Good Girls Don’t Crap

– Posted in: Crazy Tammy, Elfie, Family, Mawage, Parenting, Personal Insanity

Okay, confession time. And this is kind of a weird one, so if you’re one of my guy friends in particular, you may just want to stop reading here.

Seriously.

So Elfie, my 6-year-old daughter, started camp this week, and she’s kind of freaking out. The place has one bathroom where all the girls change clothes and do their “business” at the same time (apparently because everyone’s on some sort of intense summertime schedule that doesn’t allow for individual bathroom breaks). This all happens in one over-sized, household bathroom. It’s not an institutional-type, multi-stall situation. There’s one toilet, right there in the open. Kind of like. . . prison.

We’ve attempted to raise the kids to be comfortable with their bodies. We’ve always called our home “The Naked House” because we aren’t what you’d call door-closing robe-grabbers. The idea was to make them understand that the human body is just that — a body. Everyone is naked under their clothes. And apparently that. . . didn’t work. Elfie was extremely uncomfortable about getting undressed in front of a bunch of kids she’d never met before. The thing is, as much as I want her to feel secure about herself, I can’t say this doesn’t make me sort of happy. There’s just such a fine line between modesty and, well, let me get to that.

So last night, Elfie and I end up talking about the fact that she doesn’t like (in fact she pretty much actively avoids) going to the bathroom when anyone else is around. She’s had accidents at school because she doesn’t want anyone else to be in the bathroom to “hear” her. And all I can say to her is, “Have you ever heard that saying about the sins of the father. . . never mind, probably not.”

Anyway, I go on to tell her that I completely understand. That there’s no way I could go to the bathroom in a room full of other women. Sure, I could pee with a bunch of my friends, but take a crap with a bunch of strangers? Hell no. And then I tell her that it would be a really, really good idea to try to get over the whole “Not able to go in a stall” thing. Because otherwise, life will be pretty rough.

But what I needed to tell her was this: the reason she’s bathroom crazy is because her mother is completely nutso. See, my mom was very discrete. Back then you called it “ladylike.” She certainly didn’t go around farting like my dad did. So if I put on my junior psychologist’s cap and take a wild stab at this, I’m gonna say I did some gender association and came to this basic conclusion: good girls don’t crap.

Of course, junior high and high school just reinforced this idea. It’s such a detail-oriented, under-the-microscope time of life (that sure was fun and relaxing). I remember accidentally farting in front of a guy I liked — I doubt he even heard it because we were outside and it was so insignificant — but I just about wanted to jump off the second story balcony that we were on at the time. Ah memories. . .

But I never really thought about how much effort I put into hiding the fact that I pooped like everyone else until my grad-school boyfriend said, “You never go to the bathroom.” To which I said incredulously, “What? Of course I do.” He started to say something but ended up dropping the subject. I knew exactly where he was going. We spent the night together all the time. He practically lived with me for long stretches. And yet. . .

But the fact was, the guy I was with before him — who I’d even considered marrying — hadn’t gotten admission to that movie. I sure as hell wasn’t going to let my summer fling sneak in the side door.

And it was a crazy movie. I didn’t like the idea of anyone hearing or smelling anything I’d done. I stressed over having roommates and thought about when they were going to be home. I took showers that I didn’t really need to take so that I could run the water. I even just waited and used public restrooms because in there I was “anonymous.”

This was all complicated by the fact that I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Yeah. So add on self-conscious about unpredictable diarrhea. Actually, this could explain a lot (like how I became an expert at the mercy flush, for instance). Because, really, what’s more attractive when you’re dating. . .

Anyway, this went on for years, and then one day, I met this woman. She was cute and cool and funny. And when we went into the bathroom at work one day, she said, “Oh, I have to poop.” And then she talked to me from inside the stall.

Now you’d think that after 24 years of female friends, relatives, and roommates this kind of thing would’ve happened, but it hadn’t. This was groundbreaking. This was a woman who was so secure with herself that she could poop in your presence. This was. . . awesome.

