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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Why is a 5 year old acting more childish than my potty trained 3 year old twins? If my girls tried a trick like that, like Admin, they would be walloped before getting into the bathroom. Surely a 5 year old is old enough to know when to go and that sometimes you have to wait. Shame on Dad for his lack of manners and for egging his daughter on.
This wasn’t SO bad until the father started on you!! Good grief. The little girl needs manners, but I can understand her real terror of peeing her pants (especially if she thought she was going to be punished for it.) But there is absolutely no excuse for that from the father. Unless you’re a member of a SWAT team or there’s a felony going on behind said closed door or something, there’s really no excuse to bang on it!
Sadly it seems like this boor never learned a basic social concept: Wait Your Turn. And it seems like his daughter hasn’t learned it from him either- nor will she, if his behaviour is anything to go by. Sad.
If the child really was about five and not, say, three- she could probably do with a parental talk about not waiting until you’re absolutely desperate, as the admin pointed out. But it’s hardly etiquette for YOU to give that lecture, so I guess it’s a moot point.
I once had that happen in a public bathroom. There were several stalls but for some mine was the one that the little girl decided to bang on. The kicker was that her mother was standing there and gave me a dirty look when I came out. I just said in as lighthearted a way as I could manage, “I’m sorry dear but you’d better get used to waiting your turn.”
While this is not etiquette-related, let me add something that my experience in the education of children has taught me. You were wise not to allow the child in the bathroom with you at the same time. In a world rampant with negative presumptions, false accusations, and lawsuit-happiness, it is best to avoid putting yourself in any situation where you might be wrongly scrutinized. Especially in this instance where the child and her father are practically strangers to you.
The child was 5? By age 5, if they don’t have any underlying health issues, they should know how to hold it and wait. When my daughter was first toilet trained, at almost 3 years old, she had problems holding and waiting, so if we knew we’d be in a position of having to stand in line for a bathroom, we’d just put a pair of pull-ups over her underwear, so if she couldn’t hold it, the mess was very minimal. We’d give her a small treat, though, if she was able to go to the bathroom and keep her pull-ups dry. She learned early on the lesson the EHell Dame learned – if you need to go, go right away, because you may have a line for the bathroom.
To me, the father was the rudest one in this story. The child was being rude, but the father absolutely should not have condoned her behavior
You did nothing wrong, but children cannot be expected to be Etiquettelly Correct 100% of the time.
A compromise might have been to finish up with the toilet, then open the door for the child while you wash your hands and leave it open until you leave. If she is really desparate, she’ll just come on in, perhaps with her father. If not, then she’ll see you just need a few more seconds. There’s no reason why your hand washing had to be done in strict privacy.
If you leave the door open while you finish your hand washing, no one can accuse you of doing anything improper with the child. Besides, her father was right there with her.
Another alternative might have been to leave the room without washing hands, then beeline to the kitchen sink to complete that task. (Depends on the geography of the house, but that could work.)
Dad’s raising an entitled little princess. We will hear about her again in a few years. Isn’t she going to be a treat as a roommate?
Has anyone here ever seen this STFU, Parents blog? This story really belongs on there…..along with the one from a few months ago about the dad who insisted that the submitter give her phone to his daughter (a total stranger) so that she could play a game on it.
As a new parent of a five-month-old, I’m really sensitive to the fact that there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who think that having children entitles them to behave like in a completely unacceptable manner in the name of parenthood. This dad appears to be one of them. Previous posters are right that by the age of five the girl should be able to hold it for a few minutes, but even if she absolutely couldn’t, the dad had a myriad of other options for how to handle the fact that his daughter had to use the one available bathroom, which was occupied.
He had a great opportunity to use this as a teachable moment and model good manners for his daughter, but unfortunately for her, if this is the example she’s growing up with she’s likely to grow up to be just as rude and off-putting in her behavior as he is.
“Little children can’t wait, you know.”
If she has a weak bladder, she should have gone earlier. If her dad knows she has a weak bladder, he should have taken her to the toilet sooner. To act like it’s someone else’s fault that they also have a functioning bladder is just wrong. I blame the dad in this instance!
That reminds me of when my husband was running a half-marathon a few years ago. The race was about to begin, and therefore the lineup for the porta potties was very long. I desperately needed to go, but because I wasn’t running myself, I was prepared to be a good sport about letting runners go ahead of me. However, there was a mother who took the cake. She tapped on the shoulder of the women standing behind me and said “Can my son go ahead of you? He really has to go.” The women said politely “Actually, so do we.” “But he’s about to run.” “So are we.” “But …” They finally gave up and said “FINE, go ahead.” I let her go ahead of me as well, for the reason I mentioned. Honestly, though – what made that mother think that her son’s needs were so special that he shouldn’t have to wait in line like everyone else?
