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Potty Training Means So Much More Than Teaching A Child Where To “Go”

I was at a house party and during the course of the evening I had to use the bathroom. Mindful that there was only one bathroom and a lot of people at the party, I knew it would be impolite to linger but that was not going to be a problem because I only needed to pee. I had just sat down on the toilet when a child started banging on the door outside, and I mean banging, not tapping or knocking, and shouting, “Let me in! I need to go!” I was a bit taken aback but I’m a mum and I know that kids sometimes get taken short so I understood. I called back, “I won’t be long!”, but nature won’t be rushed so it took as long as it took (a couple of minutes at the outside). She continued to bang on the door.

I did consider letting her in before I washed my hands because she sounded so desperate, but I was concerned that she might not want to go if a stranger was in the room, even if I did have my back to her (and it was a big bathroom), so, since hand washing after using the toilet is non negotiable, I got on with it. Then I heard her say, “Daddy, there’s someone in there and they won’t let me in”, followed closely by a man’s loud voice, stating, “Whoever’s in there, come out now!”, accompanied by him banging on the door.

Now I was annoyed! I finished drying my hands and opened the door. Before I could walk through it, the girl, who was about five years old, dashed in and the father, glaring at me, rebuked me with, “Little children can’t wait, you know”, as if I should have known better and was deliberately at fault. I was so astonished that I couldn’t think of anything to say so I just stared at him, probably with, “What the …?”, written all over my face, and then went back to the party. Our paths did not cross at the party later so I was saved from my own spot in EHell by my initial speechlessness.  (I should add that both father and daughter were strangers to me. The party hostess was a mutual friend.) 0224-12

This story brings up a very old memory of mine when I, at the tender age of 4, needed to use a solitary bathroom as well.  I did the “hold off the pee pee” dance while banging on the door.   The adult family member exiting the bathroom promptly swatted my backside and made it quite clear that demonstrations like that were not appropriate.   It certainly facilitated my awareness of the need to use a bathroom earlier rather than later (having chosen to ignore the initial calls of nature to play longer outside). At some point children do need to learn potty etiquette, i.e. how to wait your turn to use one, not to overextend one’s stay, the need to wash hands, perhaps to even tidy up after your use and leave it clean for the next person.

Faced with the potential of a catastrophic pee pee failure, Dad lashed out at the best target he had – the evil person legitimately using the bathroom his daughter desperately needed.   It was unfortunate and rude for him to shout a demand that the person occupying the bathroom must exit immediately.  He should have stopped his daughter’s tantrum, knocked lightly on the door himself and having ascertained that you were alive in the bathroom and aware that his daughter needed to use it, he should have waited until the bathroom was available.


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  • Enna March 1, 2012, 10:17 am

    p.s I was at an optitians once and one lady asked nicely but despratly if her child could use the toliet, the staff were good and let her though to the staff toliet but the Mum was VERY strict “don’t go now! Wait until we go to the toliet!”

  • Laura June 14, 2012, 8:48 pm

    ““Whoever’s in there, come out now!”, accompanied by him banging on the door.”

    How rude. It could have been the host in there that he’d yelled at, imagine telling off the person who had invited you into their home for hogging their own bathroom.

  • erica September 10, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Goodness what were you supposed to do? Stop mid stream and then hustle the little girl in?

    What a rude dad!