Using the bathroom as an extension of our social space starts very very early on. And, listen up, I have proof. I taught kindergarten for a number of years and before that preschool. Now in preschool, both boys and girls tend to sit and chit chat as they do their business. Many bathrooms in childcare centers are absolutely adorable with these miniature toilets all in a row. Usually just one was stalled off. Preschoolers, for the most part, aren't modest and many still need assistance so no real need for stalls. The kids loved to sit and talk about their snacks, pets, parents and even their poops. I had to shoo them out of there more often than not, girls and boys alike. By kindergarten though, you start to see a shift.
Again not sure of the whys here, but, the boys no longer seem to need or crave companionship in the bathroom. The boys go in and do what they need to do and zip up and they're out of there. The girls are a whole 'nother ball of wax. They still feel this need to chat and gossip and just loiter by the sinks. They call to each other through the stalls, checking to see if their BFFs are still two stalls down. There were numerous times the shrieks of laughter from the girls room could be heard all the way down the hall. They stay in there until they are sternly told to stop playing around and get back to class.Now that I've toilet trained my own three, I've seen this same pattern of behaviour played out with them . And this is really where it all starts. Toilet training. We moms know that if we sit and keep our kids company and distracted by a book, they will sit longer on the toilet and perhaps, just maybe, they'll actually go. So we sit in the bathroom with our little ones for hours on end. And by the time they are finally trained, the idea that bathroom time is a group thing has been firmly entrenched.
So, Katie is newly toilet trained. While she is very independent in her use of the potty, she always requests company. Not mine usually. It used to be me. I would sit there with her when she was first training just waiting for her to go. We'd look at books and talk. Now however, she prefers her "girlfriends." Either her sister or her friend A who comes to our house Monday through Friday and is about a year older than Kate. If one of them announces she has to use the toilet, you can bet the other will too. And if she doesn't, she's usually invited to join the one needing the facilities. They skip into the bathroom asking whether it's #1 or #2, if they want to hear a story and what kind of underwear they have on. The one keeping company often tells a little story while the other does her business. They show off their pretty little undies and admire the size and color of each other's poops. They play in the sink while washing their hands and help each other out with a tricky pair of pants or stubborn skort. As I watch them giggle and chatter away with each other as they sit comfortably in the bathroom I realize I've seen this many times before. It's deja vu all over again. I just hope by the time my girls are partying in Boston the bathrooms in the city's bars have improved somewhat.