I started dating my now-husband that same year. He’s the first guy I ever felt comfortable farting or pooping in front of. I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve become some perfectly secure person who doesn’t still think about all of this crap (okay, ha ha). I think some neuroses never die, they just wait quietly in the corner. I try to think of it like this — after you’ve pooped on a delivery table, can it get worse? But I’m an unrelenting skeptic — there has to be some social indignity still out there to suffer.

So the long (very long) and short of it is, I’ve screwed up the girl. I’ve always thought that we joked about this sort of stuff in front of the kids enough to make them feel comfortable, but I guess actions are speaking louder than words.

It would be so convenient to be able to cover up our insecurities with a blanket and forget they’re there. But the children keep finding flashlights and searching under and through everything like little archaeologists. They hunt you down relentlessly. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

And we all know locking yourself in the bathroom doesn’t do a damn bit of good.



*Epilogue
I spoke with a counselor at Elfie’s camp, and she assured me that they do NOT encourage the kids to relieve themselves while in a group. They’re given time before and after changing to use the bathroom privately. And they can lock the door when it isn’t changing time. There’s also a second bathroom up by the pool (which, after grilling Elfie, I’ve realized she doesn’t like to use because it starts to get kind of gross as the day goes along — probably due to multiple wet butts, dropped/wet toilet paper, etc.).

The counselor said she’d make all of this clear to the kids, but I got a slight bit of an eye roll. This isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with the clothes changing/bathroom issue — we actually got kicked out two years ago because Elfie couldn’t get dressed and pee quickly enough. So I’m thinking a) my kid really is a problem, b) these people have kind of pegged her and are consciously or unconsciously giving her a rough time, or c) because they see her as a problem, she’s gotten stressed out and has actually become a problem. To be continued. . .

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30 Comments… add one

Andrea June 15, 2011, 11:30 pm

Ok, since the land of tmi has officially been entered…even if I somehow managed to poop in front of another human being, there is just NO way I would be able to perform the wiping portion of the program! NO WAY! I can't imagine your daughter's situation. At least if there was a line of bowls, folks would all be in the same boat. Some days I worry that we've let too much hang out with our kids based on how loud and smelly the family room tends to get. Will they use better, or any, judgement when the opposite sex starts to come to visit? Good luck to you and your camper!

Kelly DeBie June 16, 2011, 12:10 am

Oh, I could go so many ways with this. Suffice to say that I was a, ahem, nervous pooper too until I GOT IBS. Then suddenly I got over my fear of pooping in the presence of others because I had no choice.

Like, now I can even poop in people-that-I-just-met's houses. I know, right?!?!?!

But my husband….he's worse than I ever was. And he's passed that down to at least two of the kids so far. If you see my son hauling ass to the bathroom after school, it's because he got his Dad's crazy. LOL

Melissa June 16, 2011, 12:14 am

I would just DIE if I was your daughter right now. I've been married to my best friend for almost 14 years (when did I get so OLD????) and I still never fart in front of him. We've never peed, let alone pooped in front of each other. And it's not (as I've been 'informed') that we're clearly not close or comfortable with each other.

It's just me. It's who I am. My sisters had no problem farting, prided themselves in fact, along with my father and brother. But my mother and I, not so much. I dont' know what it is. I think it's a gender thing. But I can't help it. I can't poop anywhere but my own toilet, and only if Joel's not home (isn't that even worse, because I too have IBS. If I MUST, I run the Shower too!). I sound sooo messed up now. Slinking away…..
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letmestartbysaying June 16, 2011, 12:30 am

I have never pooped in front of my husband and I have never purposely farted in front of him.
I TALK about poop all the time, and enquire about his in comparison to mine. But I don't want to sell tickets to that show, either.

if I had to crap in an open room with a bunch of strangers and then wipe and possibly even (God help me) deal with my period? Forget it. I'd build a secret outhouse somewhere near camp.
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Heidi Ayarbe June 16, 2011, 1:29 am

