Imagine getting a report card for your child with glowing remarks on intelligence and behavior but concern over his or her paralyzing fear of public toilets. If you have experienced that, you are probably my mom reading this post. (Hi, Mom!)
I was that child, freaked out over using any toilet other than my own. And it wasn’t necessarily a germ phobia, though my dad may have scarred most of my childhood by explaining to me how I got salmonella the first week of kindergarten and giving me a lifelong fear of raw meat and pink burgers.
No, I was afraid of the noise and the irrational idea that somehow, the toilet was going to pull me in and suck me down the drain. The worst were the automatic flush toilets that nearly drove me wild with fear when they would flush while I was still sitting! I would have peed my pants if I wasn’t there to do that already.
Apparently, my teacher thought it was a bad enough issue to devote an entire sentence in my report card, forever branding me as the kid who cried when toilets flushed.
Why couldn’t I have had a normal fear like the dark or monsters?
My mom employed tough love to help me overcome my fear, blocking my escape from a public bathroom stall and refusing to “please flush it for me, Mommy.” I’m sure she hated making me upset , but who wants their adult daughter texting her from the stall asking her to flush for her?
And you know what, you guys? I am now a proud squat-so-I-don’t-touch-the-seat public toilet user who flushes her own toilet and us afraid of mostly normal things like heights and decapitation by ceiling fan.
Go, me. :)