Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If a Toilet Flushes in the Woods, Was Anyone Around to Flush?

I would like to personally meet the person who invented the self-flushing toilet and punch them in the face. Little did they know that this contraption that assists those whose arms are too fatigued to push a lever, or to serve the germaphobes from having to touch anything at all in a public restroom, or that shields us from witnessing a right proper toilet spackling from someone who doesn't have the good sense that God gave a goose to flush the evidence; that this gimmick would scar my daughter for life.

She is afraid? Of noise.

It all started innocently enough one harried morning at the airport in spring of '07; a quick trip to the bathroom for a little girl, who'd just somewhat recently graduated from pull-ups, before boarding the plane. She'd been accident free and was ready for a trip across the country. We sauntered into the stall together and she took a seat. She no sooner finished her business and was all set to, um, tidy up - when a deafening WHOOSHING sound came from beneath her. No kidding, it sounded like a jet, it was that loud. Even startled me. And Girl-Child? Came. Un. Glued. She literally shot off the toilet and clung to me like a lemur. Her feet didn't even hit the ground first. It was as if the self-flushing mechanism acted as a catapult; flinging the user like, you're done, I insist.

The rest of that trip was a series of a screaming 3 year old being dragged into various public restrooms in the greater Richmond/DC area. Gooood times. Many of which had their own self-flushing toilets. They were everywhere! I'd never even given them a second thought before this trip. The trip that nearly scared my daughter back into diapers.

To this DAY I try to only take her to places that I know haven't incorporated this particular function into their facilities. And even still, I have to flush once she's left the stall - where she stands by the sink cowering and covering her ears.

It's not just toilets anymore either. She's graduated to other sounds, such as:

  • lawnmowers
  • leaf blowers
  • hairdryers
  • water filling a tub
  • water draining from a tub
  • vacuum cleaners
  • helicopters
  • street sweepers
  • garbage trucks
  • airplanes
  • motorcycles
  • ........wind
The most commonly used phrase in this house has become: It's just noise. Only I pronounce it more like NOY-YAH-ZUHHH. And about the bathrooms in the kindergarten classroom? Well, let's just say the teacher has a new phrase too.

51 comments:

kcinnova said...

But did you try to get her to use the toilet on the airplane? Because you haven't really lived until you've tried to get a small child to use one of THOSE!

tysdaddy said...

It's all about being green. According to the signs posted in the bathrooms at the factory where I work, these things consume less than a quarter of the water regular toilets do.

The worst, even for an adult, is when you're sitting there, trying to avoid work, reading and texting and trying to be quiet, and the damn things keep flushing *before* the business is done. I figured it was a sign . . .

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Laura detested those toilets too. Still does, really. She'd warily check first to see if was an "automatic potty." So, Tootsie, traveler's tip for you: Along with airports, also avoid Legoland.

Strange Pilgram said...

It doesn't end. My son hates noise too. Our problem now is that we live in Italy and Italian are loud. He's left numerous parties just because they are too darn loud. Balloon popping, incessant horn blowing, screaming kids.

Now I understand why my husband is nearly deaf.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

My children hate those toilets!

My oldest was very noise-sensitive. Thank goodness those toilets weren't around then. But he became totally freaked out by one of those air fresheners in public bathrooms that periodically emit puffs of whatever it is that freshens the air. He refused to go into a public restroom for years.

All Adither said...

My daughter is the same way. And I hate those self flushers. (See: Waste of perfectly good technology)

O'Neal (The woman in charge around here) said...

Oh my goodness, I totally feel her (& your!) pain! My niece is also terrified of any & all toilets, all because of the time the city was working on the pipes and temporarily cut off our water. She was on the pot and when she went to flush, it made a terrible loud jet plane noise much like the one you described and shot water so high up out of the toilet it washed the ceiling! That was several years ago and now she is 9 yrs old - still afraid to flush the toilet!

Another Mom I know was complaining that her children have become spoiled by the automatic flushing toilets at school and can't remember to flush at home!

My 2 yr old is terrified of 90% of the other things you listed, it def makes life interesting! It's funny what the topic of interest changes to when you're a Mom, just this morning I was reading an email from a friend where we were discussing little one's and their potty quirks. More so the ability of producing giant Guinness record breaking turds, thus them holding them in for days on end making everyone in the house miserable. I guess it's nature's way of preparing us for when we're old...LOL!

Amanda said...

May I suggest keeping a pad of sticky notes in your purse and slapping one on the sensor eye before your daughter goes in to do her business. She can exit the stall before you remove the sticky and flush.

Jenn said...

Oh! I hate those things! Half the time they flush before you are even done, spraying a fine mist on your butt and the other half of the time you have to manually flush anyway because they aren't working! Ugh! Hate them.

Amy said...

Those things scare the crap out of me! Your poor little girl!

By the way, I recently found your blog and love it! You are just too funny!

Kimmylyn said...

dulurking to say that I had to chuckle at this. My son is petrified of the auto flush.. hates the auto blower.. I could ramble on and on about the noise phobia's he has acquired over his short four years..but the auto toilet is torture..

Stacie said...

