WHY do kids go through a stage where they HAVE to tell you that they need to go to the bathroom? And it's not just a, "hey mom, if you're wondering where I am, I'll be on the pot" kind of a thing. It's a an alert. A life and death warning. A if-you-don't-know-I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom-now-this-might-be-the-last-time-we-see-each-other-on-earth kind of notification. Same idea as when the Tax Man audits you. That gut wrenching, heart breaking information.
I have seen kids walk past the bathroom while having to go really bad. Where are they going that is more important than just going? Let me guess... they are on their way to tell their mom they have to go to the bathroom.
It sure would be nice if kids did that about other things. Like say for example, eating dog food. They walk past the dog food to ask if they can eat the dog food. And then you can know they are wanting to eat dog food and are able to stop them in time from contaminating themselves with dead meat in the dog food.
Or why not ask if they can bite their brother? When they suddenly feel the urge to bite their brother, they could ask you instead. Wouldn't that be nice? Just think of all the quarrels you could prevent, let alone the human mouth shaped teeth marks on your son's arm you could stop. That would be nice.
But, no. They only ask about the bathroom. Why is it an universal thing too? I have seen kids all over the country, the world, from many different homes, from many different nations ask their mom if they could use the bathroom.
I had thought for awhile we had evaded this stage of parenting/childhood with Landon but it looks now like we haven't. He is exactly almost 4 years old. I wonder if that's the normal age to start this stage or not?
I am thinking the next time Landon asks me if he can go to the bathroom, I will just say no. Absolutely not. "I am so glad you asked me if you could go because I had been meaning to tell you that today, you are not allowed to pee...." OF COURSE YOU CAN USE THE BATHROOM!
I have wondered if kids just want a personal escort to take them to the bathroom. Or if they were afraid of the darkness of some windowless bathrooms. Or if they needed to know that somebody cared about them. Or if they were afraid they'd sit on the big open expanse of the pot and out of the blue fall in and disappear forever down that cold, dark hole. Or if they are just testing our patience as time after time we point out the obvious... "For Pete's sake the bathroom is right there behind you and it has your name written all over it."
There are so many reasons that could be why kids have to notify their mom about their need to use the home's toilet facilities. I am just not sure if we know of all those possible reasons yet.
So, I scheduled an interview...
Me: Landon why do you tell Mommy when you have to go to the bathroom?
Landon: 'Cause... So when I poop you can know when you should come and do me. (by "do me," he means wipe.)
Me: Is that all?
Me: What are the other reasons?
Landon: Because then you know how I'm done. And when I get off the potty chair, that's disobeying.
Me: Why is that disobeying? (I am wondering where this is going and where it came from.)
Landon: Because then you're gonna get a spanking. I'm serious. My dad used to be older (he means younger) and he got off the potty chair. When he was a little boy, I was big. I wasn't the little boy, Daddy was.
Me: What does Daddy being on the potty chair have to do with why you tell Mommy you have to go to the bathroom?
Landon: (he began to tell me about the UPS man (the SRP truck, as he calls him). I get him back on the subject at hand...) I don't know because... then you will come and wipe me. You have to come in about 3 minutes. Like today we went all potty in my potty chair... 2 of them. (he means he went twice but I'm not sure about the "we" part).
Me: Why do you tell Mommy when you just have to pee?
L: Hey Mom, let's talk about the monkey that peed...
Me: No, let's talk about why you ask Mommy everytime you have to pee.
Me: When you have to go potty, why do you tell mommy?
L: Because then I don't know what I have to say.
Me: Do you have to go potty right now?
L: No. I'm writing. (he was addressing his mail.)
Me: Well, Landon when you have to pee in a little bit, are you going to tell Mommy?
L: No. When I'm older then I'll go poop. (he then got up to get the stamps.)
Me: Landon, Mommy needs to talk to you about something... just like I talk to Daddy about things sometimes... why do have to tell Mommy that you're going to the bathroom?
L: Because then I won't understand you. And I'll talk to you... "Mommy I'm done." (he means he sits in the bathroom and says, "Mommy I'm done.)
I ask him again.
L: Because then I won't understand you and you won't come and I'll have to keep asking and asking. And you won't come because you're not...
Me: (a little King James speech there... "because she was not.") Okay, but why when you just pee?
L: Becaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaause... the monkey peed.
Me: (okay, if you want to talk about the monkey, we'll talk about him...) Did he tell his mom?
L: Um, or his daddy. Or his friend.
Me: Really? So is that why you tell mommy?
L: Ummmmm. Uh-huh.
Me: When you ask me again if you can go to the bathroom, I'm gonna say no. Then what will you do?
L: Spank you.
Getting a little weary, I repeat my question one last time.
L: Because then...(his voice trailed off)... I don't know.
So, there's our proof. These kids really don't know. It's not some irrational fear that makes them tell us they have to go to the bathroom. It's not the dark. It's not the cold toilet seat. It's not their fear of forever being gone from us and getting flushed right down the toilet with their pee. It's not that they need permission.
The reason is because.... well, they don't know either.