My thought is that the storyteller didn’t do anything wrong, but truth be told if I was occupying the only bathroom at a party I’d have left and washed my hands in the kitchen sink instead, or done as the teller thought and let her in early. Washing hands is a requirement after using the facilities but it’s not required to do it in the bathroom sink if there’s a line, and while the child was rude she was also five and so she can be forgiven a bit. I’d just take a tissue or piece of TP in hand to keep from spreading germs and gone to the kitchen instead.
Of course, none of this excuses the father who was a complete boor.
This just reminded me of a time I was a museum that catered to children. When I came out of the Ladies’ room, there was a teacher with a group of about 15 little boys (maybe around 5), lining up to go into the men’s room. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the little boys was holding onto himself while doing the pee pee dance. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, but the poor teacher was at the end of her rope!
Sounds like daddy needs to learn some potty etiquette too!
The father was the evil character in this story. He had absolutley no right to demand that you exit the bathroom immediately. He should have had enough sense to know that when there is one bathroom for a party everyone needs to wait their turn and that sometimes (although this wasn’t the case in this story) bathroom use can’t be postponed or shortened. He should have calmly told his daughter that she needed to wait and like the Admin stated gently knocked on the door to determine that a person was in there and that everything was alright. He should have then informed his daughter of proper bathroom etiquette.
I can somewhat understand the child’s desperation. It isn’t right but it is a bit understandable. The father on the other hand…as soon as I heard him bang and tell me to come out I’m sure I would have felt a bit of a stomachache come on…
I actually don’t mind a small child cutting ahead in a line for a bathroom if it’s an emergency, especially if you are somewhere where bathrooms are few and far between, because what starts as the initial need to go can become an emergency by the time you get to the bathroom (e.g. recently we were on a flight, and my child needed to go after the seatbelt lights were turned on for landing. So he waited. Then, after we landed, the flight attendants wouldn’t let him use the washroom because the water had been turned off. Then the airport was so huge, it was at least five minutes until we found the bathroom. And sure enough, he couldn’t quite make it in time.). I also think a knock and a comment about the emergency is okay, because some people do dawdle in the bathroom — read a book, wash their hands, check their teeth, brush their hair, look through the cabinets. But really, if someone is using the washroom for its intended purpose, how on earth are they going to “come out NOW?”
You were in there first, and you were already going as fast as you could, what else did he expect??
Sarah Jane- you are absolutely right.
I feel bad for the poor kid — and it in fact is common for children that age and even older to wait until the last possible moment to go to bathroom, since their planning and time management skills are rudimentary at best. It is parents’ responsibility to help them develop those skills. The father was being rude due to misplaced anger at the nearest and most convenient target, the LW. His real shame was not looking out for his daughter and/or teaching her well.
Just wanted to chime in that in the original post, it was stated that the child was “about five years old”. At that age, children really do vary in appearance and in maturity — some three year olds can look (and act) like they are five (and vice versa). (At that age, my children had friends who looked several years older than they actually were.) I’m willing to give the child the benefit of the doubt that she was younger than she may have appeared. (That’s not to say that she or her dad had good manners, though.)
The dad in this case was very rude.
OP did nothing wrong, even with washing her hands which doesn’t take that long. In this day and age, no way would I open the door and let a child I didn’t know into the bathroom with me. And there was no reason that you couldn’t finish washing your hands in the bathroom–you did not have to leave and go wash your hands in the sink.
Sounds like the child needs to learn some manners!
Not all kids potty train at the same rate; some kids at 5 are still struggling, especially in highly stimulating environments such as parties, and *especially* if it’s not in their own home. But if the facilities are occupied, the child has to learn to wait. If an accident results, then that will be a good lesson to the child. (And if it’s anything like my kids, it will take quite a few of these.) Is it inconvenient to the parent? Yes, but that’s true of most things in parenting. A wise parent has emergency pants on hand for any outing, and will deal with the problem discreetly.
In response to those suggesting the OP could have opened the door for the child before washing her hands or left to wash them in the kitchen – remind me not to touch the doorknobs in your house.
Ugh. My friend’s oldest (now 5) does this, and she simply *will not* entertain discussion on why it’s inappropriate for him to spend every moment that he waits for a bathroom banging on the door. I’ve learned that she and I just have very different ideas about parenting and childhood, and I’ll have to content myself with the fact that my son will grow up to be a functional adult and contributing member of society while her boys will get older and wonder why everyone is just so darned mean and selfish and unwilling to bend over backward for them.
