Functions draw mixed reactions
Toilet talk, potty mouth, bathroom humour — no matter what you call it, it’s all the same: jokes and stories concerning nothing more natural than human excretions.
We all do it. Everyone. From the bushmen of Papau New Guinea to the Queen of England, we all have to relieve ourselves of our bodies’ waste. But there’s nothing more simultaneously funny and vile to discuss.
Perhaps it’s the summer, when I’m out in public places more, observing other people in the same predicament as myself: where are the facilities, will they be clean, will I be able to use them if nature calls.
And because the bathroom then becomes a topic of discussion, so, too, does the activity involved.
I’m reminded of a time in our childhood when just hearing the word “diarrhea” sent my cousin and I into fits of laughter so raucous, we’d pee our pants — which would make us laugh even more!
Perhaps my family won’t appreciate my candour, but my grandmother and her sisters used to laugh so hard, they’d all pee their pants. And ever since my brother was little, if you tickled him, he’d laugh hard enough that he’d break wind.
I don’t tickle him anymore, so I can only assume he’s grown out of the habit.
But no matter how many times a day we take ourselves to the bathroom to do our business, and no matter that we all know that everyone else around the world is doing the exact same thing, to do it in public is awkward.
Even though most men are used to peeing in front of others (that’s how their washrooms are set up), and women have a tendency, usually in their younger years, to go to the bathroom in pairs.
But when we’re asked for a urine sample, say, at the doctor’s office, suddenly it’s embarrassing. Because it’s not something that happens regularly (for me, anyway), it’s just as awkward each and every time.
It’s par for the course at every pregnant woman’s ob/gyn appointment, and yet each month, and then each week, I still found it slightly humiliating.
And that’s just urine! Imagine how distressing it must be to have to give a stool sample for medical research. Talk about embarrassing!
Truthfully, our adult reactions are incongruous to how most of us were raised regarding our toilet activities. It’s always praise and hallelujahs when a child first starts peeing in the potty. And when they graduate to serious bathroom bravado, parents, siblings and other family members rejoice.
We shouldn’t be remotely shy or embarrassed of our waste. We should be (privately) proud.
In other words, bodily functions are just another way in which we have a relationship with our own bodies. For those of us raising children, one of the healthiest messages we can pass on is that our body image is unique, our normal functions are necessary, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.