I am honest with my children, and I have found that it has, to some degree, backfired on me. My children, the darlings who I carried for nine months and nurtured into little compassionate girls, find some of my honesty to be odd and funny. I find that they often laugh at me when I am trying my hardest to be poignant and supportive.
It doesn’t bother me. I like that they laugh at my idiosyncracies and realize that their mother is a bit eccentric. They are very aware that they are genetically attached to me and that, like it or not, they, too, will develop some abnormal beliefs and behaviors.
Recently, the girls and I were having a very candid conversation about the start of school and the changes they would be facing. All three of my children showed concern for the sheer size of their schools. Respectively, Carson’s entire seventh grade class was 22, Maggie’s fourth grade class was 25, and Lizzie’s second grade class was eighteen students. No one changed classes. No one had the opportunity to meet new people. It was a pint-sized version of the schools they would soon be attending.
My biggest fears for them included the following: with whom would they eat lunch; the embarrassment of walking into the wrong classroom; and lastly, having to go to the bathroom at school.
The first two topics were easy. I told all of them to find someone they liked earlier in the day, and see if they were in the lunchroom. I said it was not uncommon to walk up to an acquaintance and say, “Hey can I eat with you?” I told them that their friendly smiles and warm personalities were inviting. I knew they would be welcomed.
Second, I told them how I have walked into the wrong classroom as a teacher! Just last year, I got my day messed up, and I walked into a classroom and set myself up to teach my class. However, I was a period early! Instead of going to my hall duty, I was trying to teach a class!
The last topic was a bit more sensitive. Everyone, at some point in time, has to use the restroom in public. Bodily functions should not be embarrassing because sometimes, it just cannot be avoided.
“I know sometimes using the bathroom at school is difficult. It took me over five years to be able to use the restroom at school.”
The girls gasped. “You didn’t go for five years?!” Carson asked, incredulous.
Realizing that they thought I meant both urination and defecation, I corrected myself. “No. I could pee, but I couldn’t poop.” I paused to think how to phrase my words in a nurturing way. “You might find that you feel like I did. Sometimes, being in a foreign place makes it hard to poop.”
I must have been staring off because when I refocused on the girls, they squealed with laughter. For almost three minutes, they could not speak they were laughing so hard.
“Okay, Mom,” Carson finally uttered. “You deserve some kind of reward for your accomplishment.”
“Five years…” Lizzie muttered, but she snorted before she could finish.
“Yeah. You deserve a porcelain throne!” Maggie said barely audible.
I sighed and left the room. Evidently, they do not share my discomfort for public restrooms. They must take after their father.