51: Toilet Talk

51: Toilet Talk

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Toilet Talk

Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.


I spend way too much time thinking about toilets. I regularly walk from bathroom to bathroom with the sole purpose of flushing toilets. I’ve decided this behavior is an outrageous form of multitasking necessary when one has young children. I flush, from time to time, while talking on the phone. My phone-friends do the same thing. We often explain to each other that we are not using the toilet, but merely flushing it. Since we all seem to be in the same absurd predicament, we take each other at our word.

Flushing isn’t just a matter of pulling the handle. It’s much more. In fact, the innocent act of flushing has gotten me into trouble on occasion, when a proud three-year-old was “saving” the toilet contents “to show Daddy when he got home.” I should have known better.

Through the years I’ve learned to look before I flush. My toilets sprout foreign, unflushable objects on occasion. Toy boats, balls, spoons, and the occasional toothbrush have all found their way into my family’s commodes. I’ve learned to handle such floating objects with the prowess of a professional plumber. In fact, I employ my own patented technique called the Speedy Super Swoop, which involves lightning-fast reflexes and lots of bleach. It’s one of those things you have to see to appreciate. Suffice it to say, no undesired items have been flushed down my toilet in at least a month or two.

In the good old days, I never gave toilets a second thought. Oh, I’d give the white porcelain a good scrub every now and then, but toilet maintenance wasn’t a huge priority.

But over the years, we’ve added little bodies (a.k.a. children) to our household, and with bodies come the need for toilets. I don’t like to stereotype, but three of the four bodies are of the male persuasion. It’s not that boys are inherently untidy around toilets; they just have farther to aim.

My three-year-old (who refuses any assistance with the commode) routinely announces, “Mom, I sprayed all over.”

Believe me, he isn’t exaggerating.

The two older boys (three if you count my husband) also experience their fair share of “near misses.”

My sister — also blessed with three sons — is a fellow warrior in the tidy toilet quest. Once, despite her unwavering vigilance, she found her bathroom emanating the unmistakable odor of foul urine. She disinfected the toilet and scrubbed the floor, but the smell remained.

She attacked the sink, the walls, the door. It wasn’t until she laundered the shower curtain — which was a full six feet away from the toilet — that her bathroom stopped smelling like a diaper pail on garbage day.

I thank God for those handy, pop-up antibacterial bathroom wipes. They are every parent’s answer to a prayer for cleaner toilets. You can whip them out, give a quick once-over and be assured it is safe to touch the handle once more.

There may be people who are appalled by such a frank discourse regarding what is one of the most private rooms in the house. A decade ago, I would have agreed with them. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Toilet tidiness is every parent’s business, and I’d bet my last bottle of bleach there are other moms (and dads) out there who are brave warriors in the battle for cleaner commodes.

You may be hesitant to admit it in public, but you know who you are. And the next time we’re talking on the phone, don’t be afraid to flush. I’ll understand. I’ll understand completely

~Jill Pertler

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