I have done a stellar job of striking terror in the heart of my fifth grade son when it comes to using a public restroom. He has come to understand, as we all should, that toilet seats, sink handles, and door knobs in communal bathrooms are all harboring Dengue Fever, the Ebola Virus, the Black Death, or possibly a toxic cocktail of all three. If I felt I wouldn’t draw the attention of the psychiatric community, I would go so far as to wear a gas mask and rubber gloves whenever Mother Nature leaves me no alternative but to use one. (Don’t even get me started on the deadly-bacteria-filled menace to society known as the Porta-John.)
My son usually avoids the restroom at school, opting instead to hold it all day in order to use his own toilet at home. I can’t say that I blame him because let’s face it – ten year old boys are nasty little creatures by design. If I didn’t ride him every day to keep his bathroom clean, it, too, would smell like a crusty urinal from a seedy biker bar. (Just curious…at what point does good aim kick in for boys?)
When I pick him up from school, it's a given that I can not run errands afterward because nature’s call has been ignored for at least two to three hours by this point in the day. I can always tell how much water he has had to drink since breakfast by how deeply his brow is furrowed and how quickly he walks to the car. However, a couple of days ago, he hopped in with an unusually bright-eyed look on his face. As he threw his backpack onto the floor and buckled his seatbelt, he said excitedly, “You’ll never guess what just happened!”
As the students were nearing the end of their school day, the assistant principal buzzed into the classroom and asked for all of the boys to report to the cafeteria. Puzzled, they filed out into the hallway and realized that boys - and only boys - from every fourth and fifth grade class were making their way down to this mysterious meeting. There were hushed whispers between them as they tried to understand what had gotten the whole lot of them in trouble. However, as my son and the other kids entered the cafeteria, he understood immediately what this impromptu gathering was about because at the front of the room stood the unhappy assistant principal flanked by an entourage of equally unhappy janitors. The shit had hit the fan. Literally.
My son vaguely mentioned from time to time that restrooms for the older boys were the stuff of nightmares. Being a female who is thirty-two years removed from fifth grade, I didn’t ask for details, opting instead to believe that “disgusting” meant paper towels on the floor or maybe a toilet was left full of tissue paper because the bell rang, and it simply slipped the mind of the user to flush. He told me a story once of walking into the restroom and witnessing a kid peeing into the drain on the floor instead of the urinal. I laughed it off, thinking that this was just another one of his many tall tales. Apparently, this was only the tip of the putrid iceberg, and I wasn’t even close to understanding the excrement-smeared stinkhole behind that boys’ room door.
It seems as though this small-town elementary school has a Mad Crapper walking the halls (and missing the commode completely). I happen to believe that it's more likely a Band of Fiber-ful Brothers working together (or possibly apart) to inflict this smelly mayhem on their classmates because there is no way one tween can be so full of poop. Pre-teen fecal matter is not only left in the unflushed toilets (mere child's play), but it has also found its way to the urinals, the restroom floor and, according to my son, the walls. The WALLS. I can only say, as a hyper-germophobic mother, that I sincerely hope this person: A. Remembered to bring the latex gloves when he decided to reach into the toilet and use his poop as a Sharpie, and B. Finds a new hobby that doesn't include direct contact with e coli and last night's corn. It's no wonder my son would rather risk a bladder infection than pee at school.
While the custodians gave the Stink Eye to the crowd, the boys were read the Riot Act and told that swift punishment would befall any kid who decided to forego their potty training and do their business on the floor. There is to be no loyalty amongst Mad Crappers as anyone found withholding knowledge of the identity of these rogue poopers will be on their hands and knees cleaning up the pee puddles as well.
Needless to say, I will no longer chastise him for making me late for after-school eye appointments because of the need for a pit stop on the way. I'll be sure to fill his cup only half full of milk at breakfast, and there will be no more haranguing him for not finishing his water bottle from lunch. But, as if my own visions of this elementary cess pool aren't enough to keep me awake at night, he said something that sent chills down my spine. "Mom, it's even worse than the Port-a-Potty at the Renaissance Festival."
Oh, the humanity!