Okay. The fact that your daughter feels uncomfortable GOING TO THE BATHROOM in front of a roomful of kids is REASONABLE
TOTALLY
Like … absolutely. And I hardly think you have done anything to screw your daughter up. There are extremes, sure, but the camp bathroom … ONE CAMP BATHROOM … is inhuman. The fact that all these kids have to go at THE SAME TIME with no privacy IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.
You'll DEFINITELY work out the other kinks about going to the bathroom without shame in an ACCEPTABLE SETTING … like a bathroom stall. Anyway, I think you're being WAY TO HARD ON YOURSELF. Really. I'd be fuming … my ire would not be contained at this situation. Some things are personal. Should be personal. Should remain personal.

Sparkly Tiara June 16, 2011, 1:57 am

Poops Are Private. I may have that printed up on a tshirt. Or toilet paper.

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The Glad Gardener June 16, 2011, 2:55 am

OMG I did the same thing when I was young. I HATED using the bathrooms at school when I was in grade school. So much in fact that I would have accidents on my way home from school a lot until I was about 12. Embarrassing now to think about. I still hate using the restroom at work or other places when people can "hear" or "know" what I am doing in there. You are not alone.

XLMIC June 16, 2011, 4:20 am

Isn't it sad that it is all so embarrassing? I get so bummed for my kids cuz they are potty-shy. I am not, however :P
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Alison l MWT June 16, 2011, 4:51 am

No, you haven't screwed her up at all. It's normal to not be able to do what is essentially VERY PRIVATE in front of a roomful of strangers. Or even family members. I can't pee or poop in front of my husband. Actually, even in front of my toddler, it feels strangely uncomfortable (yes, I am no longer able to go to the bathroom on my own).
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Kate, WitWitWoo June 16, 2011, 9:04 am

This explains SO much about you! Lol – I kid! I kid! I love that you're not afraid to write about crap (literally) and I'm afraid I probably am the kinda girl that would quite happily take a dump whilst sat next to you. However …. just to prove I'm as weird as you ….. I can't even wee in front of the OH. Now he'd quite happily (as would my boys) take the longest, smelliest, noisiest dump whilst I'm trying (hard) to relax in the bath – me? Not so much.

You're so right about kids finding us out one way or another – if it hadn't been the 'poop' issue, it would have been something else cos … drumroll … as much as I like to think I've got it on lock, I really haven't – I merely pretend to know what I'm doing.

Take comfort in the fact that you have that kind of r.ship with Elfie where you can even discuss these things.

I really can't look at you in the same light now … all sorts of images going on …. but for me, it's a good thing – merely adds another dimension to the wonderful woman that is you :)

MultipleMum June 16, 2011, 9:31 am

The question is do good girls write about crap? It is an icky subject. I can't say I am one for public pooing but I go when I have to. I have camped my whole life so I reckon if you can 'shit in the woods' you can pretty much do it anywhere. Good luck with this aspect of your parenting – just another thing to feel guilty about I suppose?

jillsmo June 16, 2011, 6:03 pm

You SO have not screwed her up. It's one thing to be comfortable with your body but totally another to take a crap in front of a room full of people! NOBODY should feel comfortable doing that. Actually I think there's a sexual fetish for people who like that kind of thing, now THAT would be worse. Much, much worse….
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PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 6:57 pm

I've actually had terrible dreams about bathrooms with lines of open bowls! And I don't know about the opposite sex thing. It seems to all be based on personality.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 6:59 pm

I really tried SO hard to make it so the kids would be cool about going anywhere. And they seem to be when they're with me. Maybe it's a peer thing.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:10 pm

So it's NOT just a "nurture" thing. Maybe it is just the way you are. Funny because my husband made some joke the other day about it all being genetic.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:27 pm

Ok, crazy confession number 217 — sometimes I think about being in a concentration camp and how I basically wouldn't survive, due to multiple reasons, one being the bathrooms (or non-bathrooms). I know that people adapt, but seriously?

