Is it our almost two year old with potty paranoia? No, no, no! Quite sadly, it is the almost five year old who has been reasonably happy peeing, pooping and flushing since she was 2 1/2 years old who has now decided she hates toilets. Kyra has had occasional panic about flushing--an overflowing toilet at her day care once set her to avoiding beverages and holding her pee long enough to make any camel mama quite proud (and her human mama quite concerned). She has never been a fan of public toilets and those awful automatic flushers that threaten the too-slow bum with a whirlpool bath. This hasn't been of great concern to me, however, because her father still doesn't use public toilets unless it is absolutely unavoidable. He seems relatively well-adjusted, this fact notwithstanding, so I have simply assumed a mild toilet aversion is genetic to his side of the family. What has been a mild aversion has become quite major, however, with shrieks, tears and cries heard around southeastern Massachusetts as we attempt to simply have Kyra try to pee. She has taken to waking us in the middle of the night when she needs to use the bathroom because "the water level is rising." Prophetic words from Noah, calling all the animals to the ark? Not quite--simply concern that the unflushed pee from one of her parents trying to quietly exit the bathroom without waking two light sleepers will suddenly wash over the side and....what? Wash away the lower part of her body? Slowly burn the skin off the soles of her feet like spilled acid in a lab? Turn her into the potty monster, haunting the dreams of similarly afflicted kids? We have no idea! Matt thought he had cured her of the fear through an evening of strategizing. He splashed some toilet water on the floor (his idea, not mine!) and showed her there was nothing there but water. He helped her to consider where she could climb to if the toilet did overflow--perhaps a stool, or in the tub, or run squealing from the bathroom. Toss a towel down if you're feeling extra brave! Information seems not to have been the cure, however, as the fretful tears continue when we ask the seemingly benign question, "Did you flush?"
My sister tells me that phobias are simply a random receptacle for all your fears, anxieties and worries. I considered this and shared this possibility with Kyra, asking, "Is there something else you are really afraid of? Are you worried about Mommy or Daddy or something scary happening?" Without hesitation she said, "No, I just hate toilets." Hmmm....any suggestions anyone?