Toilets are, in most Western societies, places of privacy, of tranquility, a way to shut out the world for a few minutes and let the mind wander. Or, if you are a proud owner of a smartphone, to cultivatedly check the news and your emails. A safe place to retreat.
That changes as soon as you stay at home with a baby. I have used all kinds of toilets – clean ones, dirty ones (unfortunately sometimes one doesn’t have a choice), with toilet paper, with a water bucket to splash your backside, toilets to stand on, toilets where the toilet bowl is also used as sink to wash your hands (funnily enough, that’s the common public toilet in Switzerland), tree trunks, holes in the ground above which you shower as well or simply a small hole in the corner of a family living room. I used to feel very uncomfortable if I wasn’t able to lock the toilet. But with proceeding age, you care less and less. And as soon as you have a baby, you are forced to give up even the last bit of reservation.
There are four scenarios right now which I face when I have to go to the loo. Naturally, all of them involve an open door. Otherwise you can’t see or hear what is happening and that is deeply disturbing!
Scenario 1: You just have to go to the loo very quickly. So you leave the baby in the kitchen or the living room, trusting that it won’t break anything within the next 60 seconds. As soon as you placed yourself on the toilet, you can hear a shuffling sound and small hands on the floor and you see a shadow coming closer to the bathroom. After 30 seconds, the baby looks around the corner with a big smile on its face. Because obviously you are playing hide and seek! Makes it a bit hard to concentrate, but it’s so adorable!
Scenario 2: You place the baby right in front of the open bathroom door so that you can keep an eye on it. The baby is happy and in a good mood and as it loves to watch you on the toilet, it starts laughing and applauding enthusiastically. Might bother you if you like to have some private time, but actually, it is really heartwarming. Who else would applaud you on the toilet?
Scenario 3: Again, you place the baby right in front of the open bathroom door in order to keep an eye on it. But the baby is in explorer mode and immediately starts to crawl into the bathroom. You are already sitting on the toilet, so while you stay seated you have to try your best to keep the baby away from a) the rubbish bin, b) the toilet brush, c) the washing powder and d) the shower sink, which is in this flat directly next to the toilet on the ground and can easily be removed, exposing a big, scary entry to the drain… Not an easy task, but still manageable with a little bit of practice.
Scenario 4: See scenarios 2 and 3….place the baby right in front of the open bathroom door. The baby is again in explorer mode. But this time, it doesn’t want to join you in the bathroom, but finds something even more interesting out of your sight. So it crawls away and you know exactly that it is probably taking the chance to go after one of the things you always forbid to touch (the loose internet modem installed ca 30 cms above the ground. The dirty wheels of the stroller. Your muddy shoes. Or the trash bin with the diapers). This is normally the case when you actually have to spend a little more time on the toilet. So you start shouting “Noo! Nooo! Come back! Now! Stop it!” and all you hear are little cries of joy, because for your baby “no” is a synonym of having some fun. This situation is the least restful of all. You quickly think of the good old times when your toilet was your place of retreat. And then you probably decide that, for the sake of the baby’s health (and your internet connection), it is better to postpone your need until your partner comes home.