mother, I just realise it’s a practical place to put your children while you answer the call of nature.
You see, before I had my son, two years ago, I was the sort of awkward person who couldn’t defecate in the same postcode as someone else. But parenting knocks that out of you, because – unless you have a very complicated system of pulleys, mirrors, earplugs and baby monitors in place – when you go to the loo, you have to take your baby with you.
Of course, when my son was an actual baby, that wasn’t such a tough proposition. I could plop him (pardon the pun) on the floor of the bathroom with some Duplo or maybe something on the iPad – or, if I was wearing him in a wrap, keep him in there – and go about my business in a relatively blithe and carefree manner. He was a baby – he had no real concept of what I was up to. I could have been doing my tax return or chopping carrots for all he cared.
You see, before I had my son, two years ago, I was the sort of awkward person who couldn’t defecate in the same postcode as someone else
Now, though, he is two. On the one hand, that means that, if the stars are aligned (and Teletubbies is on and he has a new toy), he is sufficiently distracted for me to rush off for a 30-second wee without worrying that he’ll destroy himself/the house/let burglars in. On the other hand, though, it means he has some understanding of what’s going on around him. So, when we go to the toilet together, which, now I’m pregnant, is several million times a day – and once I have convinced him that, no, I don’t need him to sit on my lap, or brush my hair or teeth, thank you – he will offer a running commentary. “Ooh, Mummy big wee wee!” he’ll exclaim delightedly. “Mummy big wee wee noisy! Ooh, lots of toilet paper! What’s that smell? Blargh, stinky…” etc. At which point the toilet-shy pre-parent in me curls up and dies a thousand times over.
And this is why I will be taking a leaf out of this ingenious mum’s book once my son can a) read and b) be trusted to be by himself for half an hour, and coming up with some solid, unbreakable toilet privacy rules. “Do not disturb Mummy unless she has been in here for over half an hour and/or you hear a sound like Mummy falling over and breaking her hip,” I will write, in large capital letters. In red.
Just thinking of all the bathroom sacrifices I could indulge in, if I had 30 minutes to myself, is dizzying. I could start having baths again. I could use separate shampoo and conditioner in my hair, instead of relying on a single shitty application of time-saving so-called conditioning shampoo. I could shave above the knee once more. Above the knee! And I could, joy of joys, go back to mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while developing an attractive red ring on my behind from the toilet seat. Just imagine. This sort of luxury seems unthinkable.
That’s a few years away, of course, so, for now, I’ll just daydream about the toilet privileges to come and thank my lucky stars that I’m not my husband, who has to endure our son karate-chopping his wee stream. Things can always be worse.