It maybe it’s just me but the thought of someone washing their hands in my kitchen sink after using the bathroom is disgusting to me. What would the OP have done if the sink in the kitchen was occupied with clean dishes or food. I think she did the right thing and the father should be teaching his daughter to go she first feels the urge or wait her turn.
I think the daughter is simply modeling the behavior her father has taught her. If she has a weak bladder, I am certain they make diapers in the size that she needs so that she is not embarrassed at parties. Many older women with faulty bladders wear pads just for that reason.
It reminds me of the time I was in line at a grocery store. A little girl, perhaps aged five or six, cut in in front of me, turned to me and yelled, “Hey! I need gum!” I gave her my school-teacher look and said, “My name is not Hey!”. Her look of complete puzzlement told me that she had never learned that one says, ‘Excuse me, could you help me? I would like some gum and cannot reach it.”Another woman in line rushed over to get her what she demanded. I can’t wait until she becomes a bride and really feels entitled.
I think the OP was perfectly fine to wash her hands in the bathroom sink without letting the girl in, or moving to the kitchen sink. Letting the girl in would probably just slow down the whole process (she might get in the way, or need help, or freak out at the OP, who knows), and moving to the kitchen would mean the OP’s germy bathroom hands would get on things (doorknob, kitchen tap, etc). Not that I think you’re overly germy or anything, OP 🙂
A quick hand wash shouldn’t make a huge difference in the timing and it’s reasonable use of the washroom, in my opinion.
I’ve seen this behavior from parents at my work- I teach baby music classes, and we give out hand stamps at the end of each class for all of the babies over 16 months. Usual policy is that when there are a lot of kids waiting for stamps, we give two to each kid until after everyone has gotten their 2, and then we will do extras. In my mind, it’s not fair to keep the last kid waiting because every other kid wants 17 stamps. Well, within a few weeks of starting my job I had a father literally yell at me because he didn’t want to wait for his daughter to get extra stamps (She already had her 2.) The girl is waiting patiently but the Dad starts in on me about how its cruel of me to make her wait her turn and she’s only 2 and all sorts of other crap. Same parent also made a complaint that I was too strict in passing out instruments (most likely because I have a limited amount of instruments, enough for everyone to get one or two, but if some kid wants 6 there is not enough for everyone else.) Some parents seem to think that having a kid is just a magic token that gets them whatever they want. Well sorry buddy, it’s not like that. You either wait for everyone else to get stamps so your daughter can get extra stamps, or you tell her, ok baby we have our two stamps and now its time to go. Kids can deal with waiting, and they can certainly deal with the **CRUSHING** disappointment of only having two stamps or two maracas. Don’t project your impatience and neediness on to your kids or they will absorb it and turn out just like you.
I’m with everyone else in calling the Dad the bad guy. He didn’t teach her that she’d better plan ahead, that it was impolite to bang on the door, and that it’s ok to glare and yell at someone who stands between you and your wishes. All parents need to teach their children that an emergency on their part doesn’t make an emergency on the part of others. Luck favors the prepared.
You have to love parents who self righteously believe that their children’s comfort and happiness is the most important thing, always, and who teach their children the art of entitlement. I have three children, one of whom had ongoing kidney and bladder issues at a young age ( resulting in surgery) and none of them would have DREAMED of acting this way. And as the parent, nor would I. Unreal.
All of those advocating opening the door and then washing your hands, or leaving to wash your hands elsewhere – why bother? Once you touch the door with your unwashed hands, handwashing becomes futile for all.
Wow, if I were behind a closed door and someone I didn’t know was in there banging on the door and bellowing, “Whoever’s in there, come out now!” you’d better be the police — and have a really good reason for requesting my immediate presence.
But then, my children were taught pretty early on that banging on a closed bathroom door meant that Mommy would take her time about coming out, while a polite knock and a polite “Mommy?” query would bring an immediate response, if only in the form of, “I’ll be right out.”
Which the OP had already given to the child, despite the banging.
The whole subject of trying to communicate anything to anyone in a bathroom for any reason strikes me as icky. I had once arrived at the home of a friend along with others. I asked for the bathroom and had entered. One of the group, not the hostess, followed me to the bathroom door and asked through it if I wanted a beer.
Me: I’ll just be a moment.
Him: Yeah, but do you want a beer?
Me: (Waiting a long moment and unwilling to unzip my jeans until I was sure he’d gone from the door,) I’ll just be a moment.
Him: Shall I get you a beer?
Me: (Nothing, not moving.)
