By HELEN MCNEILL
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You’re at the Art Gallery of NSW on a Sunday afternoon.
You’re waiting in the queue for a free cubicle in the Ladies when in bustles a lady – in a state of some urgency – brandishing a two-year-old child.
She charges to a hand basin, removes the girls knickers and then instructs her to relieve herself into the hand basin.
How do you respond, if at all?
It was my friend who broke the shocked silence when she exclaimed, “Well, I’ve never seen that before,” managing to beautifully convey her sense of shock in a typically non-confrontational manner.
I concurred, raised an eyebrow and as the keen observer that I so often am, scanned the room to gauge other reactions.
My fellow ‘queuers’ were fairly evenly split in terms of agreeing or disagreeing with her actions it seemed. For my two-penneth, given she hadn’t attempted to queue I think she should perhaps have asked her child to hold tight and then requested that she jump the queue.
I doubt anyone would have said no.
I also think that ‘accidents‘ are a natural part of toilet training. They’re part of the experiences that help inform children of the importance of listening to their bodies. What are we saying to a child if they can use a sink (after all it’s the place to hygienically clean oneself AFTER the toilet).
For those who might comment that ‘of course she did the right thing’ – answer me this:
What if the child were a boy? Same reaction? What if it were a 5 year old? Or a 10 year old? Or me, hoisting myself on to the vanity.
Then answer this: to pee or not to pee?
If Helen were a tapestry she would be made of luminescent threads that change in the light and at different times of day. The threads would be made of : neurosis, wisdom, experience, laughter, Motherhood, brilliance, insecurity, witticisms, love and a small boy’s hair.