The Heads Up.. or how parents now have to inform each other when they go to the bathroom | POTTY MOUTH
My husband and I have a hard time remembering certain details of our lives before our son was born. We remember big differences, like how instead of being woken on a Saturday morning at 5:45 by a demand for Rescuebots and apple juice, we used to sleep in on weekends and wake each other up with morning sex and then nap some more and finally venture out for a boozy brunch at 1PM. Or how, instead of painstakingly preparing a Pinterest recipe for organic baked chicken fingers with a side of this-is-the-only-vegetable-Charlie-will-tolerate, we could wait until 8PM to decide which delicious and/or adventurous thing we might order in for dinner. Or how, instead of taking a family-friendly cruise on a Dr. Seuss-themed ship and packing an entire suitcase full of sticker books, Legos, and Goldfish crackers, we once went to an all-inclusive in Mexico that we dubbed “Sexico” because we spent so much time… well, you get it. But we can’t recall how we operated in certain day-to-day situations. Specifically, we can’t remember a time when we didn’t give each other a heads up before going to the bathroom to poop.
We don’t even do it in a euphemistic way. Other more genteel people say things like “I need to take a meeting” or “I’m going to drop the kids off at the pool”, but we just say, “Hey babe? I think I need to poop”, and then we nod in understanding and mentally prepare for whatever lies ahead. (Poop lies ahead. It’s usually just poop. But sometimes it’s an S&S – shit and shower – or an SS&S – shit, shower, and shave. We like to mix it up.)
It recently occurred to me that not everyone over-communicates in this way, so I brought it up with The Husbo so that we could examine the habit. We realized that it materialized after Charlie was born for the following reasons:
- I’m going to be busy for a while, so please handle anything baby-related while I’m gone.
- Please redirect our child’s impulse to Need Me while I am indisposed.
But it also covers these things:
- The bathroom will be occupied for a long time. Do you need to pee/grab some Advil/brush your hair/floss/do anything before I take over this space?
- It’s going to smell bad. Stay away.
All of that makes sense, right? But I wanted to check in with other couples to find out whether they do the same. I wanted to know where we fell on the poop communication spectrum. I asked around, and I learned so much.
I learned that because we live in New York City, a place with small apartments that usually have only one bathroom, the need to communicate the Intent to Poop is much higher than in the suburbs, where a person can disappear upstairs for many minutes and reappear later without anyone noticing they were ever gone.
I learned that some people don’t give warning that they are going to poop, but they feel the need to report on it afterward. As in “Whoo! That was a rough one!” or “I think I just lost a good five pounds,” or the more simple but very helpful “Do NOT go in there.”
I learned that people who are partnered with someone who takes a 30-minute shit would appreciate being informed in advance so that they have the chance to get in there before it becomes Ground Zero.
I learned that the more needed parent tends to be the one to give the warning, whereas the less needed parent is free to poop as s/he pleases.
I learned that some couples have eliminated ALL boundaries, specifically in the case of one husband who likes to walk into the bathroom while his wife is showering, take a big stinky dump that overpowers the scent of her soap and shampoo, and then leave a splattered toilet bowl for her to clean after she has just cleaned herself. What a gift.
I learned that some people don’t just communicate about their own Number Twos, but they give detailed reports on the state of their kids’ poos.
Chris: Did he go?
Pat: Yeah. It was a little loose.
Chris: What color was it?
Pat: Yellowish brown.
Chris: More yellow or more brown?
Pat: I don’t know… tan?
Chris: Call me in before you flush the next one. I want to see it.
Pat: Copy that.
Chris: Over and out.
Whatever your style, regarding your own bowel movements or those of your children, it’s a good idea to check in with your partner to find out whether they would prefer more or less communication. In our case, we’re happy with the reporting system that has evolved, but I sensed tension in some of the responses I got when I polled my friends. I’m no marriage counselor, but a request for a poop warning doesn’t seem unreasonable, and everyone deserves to have an unsullied shower. However, if you prefer to keep the mystery alive, by all means do so. I really don’t give a shit.