Private Time

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

Do Not Disturb

This is private time! Get out of here! As I write this, my five-year-old daughter, Sophie, is sitting on the toilet screaming at her twin brother, Nicholas, in the shrillest voice I have ever heard. Private? Seriously? Does she not know that there is nothing private in this house? I am not sure I even recall what privacy feels like. I am not certain I would recognize it if it walked up and bit me on the nose.

In the eight years since I first became a parent, the privacy I previously enjoyed in my life has systematically dwindled down to complete non-existence. It happens quite quickly once you become a parent. One minute you are demurely dressing yourself behind closed doors. The next mintute, you are a raving lunatic running around the house in nothing but your underwear, brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, and arguing with your beloved child about the necessity of completely finishing his entire banana. All at the same time. The concept of privacy quickly becomes a thing of the past. An antiquated idea we look back on fondly, but a concept that has no place in our current lives.

I would like to change this. I would like to declare a return to the privacy of my past. I want to reinstate “private time”. I want to pee in private. I suspect peeing is a totally different experience when you don’t have someone asking you to kiss their boo-boo while you’re sitting on the toilet. And what about showering? We have two bathrooms in this house, but it never fails that someone has to come in and use the toilet while I am in the shower. I want a private shower. Oh, and wouldn’t a private meal be nice? I would love to eat a meal without having a running commentary on what I am eating. “Ooh, mom. That smells yucky!” “Why is it so slimy?” “Broccoli is gross” (or “Bwoccoli is gwoss”, if it’s Nicholas commenting). And what about the beggars? Do I really have to share every single meal? They have their own plates. Why must they eat off of mine? Tonight, Sophie was begging me for some of my Chinese take-out. Except, she wanted no vegetables, no chicken, and no sauce. Just rice, please. So I spent most of my meal dissecting the stir fry to pull out spoonfuls of dry, sauceless rice to share with my daughter. Somehow, the meal lost a little bit of its allure. And it didn’t have much to spare.

Not only would I like a little bit more “private time” for myself. It would be a sheer pleasure if my dear children would keep a few more things private, as well. For example, boogers should always be kept private. I think most adults would agree. The cleaning of one’s nose should be done behind closed doors. And never —and I mean ever—should one hand a booger to someone else. Here’s a little insider’s tip: if Sophie ever tries to hand you something, refuse it. Trust me. I can guarantee you it is nothing you want.

Itchy private parts should also be kept private, as the name of those parts suggests. Lucas, my dear eight-year-old son, I do not need to be informed every time your butt itches. Please just excuse yourself and go scratch it. And please, do not ever ask me to scratch it for you. I love you dearly and would do most anything for you, but I have limits. On a somewhat related note, your gas is neither funny nor does it smell like rose petals.

And Nicholas. I certainly do not want to leave him out. It’s bad enough that he was in a diaper until he was four years old. But now that he is potty trained, is it really necessary for him to ask me to describe his bowel movements for him every single time I wipe him? “Mommy, is it a big poopy or an teensy poopy?” Isn’t the fact that I am wiping him involvement enough?

Is it too much to ask for a few boundaries? I know. I know. One day they will be throwing up boundaries left and right. They will keep everything private and I will be begging to be a part of their lives. In the meantime, I am trying to enjoy every minutes that I have with them. Every sloppy kiss. Every “I love you”. Every snuggle. Every tickle. Tonight, I couldn’t get enough of the sweet smell of their freshly-bathed skin. I feel the time flying by too quickly, and I want to savor it.

I would not be opposed, however, to “savoring” it with fewer boogers and a little less poop.

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