We could have gone on like that for a while, but I did hear him called away. I can only think that he thought it polite to have that conversation with me while listening to me pee.
This reminded me of an event I saw recently at work. I work in a clothing shop, and technically we’re not required to have a toilet – in our country, you only have to provide bathroom facilities if you sell food and drink, which we don’t, but we do provide a toilet – just one.
I was tidying the children’s department, which is the department next to our customer toilet, and aware of a woman with two young children, one in a pushchair but looked to be a toddler, the other slightly older – I would say approximately four or five years old. The older girl told her mother she needed the toilet, to which her mother told her she would have to wait. I did step in at that point and say ‘if you werent aware, our customer toilet is just over in that alcove’ and the woman told me she knew. I continued tidying the section, and for about five minutes all I could hear was ‘Mummy I need a wee’ – which was frustrating to me, because it was very repeatative and could have been easily dealt with. After five minutes or so, the mother takes her over to the toilet – which is now occupied. The child is desperate at this point, and the mother turned me and said ‘why is there just one toilet, that’s ridiculous – can she use your staff toilet?’
The answer to which is no. I’m sure lots of people hear will not approve, but it’s actually a liability issue, we’re not insured to have customers in our staff area. If she, or her mother, or her younger sibling (because I can’t take the child on my own, they’d all have to come through and I’d have to wait with them) had any sort of accident, we’d be in a lot of trouble.
When I said I couldnt take her through, the mother got quite snarky with me – but all I could think was why not take her immediately to the toilet that was there, as opposed to waiting till the little girl was desperate and then complaining about the lack of facilities?!
This column should have been titled “Playing the ‘little kid’ trump card.”
Parents who use the fact that they have a little kid as an excuse for rude behavior that inconveniences everyone else.
Playing this card in the bathroom line might have some justification, but as admin noted, there are ways of doing it politely. And it’s also true that as a parent, there sometimes comes a point where your child may need to learn the hard way that putting off his/her body’s needs until the last possible second isn’t the best idea. Some kids aren’t going to learn to plan ahead any other way. (Which is why smart parents tote around an emergency change of clothes while their children are in this vulnerable semi-pottty-trained stage.)
What’s also true is that some adults are lucky enough to have never had to deal with any physical condition that might require what others consider an awfully long time to get business done. Young people in particular aren’t likely to have had to deal with these issues, and may indeed be blissfully unaware that such conditions can exist. Whatever, I cannot understand why any reasonably sensible adult would ever assume that someone who is using the bathroom for an apparently extended time is doing so just to be selfish. Enough said.
While we’re on potty peeves, my personal pet peeve is with public restrooms where the stalls aren’t big enough for a mother who has to be in the stall with a small child to have room to turn around (literally). For crying out loud! I know that in a commercial building, floor space is money. But I do believe that in places where mothers are likely to take children who are young enough to require assistance, the bathroom stalls should be big enough so you can stay with your child without the two of you being squished.
I agree with delislice: the only people who should be banging on the door like that with a demand for it to be opened up right away, is the police.
Potty trained or not, if the child or adult can not hold it long enough for me to finish up in the bathroom or the only avaliable stall, then that is not my problem to begin with. They should learn to wait their turn and then use it.
I could understand the Father’s behaviour if he thought there were children in the bathroom goofing around and wasting time, but obviously he wasn’t embarassed in the least when the door opened and an adult emerged.
I’m not defending the father’s actions (he was pretty rude), but I’d just like to point out that he was acting on the child’s claim “there’s someone in there and they won’t let me in”. If my child had said that to me, my assumption would be that other children were playing in there and deliberately not letting her in (I wouldn’t have acted so ridiculously on that assumption, however). Anyway, I was just wondering if the father could have been painted a different picture on his side of the door? (he was still being stupid on challenging the OP when se came out, though, of course).
To the many posters who commented about touching the doorknob or kitchen tap with germy hands, see my comment above about a tissue or bit of TP to solve that problem. That part’s not hard to deal with. As to one person who asked about what to do if the kitchen sink is occupied, she could simply return to the bathroom. Please note that none of this is required by etiquette, but it seems a small effort to kindness to help out a kid who’s young enough to be forgiven the lapse.
The only thing that really struck me about this story (besides the obvious) was how can someone only have 1 bathroom in a house that could have a party large enough where the OP and the dad didn’t cross paths the rest of the night? Those things have to be taken into consideration when hosting parties.
ADMIN – I wonder if there is an actual number of people per potties ratio where a host would know how many potties need provided, especially at longer events/parties?
