My Daughter’s Fixation on Bathroom Identity

Toddler obsessions can be strange and mysterious. Like lately, Brontë has been consumed by the significance of the bathroom in which you choose to pee.

How DARE you suggest I pee where boys pee??

So, for example, if Brontë is out somewhere with her dad, she will absolutely flip out about him taking her to the bathroom. Because that would mean peeing in a boy’s bathroom, which is NOT OKAY.

If he won’t take her to the girl’s room, she won’t want to go at all… no matter how many times we’ve explained that she’s allowed in the men’s room with her dad, while grown men aren’t allowed in the women’s bathroom.

Well, she’s not buying it and furthermore, she’s not happy about the whole unisex deal we have going on at home. She’s taken ownership of the bathroom closest to her room and keeps piling dresses and princess toys in there like some kind of feminine territorial display.

She’s okay with baby sister Bridget using it and actually seems flattered when I do. She’ll wander in after me, asking if I like her bathroom, checking to make sure there’s still toilet paper and pointing out her fancy-smelling soap. She seems to take pride in the place.

catbathroom.jpgAnd every single time, she’ll make pleasant small talk with me before requesting I put a girl’s bathroom sign on the door–one of those public restroom stick figures with a dress on–so daddy will quit going in there. Because it’s a GIRL bathroom.

Her peeing obsessions have worked their way into her humor lately too, what with her asking me last week if I wanted to go to China with her someday. I told her I’d love to and asked what she wanted to do there. She plans to eat rice with chopsticks, drink tea, and “PEE IN A CHINESE BATHROOM IF THE POLICE WOULD LET US,” she told me while wiping tears from her eyes and breaking into uncontrollable laughter.

MOMMY’S bathroom has flower-smelly stuff and proper girl accouterments 

“Pee in a Chinese bathroom,” she kept saying again and again, laughing harder every time. I have no idea what kinds of hilarious shenanigans she envisions taking place in Chinese bathrooms, or why she would imagine the Chinese police wouldn’t prefer people peeing inside the bathroom, but she found the idea hysterical, just the same.

This weekend, we were driving through Sacramento when we went past the coffee shop where John and I first met. John pointed it out to Brontë, telling her how we had cafe lattes and a seven-hour conversation at that table, right over there…

Brontë was fascinated. She loves to hear about her parents’ early relationship and likes to talk about what our wedding was like. She found a picture of us on our wedding day at her grandparents’ house which she stared at for ages before begging for a copy in her room. “You wore a white dress,” she reminds me sometimes, “And had white earrings and pink flowers. Can I see your ring?”

We decided to stop there for coffee. Brontë begged us to drink it there and found a nice table on the patio. Chewing on some lemon pound cake, she pointed out the men with strange beards playing chess in the corners before saying she needed to use the bathroom. I got up to take her.

We grabbed the long key next to the coffee bar and went into the single, unisex bathroom with long open windows. Brontë crawled up onto the toilet and relaxed, her little feet dangling over the bowl.

Suddenly she froze, her eyes enormous. “WAIT,” she said, staring me hard. “Wait wait wait… Hold on: Did you PEE IN THIS VERY SAME BATHROOM on the day you met my dad?”

“Umm… I don’t remember, but maybe… I probably did.”

Brontë stared in amazement for a few moments before heaving a deep sigh.

“Whoa, ” she said. “Just… wow.”


17 thoughts on “My Daughter’s Fixation on Bathroom Identity

  1. Ah, bathroom stories.

    When our daughter was young, my wife found some article in a parenting magazine, about the plight of fathers with young daughters and not being able to bring them into the men’s room, because… you know… unspecified reasons. (There was an implication that the other men might be inconvenienced by a young lady in their midst.)

    The article suggested that the father should wait until he encountered a mother bringing her child (didn’t specify boys or girls) into the ladies room and see if she’d be willing to escort his daughter in as well.

    “Uh, is this article from the 19th century?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine asking some strange woman (who probably has enough on her plate just getting her own demonspawn to use the can) to deal with my child.

    As a dude, I’ve been in the men’s room doing my business when a dad has come in with his daughter. We all understand. It’s not a big deal. But I understand that it’s a big deal for your daughter.

    I laughed when I saw the reference to a Chinese bathroom. My wife and I were in China for a few weeks, and on more than one occasion, had to use public toilet facilities that were squat toilets, basically just holes. But when you have to go, you have to go…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? That’s so ridiculous… as though a mom with a toddler son would wait for a random man to take her boy into the restroom.

      I definitely have enough trouble taking even my own two girls into the bathroom. Bridget looks for every opportunity to plunge her arms elbow-deep into the toilet.

      This reminds me of how often my husband and I dealt with finding baby-changing stations only in women’s bathrooms. It was so frustrating because my husband wanted to do his share of the diaper duties, but so many restaurants didn’t imagine the situation happening. What if the dad is taking the baby out alone? What if he’s a single dad? What if he’s just a good father who doesn’t automatically expect his wife to deal with every poo?

      This is making me want to write an entire post on the topic.

      That’s funny about the squat toilets. I’ve seen the same thing in Italy. I’m sure my daughter has no idea what Chinese bathrooms are like, but whatever she imagines is apparently funny 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Since my wife had diaper duties (duty!) during the day, I was happy to handle the task when I was able to do so, especially when going on.

        You’re right that often Men’s Room’s did not always have changing tables, but I was quite happy to use sink counters. One time, I had our toddler on the counter, I was changing a particularly delightful and heavenly diaper (you can substitute whatever adjectives you feel are appropriate) and a dude walked into the bathroom, saw me at work, turned around, and walked out.

        I thought that was pretty funny.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s roughly the same arrangement we’ve had: I deal with the diapers all day, so my husband takes the evening shift.

          Using the sink is a great idea, and I can picture the scene with the guy flipping around and walking out, haha.

          I think they should have to include changing tables in the men’s room when they are in the women’s. It’s only fair, plus… what happens when a guy is alone? Sinks don’t have those little safety belts on them. Seems like a huge liability issue to me…

          Liked by 1 person

            1. That’s good… we ran into the problem many times. Hopefully everyone gets on board.

              I’ve heard about that! My mother-in-law told me her generation’s men would always tell the women “this baby needs attention” when they smelled something off. So glad things have changed 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wondrous gift you are leaving your girls by writing this blog. Working on the family tree, I read the occasional anecdote with great pleasure. This will be a legacy for your babies and their babies and …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so! Someday, my girls with either be completely entertained or mortified 🙂

      Either way, it helps me remember so many cute little stories that I would otherwise forget over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I’m not sure why she found the idea of peeing in a Chinese bathroom so funny, but it was hilarious to watch her crack up that much about it. She kept remembering the idea and giggling for the rest of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes I think 7 hours and a few latte’s later we both used that bathroom a few times. You didn’t mention that conversation when you came back to the table. That’s hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

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