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:31 pm

Heidi, why weren't you around on the day this happened. . .

And I hope you come back and read the epilogue that I just wrote. It think things are looking up.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:32 pm

Someone on Facebook wants "Good Girls Don't Crap" on a bumper sticker. We may have to start some sort of line at Cafe Press.;)

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:46 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for telling me this. I really worry about Elfie and all of her accidents, and I try to help her figure things out without bugging her so much that it makes her completely self-conscious (doubtful). So, so good to know I'm not alone on multiple fronts.:)

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:46 pm

Can you be a marathoner who IS potty shy? That's practically impossible, right?

Desperate Housemommy June 16, 2011, 7:49 pm

Being comfortable in your own skin is not the same as being willing to drop a deuce in mixed company. So let yourself off the hook. :)

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:50 pm

When the kids were younger, we'd gotten to the point where we were so open about the bathroom at home that I started worrying they wouldn't know that they SHOULD shut the door. And it's not like my method helped anybody feel better about themselves anyway! So you might as well just shut 'em out.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:54 pm

Guys, or at least a lot of guys, seem to be so different on this subject. I saw a show the other night with a guy sitting on the pot, reading the want ads to another guy who was fixing his hair (The Bachelorette, if anyone's interested. Don't judge.). WTF?

And I'm sorry to have ruined my Grace Kelly, Madonna-like image for you. I will attempt to recapture that in the future. . . ;)

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:57 pm

It is an icky subject. I honestly hemmed and hawed about whether or not to even do it. And it's been even harder trying to FB and tweet about it. Which is difficult for me anyway because I'm so bad at writing something and then saying, "Hey, look at me! Look at me!" in the first place. And then this time, it's about crap? Fabulous.

PartlySunny June 16, 2011, 7:58 pm

Of course YOU would throw in the sexual fetish. Why didn't anyone else think of that?;)

Catherine June 17, 2011, 1:39 am

I think there's a difference between being comfortable w/ your body and being comfortable w/ every bodily function in front of others. If I were your daughter it wouldn't be a problem because I woudl simply be constipated until the moment I got home. In this age of teens sending nude photos to each other I'm happy about modesty! Some things should remain private so please don't use this to beat yourself up.

p.s. I've been married for 11 years and if we're at a hotel and I do need to 'do that' I use the bathroom in the lobby so my kids (iff I had them) would be totally screwed up!
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Amanda June 19, 2011, 4:28 pm

It was funny reading this because I've read a lot of "girls don't fart" blog posts or have discussed it with friends or whatever, but never anything about pooping. I hope your daughter grows out of it or becomes more comfortable with herself though :)

alexandra June 20, 2011, 6:11 am

All 3 of my boys are like this!

As soon as we pull into our driveway after school, they run each other over to get in through the back door to do their bidness.

Luckily, we have 4 toilets in the house.

Sheesh.

Wombat Central June 21, 2011, 3:33 am

As an adult I often think about how free and easy I was about bathroom stuff when I was younger. We always went to the bathroom together as kids and teens. Even in college I had a standing date with a floormate of mine to do have ourselves a post-dinner sit down in adjacent stalls. We had no shame. There was no embarrassment. As an adult, if I fart in a public restroom stall, I freeze. Deer in headlights. Sometimes to pee I have to cover my ears. If I can't hear the tinkling sound, neither can they. Wha??

I hope your girly moves past this without too much trauma. Poor babe. You could all go to the grocery store and hit the stalls for practice sessions! (yes, I'm nuts, apparently)
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Julia June 22, 2011, 4:33 pm

I have a tough time going to the bathroom in front of my cat, so…
We joke about it sometimes, my husband suspends disbelief that I (or his Mom) poop.
Our son has issues, but after whispering to me he needs to poop he then announces it loudly to the group. So he's growing out of it. As for me, I'm not sure I care to develop a sense of ease about going in front of or in ear shot of anyone. I think it's instinctive and not a developmental hang up.

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