'Privacy Please!' How My 5-year-old Gave Me the Bathroom Boot


The first time he kicked me out came as a shock. While I sensed that his desire to have me by his side constantly was shifting, I did not anticipate such an abrupt dismissal. It all began in a public restroom when my attempt to follow him into the stall was met with a raised hand. It was as if he was the world’s tiniest bouncer and I was not on the list for the potty party.

“Fine! I didn’t want to come inside there anyway!” I said in a totally mature way before stepping into the next stall over. His independence was short-lived as he emerged moments later to defeatedly ask for my help fastening his pants, a fact I definitely did not secretly gloat about.

Shortly thereafter he began lobbying Congress for the right to go to the men’s room, (“I’m a boy, Mom. I don’t want to pee with girls around.”) something I have taken a firm stance against in the absence of his father as an escort.

It wasn’t long before he insisted on bathing alone.

“Get out, Mom! I don’t want you in here! I will be naked!” He stared up at me with impatience, one hand on the gold knob of the bathroom door, waiting for me to step outside so that he might close it to disrobe in secrecy.

I stifled a laugh. “Have you grown something new I haven’t seen since yesterday’s bath?” I asked.

“This isn’t a joke!” And just like that, there was a closed door between Anders and I, the very first of many. I waited outside listening for signs of distress, a sound that never came. Every once in a while I yelled a reminder for him to wash his hair, his face, and behind his ears, statements answered with exasperated sighs.

Eventually, I heard the sound of the water draining, the door was cracked just enough for a small hand to extend for a towel, and was quickly shut again. A minute later Anders emerged, wrapped in terrycloth, and retreated to his room to dress in the pajamas I laid on his bed. I didn’t press my luck by following him. Instead, I took a seat on the couch downstairs and waited for him to join me.

“All clean?” I asked when he came bounding down the stairs.

He nodded. “I’m going to take a bath by myself from now on. Okay, mom?”

I agreed, but will sorely miss my nightly serving of bubble tea.

When did your child begin to ask for more privacy?

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