Standing Issue: Dribbles
A standing issue between Guo Jian and I (pun intended) is regarding the state of the bathroom. I theorize that since Chinese restrooms are, on average, absolutely disgusting places, his overall standards for bathroom sanitation are simply lower. He grew up there.
I, however, didn’t.
This is one of those areas that really tests my patience with his biological sex. You see, he stands to pee. He’s a guy, I know. Sometimes he drips on the floor. He claims that he doesn’t have this problem, but my feet and socks tell me otherwise. For years, we have fought about this and I have often just given up and mopped, simply because I couldn’t stand it one second longer. When he refused to be considerate of this fact, I felt helpless. Then I discovered that I still possessed at least one power: the power to take care of my own feet. Cleaning it up myself incenses me, absolutely, but at least it’s more sanitary.
That doesn’t mean I accept this situation.
His blatant disregard is so incredibly inconsiderate and rude that I can barely write about it without my internal volcano erupting. He simply doesn’t care and says so—not about me, or the floor, or more recently, how this unsanitary practice affects his busy and curious toddler! I admit to having translated his disregard into a lack of love; one step in urine on the bathroom floor and I feel unloved, period. What follows is a mixture of fury and despair.
Six years of this, people! I’m a feminist. This behaviour is completely sexist (namely his refusal to clean it up). I used to be partnered with women who (of course) sat down to pee, so I have no experience with this ridiculousness!! Shouldn’t the aim be to coexist harmoniously? (“Aim” with pun intended!) WTF! What did I get myself into, right?
We are finishing up our stay here in Canada (following the birth of our son) and in my parent’s home there is a bathroom floor that is a beige textured tile. It’s difficult to see if there’s anything on the floor in front of the toilet in any light. My feet have discovered either wet or sticky patches, however, especially in the middle of the night when I have a newborn yelling for a feeding and washing my feet is the last thing that I want (or have time) to do.
[Enter: fury and despair]
But, as GJ has recently been after me to be less controlling, I decided that my instinctive method of ushering him into the bathroom, pointing to the floor and thrusting the bottle of all-purpose cleaner and some rags into his hands would probably not accomplish my goal. Especially in the middle of the night! Besides, I’ve tried this tactic before over the years and I already know that it results in a day or two of mock consideration followed by a return to the old disregard.
This week, I thought of this:
I put fresh paper towels in front of the toilet, lying flat on the floor. I instructed Echo to leave them alone saying, “Those are daddy’s. When he pees on the floor, he has to clean it up. Don’t touch them please. They’re very dirty.” (So far, she has left them alone but says “Daddy’s!” in a very high-pitched voice every time she uses her potty and spots them next to the “big girl” toilet!). Of course, I didn’t say anything to Guo Jian about this.
The next day, I discovered that one was in the garbage and a new one was in its place. “Ah-hah!” I thought, “He has now realized that he DOES pee on the floor! Perfect!” Since then, he has replaced several of them and my feet have been saved.
For four days, no words about this passed between us. On the fifth day, I noticed that a piece of paper towel was looking worse for wear. It had been wet and dried several times and was no longer lying flat on the ground. Some of the spots on it were distinctly yellow.
I was in the bathroom with Echo while she was on the potty and Guo Jian and I were about to trade off. Our son was crying in the other room and so Guo Jian had come in to relieve me of potty duty so that I could go and feed our newborn. As a passing comment, I said,
“Feel free to replace that paper towel with a new one when it gets wet. This one is pretty dirty already.”
He quickly squatted down and picked it up and I spontaneously helped him get a new piece to replace it, as the roll of paper towels was within my reach. Then, as I turned to leave the bathroom, he said these amazing words:
“That’s a really good idea. Who thought of that?”
For a stunned moment, I paused and looked at his face to see whether or not he was being sarcastic before replying: “I did.”
“Well, we’re going to have to tell our mothers about this idea because they now have grandsons who are going to get pee on the floor.”
[I let the sexism of it being our mothers’ (not our fathers’) issue go without commentary, and said this:]
“It keeps the floor and my feet dry.”
But, of course, so would sitting down. That was the extension of the thought that I didn’t voice. Not today, anyway.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve found a successful compromise. I am finally seeing him take responsibility for his dribbles and I’m no longer fighting an urge to threaten divorce at three a.m.
Now if we can just agree to get little Paz well-trained in the sitting method, all will be well. Guo Jian is very adamant that boys should stand to pee, period. He refuses to allow Paz to be taught to sit and is very vocal about this–like it’s some sort of macho requirement to his parenting a son or something. I think learning both methods will benefit him, I say calmly (to deaf ears).
That will be another standing issue, for another day.