Forget bedroom politics; forget cleaning duty—one of the great debates of modern communal living is the correct positioning of the toilet seat (and by communal living, I simply mean people who share a bathroom).
I grew up with sisters, and while we only had one bathroom for the five of us until I was 7, after that I didn’t have to share a bathroom regularly with a man for almost 20 years. At which point, I experienced that bane of women everywhere — unexpected, intimate contact between one’s bare bum and a cold, sticky porcelain rim.
Women have told me they’ve actually fallen into the commode when squatting in the dark, but I’m not sure how this happens. My ass wouldn’t fit into a toilet bowl without a shoehorn.
As it was, lavatory etiquette training with male roommates didn’t work for me until I started shacking up with Enviro-spouse. Initially, he didn’t get it either (he grew up with brothers). But after many nights of being awoken by ear-piercing squeals when my heiney hit the rim (which reduced my desire for other intimacies), he got the memo.
Now I’m trying to train my son. Which isn’t going well. My midnight shrieks of horror don’t awaken him. And I can’t play the intimacy card.
I thought if the boy were trained from birth, seat positioning would be a non-issue. But he’s male. Testosterone must make lowering seats feel like a huge imposition.
While I’ve considered shock-collar training, I realize I’d have to actually catch the kid in the act of leaving the seat up (that’s a joke, people. I know shock-collar training is inhumane). When I find the seat in the up position, I explain to him that toilets have lids on them so you can close them — all the way. Then you don’t accidentally drop your toothbrush in them or freak out your already sleep-deprived mother.
I also remind my son that he can sit down. Most boys are potty-trained by sitting, but there’s this transformation that occurs when they turn 4 or 5. Sadly, they decide that it’s more fun to stand and swing that hose around. They’re also emulating the adult males in their lives.
My boy’s training has been further stymied by the fact that many public toilets, including the ones at school, don’t have lids. I don’t know if this is an expense issue or from fear that a first-grader will pee ON the lid, but it grosses me out. I once read that flushing can splatter tiny droplets of dirty toilet water up to three feet away.
Thus, I’ve become this schizoid person who opens the stall door, stretches backwards like a contortionist and mashes the flush lever while trying to sprint away from the public toilet before the splatter gets me. Let’s not even talk about the now ubiquitous automatic flushers, which are impossible to escape unless you’re willing to flee the stall with your pants around your knees.
But back to testosterone and toilets. I realize that some men think it’s unmanly for their brethren to sit down to pee. But I think it’s a damn good idea. Then this whole ridiculous debate would disappear.
Guys, if you can’t put the lid on it, sit down. And if you’re going to allow other macho types to emasculate you for sitting, you’ve got bigger issues to deal with.
Sitting also would take care of the urine splatter problem. As the spouse and mother of humans who pee through a flexible tube, I can vouch for their bad aim, particularly in the middle of the night. While I’m pushing for men to sit all the time, at least they can do it at night when they’re confused and disoriented and light only makes them squint, further decreasing their ability to point and shoot.
All we ask, guys, is that if you’re going to insist on standing, playing with your pipe and leaving a mess behind, just close the lid afterward. Us girls will do the same, so it’s equitable — then everybody has to lift something before letting loose. Otherwise, sit your ass down on that throne.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.