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Conversations that begin in
such a manner are bound to be interesting. My daughter is still at the stage
where she can’t tell a lie. She is brutally honest and will often tattle on
herself when she’s done something she knows is against a rule or not
I’m pretty sure she does
this in part to test my reactions, just as she pushes against boundaries 8,000
times each day.
We were snuggling on the
couch when she decided it was confession time. I took a deep breath and told
myself this would likely be one of those parenting moments
where I was freaking out in my head, but needed to be calm and measured on the
outside. And I was so right!
“When (teacher) isn’t
looking, I go in the boys’ bathroom,” she said.
That is what I said in my
mind. The words that came out of my mouth were, “You go in the boys’ bathroom?”
“Well, not in it. I peek in
“Are you trying to see the
Okey-dokey. Stay cool here …
“Sweetie, it’s perfectly normal to be curious about our bodies and the
differences between boys and girls. But it is not OK to invade other people’s
privacy. How would you feel if someone was trying to see you when you were
going to the bathroom?”
“I wouldn’t like it.”
“No, you wouldn’t. So you
need to remember that and extend the same courtesy to your classmates.”
“But the boys don’t go
behind doors like we do. They stand up to go pee, out in the open. I went in
the boys’ bathroom with Daddy one time at a store.”
“You’re right: Girls’ and
boys’ bathrooms are different. But going to the bathroom is still a private
act. Boys face the wall when they go. And they don’t have to take their pants
off to pee, so there really isn’t anything for others to see.”
“But they go behind a door
and sit down to go poop. Just like us.”
“Yes, they do. There are
ways we are different and there are ways we are the same. But we all deserve to
have privacy when we are going to the bathroom. Do you understand that?”
“I’m very glad you told me
about this, and I’m not angry, but I need for you to understand what you’ve
been doing is not OK. Your curiosity about the human body is not wrong, but
your actions are. If your teacher did see you doing that, you would get in
“If you have questions,
Daddy and I would be happy to talk to you about them. You can ask us anything.
But you can’t spy on people. OK?”
That night after she had
gone to bed, I relayed the exchange to my husband. He laughed and reminded me
of the time shortly before she was born when we were visiting friends in
They had a 5-year-old
daughter at the time, and she spent our entire visit desperately trying to
catch a glimpse of my husband naked. At one point when he was taking a shower,
she stood with her face pressed against the keyhole (it was an older home with
keyholes you can actually look through on every door), trying to see him.
“It’s OK,” she told me when
I explained he needed privacy in the bathroom. “I’ve seen my dad naked.”