When I pulled the Tahoe into the garage after school yesterday, my boys all made a beeline for the bathroom.
“Me first! Me first! I have to GO NOW!”
They pushed and shoved and wrestled their way into the closest bathrooms while I was still putting the car into “park.”
“Why didn’t you boys go at school?” I asked once the melee had settled.
George and Sam — in typical fashion — ignored me. And I know Sam has issues about “the home court advantage.” He’s his Daddy’s Boy, after all.
But Gus’s answer surprised me.
“Because if I don’t go at school, I’ll get a King-sized candy bar at the end of the year.”
Ummm. Excuse me?
“We get 8 bathroom passes every nine weeks. If I turn in 32 bathroom passes at the end of the year, I get a King-sized candy bar.”
Although proud of his quick math, I was, alas, a bit disturbed — on a number of levels — by the message he was conveying.
“So, do you have time to go to the restroom during your passing period?”
“Not really,” he shrugged.
“So, you don’t go to the bathroom all day?”
Then Mary Claire chirped in. She’s good at that, the middle school girl conversation interruptus. “I only drank like two sips of my milk at lunch today,” she admitted. “I had to go to the bathroom sooooo bad…”
“Badly,” I corrected.
“Whatever. I didn’t want to have to go more, so I threw my milk away.”
“Are you kidding me??” I screeched. This, from the girl who has battled bladder infections since birth. The one who’s undergone a voiding cystogram and been on enough antibiotics to keep a third world country healthy. The one who — like her mother and her grandmother before her — has to be extremely diligent with her bathroom habits. “We’ve talked about this a thousand times before, Mary Claire. You HAVE to go to the restroom! It’s unhealthy to hold it!”
“Well, I was wearing that jumpsuit today,” she explained. “I didn’t want to have to STRIP DOWN in school just to pee! Sheesh, Mom!”
Well, there’s that. I’m less concerned about an individual’s right to choose not to strip in school than a chocolate-incented health hazard.
“Okay, Gus,” I said, switching my attention back, “here’s the thing. How about I buy you a King-sized candy bar at the end of the year and you go to the bathroom whenever you need to?”
“Will you buy me a large soda instead?” he asked.
“Because then I’ll turn my bathroom passes in, and I’ll get a King-sized candy bar from my teachers and a large soda from you. Perfect end-of-the-year snack!”
For those of you who’ve been wondering why Mississippi recently received the never-sought-after distinction of being the most obese state in the nation, well, now you know. Rotel, fried okra, fried chicken, fried tomatoes, and King-sized candy bars as learning incentives.
I’m really not okay with this whole bathroom usage — or lack thereof — revelation. I’m sure on some level it’s a push to keep kids in class. I get that. But it’s not healthy for kids to not use the restroom, and it’s certainly not healthy for them to avoid liquids so they can, in turn, avoid the restroom. (That was a confusing and highly negative sentence, I know. Forgive me. I’m a little riled up.) It’s especially unhealthy in 185-degree Mississippi. (It gets that hot down here. I swear it does.)
“This bothers me. More than a little,” I told Chris. “I think urinary health might be my calling. In fact, I’m going to start a foundation. I’m going to Go Daddy right now to purchase www.wepeefreely.org.”
The domain name’s available. I checked.
“Really?” my husband asked. “This? Of all the causes you could get behind, urination is the one you choose?”
I rolled my eyes at him. “When you have a UTI that causes you to pee blood, THEN you’ll understand.”
He rolled his eyes at me in return.
He is most definitely NOT going to be Vice-President of the We Pee Freely Foundation.
So don’t nominate him.
Who’s with me, friends? Grab your yellow flags and your Charmin Ultra!
At dawn, WE RIDE!!!