Change & Decay
Some people cheerily share the details of their excretory mechanisms with the world- even strangers. And they do it without a second’s self-consciousness. Personally, I have never been like that, nor even envied them that. For some pointless reason, I’ve always tried to avoid any mention of my own loo habits or needs. I can hold pee for 5 hours and as a child I would frequently do that rather than use the loo at school or in someone’s house. I once made an hour’s journey home holding in a diarrheal dump. Instead of just using the loo at the office.
The stupid part is that its not because of my concerns about other people’s hygiene or the state of the loo or even the absence of water that prompts this behaviour. It’s the incredibly asinine mortification of people knowing I’m in the bathroom. I have this scenario in my head, that somebody –(as a child, the somebody was the headteacher or my favourite teacher. As I entered womanhood, ‘somebody’ became a cultured, intelligent hunk)- will come looking for me and they’ll shout ‘she’s shanking’. And that would just be the most embarrassing thing ever.
For this reason alone, I never respond if someone calls me while I’m in the bathroom. If I have to wash my hands or pee I hurry so I’m not gone long enough for those who know I’m there to think I’m doing number two.
When Kofi and I were dating, I never let him see me straddling a water closet. If I needed to shank I would go to the hotel next door. One time when the taps weren’t running and I woke up at 5am needing to shank, I did bum kegels till 6 when I rushed off to Osu – 10 mins drive away- to shank at Nandos. I couldn’t very well have him waking up to find my poo in his loo, could I?
Nor did marriage change this dumb practice. The whole of the first year we were married, I would only use the loo when he wasn't in our room. I told him that while lying on the delivery bed pushing Dovene out, I prayed ‘o God please don’t let me shank now, please God!’ I really did. I read that sometimes women poo from the force of that last push. I can’t imagine anything more shyous. My husband, and the kind elderly midwife standing in front of my vagina, then out comes some force-flung poo. Yuck! He said laughing, ‘you’re a fool M!’
Which brings me to the present. I live with two almost fully potty trained toddlers with impressive vocabulary. Conversations about pooing abound. And it doesn’t really matter who’s there. They’ll come up to me in public shouting ‘maman poo please’ or out of the blue one will say and the other will immediately repeat ‘maman next time say poo’. Or ‘maman go and poo’. Or worse yet ‘maman is going to poo’ as you exit the room.
All the potty training manuals and advice said to let the child know that pooing was normal by letting him see you do it, talking about your needing to poo and demonstrating that you are pooing too. ‘Dovene, Vinyo, won hwe, maman is pooing’ Such fun conversation!
You can’t then blame the kids if they warm up to the chat and proceed to include others can you? So presently topping the chart of awkward mummy moments are at number two: we’re at a party, an uncle-in-law is playing with the boys when out of the blue Dovene says loudly’ grandpa next time say poo ok’ of course everyone thinks the man had farted quietly – which in fact he hadn’t but he couldn’t possibly start explaining.
At number one : Kofi had company, work people and after playing gracious hostess for a while, I left them so they could work. The boys and I play for a while. Then I go to the loo to pee. Dovene comes in and starts shouting maman is pooing, mamma is pooing. I tried to hush him in vain. With the bathroom window practically overlooking the living room, there was no chance that the information had not been clearly communicated to the guests. I couldn’t bring myself to flush when I was done. And instead spent a long time running the tap in the sink in the hope that they would think he was just using phrases he knew. I’m convinced it worked. I refuse to consider the alternative.
Ei, ene me na me nie!