Overheard: “Dad, NOBODY goes to bathroom in school.” (Parenting a Middle Schooler: The Joyful Saga, pt. 2)

I work at home, so I’m aware when Gavin and Maggie return from middle school — I can hear them scurrying to the bathrooms. It’s a sprint. The quickest gets the bathroom off the main hallway, while the slower one hustles upstairs.

I’m not kidding. This is often the scene when they get home.

How often? Oh, hmmm, let me see, by my calculation . . . EVERY SINGLE DAY!

I ask, “Don’t they have bathrooms in that school?”

Gavin is politely dismissive. “Dad, NOBODY goes to bathroom in school.”

Nobody?

Could that be possible?

I decided to do a little research. So I staked out the main access road from the middle school, and lo, it was true. I saw students under heavy backpacks making the long trek home, like water-retaining camels filing across the open desert.

They all had to go, every single one of those kids. You could tell by the short quick strides and the crazy eyes.

No wonder they don’t learn anything in school these days. How can our children concentrate on multiplying integers when they sit with legs crossed and teeth clenched, thisclose to catastrophe?

If we want to improve test scores, maybe there’s an easy, low-cost solution in these days of fiscal belt-tightening: Make ‘em pee, that’ll help with their learnin’.

Back in my day at St. Frances de Chantal Elementary School in Wantagh, Long Island, we were required to get on “lavatory line” twice daily. Everybody. No options. We stood outside in the hallway — “No talking, Mr. Preller!” — and went into the big, cool bathroom five at a time. It smelled of vomit, ammonia, and urinal cakes composed of naphthalene and para-dichlorobenzene (both later found to be hazardous to our health, like the asbestos in the ceiling). After lunch, we lined up again. We were like dogs they took for walks. It worked. We did our business.

And we learned, boy, did we learn.

I used to think it was because of the discipline of the classrooms. Those no-nonsense nuns. The golden ruler. But maybe it was the lavatory line.

Oh, wait. Hold on. Hear that double-flush? My kids are home!

Thanks for listening.

Note: I found this illustration in cyberland.

It’s by Greg Clarke, and I love it.

One comment

  1. Liz S. says:

    I second that this is the case in middle school. I feel for them!

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