I agree that the father was rude, and the daughter didn’t behave appropriately either, but could we please have a moratorium on comments about the daughter growing up to be an entitled princess, or a bad roommate, or whatever? She’s five years old……actually, we’re not even sure she’s five; as some posters pointed out, she may only be three or four, but look older. Yes, I know that some people may argue that she could be a younger-looking six-or-seven-year-old, but either way, she’s not close to being grown up, so there’s plenty of time for her to grow, change, mature, and learn life lessons, like waiting one’s turn. I was five years old once too, and I’d hate to think that people automatically assumed that I’d grow up to be a brat because I acted like a little kid, when I was a little kid. I also don’t like the idea that it’s okay to “swat” or “wallop” small children for non-etiquettely-correct-but-developmentally-appropriate behaviour.
I have a few bladder conditions /back diseases. I have a card that explains my cond. ition to show you someone if I need to go and I get stuck in a mess. It explains and. asks if I can go ahead. I have only used it twice in twelve years. I can go from fine to dire emergency in a split second. So in some cases going ahead of time doesn’t always help. Also special needs kids may not be totally trained yet at four and five. Now that said-the father was way out of line. I would have ended up in E-Hell on this one. And if this is an indicator of how he always is he will be wondering why little darling got arrested because someone would not let her do something and she did it and it was an action that results in handcuffs. If you might run into them again at friends house carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
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Daddy gives the rest of us parents a black eye. If youngest
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I would have ended up in Ehell if I was the OP – I’d have said to the dad, angrily, “What did you think I was doing in there – reading a book?!”
Also, the reason that posters are lamenting that the litle girl will grow up to be an entitled princess is not because she is acting like a child – all children act that way sometimes. The reason is because of her dad’s reaction – the ‘how dare you not give my child what she wants, immediately!” THAT, if it happens a lot , will impact her personality as she gets older
Michele, I’d have been right next to you in Ehell…
When dad started pounding on the door & yelling, I’d have been tempted to yell back, “Can I at least pull up my pants first?”
Hello, I’m the OP. Thank you for your comments.
To Hannahere, who wondered about the house only having one bathroom and lots of guests:
The party was held in an old terraced house in London and had, at that point, not been modernised. That also meant that there were lots of little rooms with people spread throughout. In addition, because it was a beautiful Summer’s afternoon/early evening, many of the guests were out in the garden, especially those with children. My hay fever kept me indoors.
I agree that both the father and the daughter were rude, but I’m hesitant to A) tar the daughter with the same brush that I’d use for a child who was screaming for a Popsicle, or a Bratz doll, or something else that’s non-essential, and B) judge the father as “incompetent” or prophesize that the daughter’s going to grow up to be an entitled brat, based on this one incident. I think that what probably happened was, the daughter got distracted playing, and waited too long to find a bathroom, and the father panicked too, and got a bit of tunnel vision. Also, given the size of the house, they probably both assumed that there was another bathroom in the house–and, maybe there was, but it just wasn’t in the “party area.” Maybe it was upstairs, on the same floor as the bedrooms, or adjacent to the master bedroom, or in some other part of the house that the hosts just decided to make “off limits” to the guests. In that case, I’d shift some of the blame to the hosts, for not providing enough bathroom facilities to reasonably accommodate all of their guests.
I’ve endured PA comments from dads with kids outside public washrooms. This one time in particular, I went into the single occupancy washroom of a coffee shop (yes I was buying something) and discovered that Mother Nature was making her monthly visit with a vengeance and I had some major cleaning up to do. It was also winter and a lot of clothing to deal with. I was in there for maybe 5-7 minutes, but I could hear a child whining outside and a man saying to his small child, “What the hell’s she DOING in there?” He had to have known I could hear through the door. Like, what did he think, I was hanging out in there for the sheer joy of it? And, how nice for him that HE would never need to experience for himself “what I was doing in there.”
While we’re on the subject of potty etiquette, I am cheered by the regularity with which, when there’s a long line of women waiting in the public women’s room, as a group and without prior discussion we are all happy to let a pregnant woman go right to the head of the line. Go, sisterhood!
A 5 year old is still learning how to behave depedning on what she/he has learnt so far. For example the child might have been really concerned about wetting herself at a host’s house – but she can still learn about how to wait her turn, as well as not leaving it too late. I think the father was shocking. He should have explained to the child that she has to wait and not leaving it too late.
I remember once being at a county show and there was a long queue for the toliets. The disabled toliet was free and someone pointed them out to a mother with children. The mother queried it but as there was no disabled person using them at the time the woman who suggested it said “children can’t wait” besides they were starting to do the “pee dance” as well.