I understand. My daughter, now 9, was locked out of the house accidentally (that my story and I'm sticking to it) when she was 6 for about 10 minutes. From then on, she wouldn't go into ANY room and shut the door including public bathroom stalls. We are just now getting over this. I hope it passes for you.

Tammy said...

Another mom of a toddler that is paralyzed by loud noises. Especially the ones that "sneak" up on him. Like the motion-activated hand dryers. He's at *just* the right height to make them go off when he walks past. Scares the bejesus out of him. Oy!

Now everytime we go to a bathroom with hand dryers, I have to make sure he's aware of them and steer him to the side so he doesn't set it off unwittingly. He's gotten used to the hair dryer though...doesn't like it, but at least he's not pounding at the bathroom door like he's being attacked by leafblower-wielding lumberjacks.

KD @ A Bit Squirrelly said...

My kids don't like loud flushes either. There is a book called "FLUSH an ode to Toilets" Check it out. It might help her laugh away her fear.

Jenn said...

My 3 yr old daughter is the same way. She literally JUMPS off the toilet THE.VERY.INSTANT. she is done peeing for fear that the toilet will start flushing while she's still sitting there (God Forbid!). We have learned to cover the sensor (I like the stickie note idea, Amanda!), and it's really cute to hear her say, "Mommy, will you please cover the skin-sor?" every time we go in a public restroom. :)

calicobebop said...

My little girl has the exact same fear. She always asked if it's an "automatic potty" when we go to a bathroom. It was suggested to me that "desensitization" would help cure her, but I'm not entirely convinced.

I feel your pain and I'm sorry your little girl has been traumatized by the auto-potty too.

(btw, my word verification was "potio." Spooky!)

smalltownmom said...

I like Amanda's suggestion. Cover the sensor first.

my word verification is gentl. Gentl flusing, how appropriate.

Lee the MWOB Queen said...

Wow - I totally forgot that those toilets also traumatized my 4-year-old girl until you just reminded me! BUT...news is good. I simply warn her it's coming whenever we HAVE to encounter one...and she usually handles it...

Lo said...

uhm. yeah. those toilets? are on my shit list. (har. har.) seriously? the worst is when they DONT work. and you're standin there trying to find the hidden hidey button to make it flush and... can't find it... and god forbid i be one of those people who leaves a public toilet in disarray.

but seriously? i sat on one once (toilet seat covers were used OF COURSE. about twenty.) and i swear it was trying to suck my butt into toilet water hell. it was that. strong.

Baby Favorite said...

I feel your pain. My 9yo has so many neuroses that I've seriously considered counseling for her.

This weekend she finally "mastered" her intense fear of... escalators. It has been an ongoing trauma for her since she could walk. She even dislocated my poor husband's elbow at the one near the parking garage at Disneyland a few years ago, clinging to him as THE MONSTER almost ate her alive. (Or not.)

barbra said...

I hate those things. HAAAAAAATE.

I even hated them before kids, because somehow, they don't work for me. The "automatic" sinks don't, either. It makes me feel invisible.

But once I had toilet-trained kids, my HATRED grew to be very intense. I learned to stand with my hand over the sensor-eye thing, so the kid can do his/her business without it flushing while they're still sitting there. They are TERRIFIED of that.

My oldest had a period of time when she was having accidents in first grade. Turns out, she preferred going in her pants to going on the "automatic flush" potty. (I would like to have a "conversation" with whoever decided to outfit the entire church/school complex with the auto-flushers. I have practiced it in my head a number of times!)

One of her friends taught her some sort of trick - putting a sweatshirt over the sensor, or a Post-It, or something - and thank goodness for that. She was able to use the school potty after all.

The Rockin' Wife said...

No, this is exactly my life. my SIX year old, yes SIX...We have never gotten over it...has to have me cover my hand over the sensor, making the sensor think there is a butt on the toilet. And I can not let go at all, until she has left the stall and finished washing her hands, where then she can then cover her ears. All the while I am in a twister-esque contortionist position in a public restroom. I do not think my little one will "trust" the sticky note thing, but I will give it a try.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh no. I despise those self-flushers, too. I never finish in time...
Mr. G was fearful of noises--flapping kites in the sky, bounce houses, fireworks, you name it. They're a match made in heaven, perhaps.

Lynette said...

My cousin is afraid of that water show at the Bellagio in Vegas...I thought she was nuts, but I guess she's not completely alone.

Queenly Things said...

My grandson was like that the noise PLUS the swirling water that goes to some unknown hell - well it put his potty training (and bathing) schedule off by almost a year. My daughter on the other hand could barely keep herself from public restrooms. She'd sometimes have to go 3 or 4 times during one dinner. Turns out she was fascinated with how each was decorated. I don't know if she was taking notes or not. She was 4.

Avonlea said...

I've got to remember the post-it note tip for me and for our little guy once we're serious about potty training.

I hate the auto-flush while still on the toilet -- spray from a public toilet on me, ick!!!

hippo brigade said...

what I don't get about the self flushing toilets are the people who assume that the toilet took care of their business, and then leave. By the time I make it into their stall, I am greeted by a pile of "stuff." Then I quickly maneuver a u-turn and get the eff out of there. I never assume anything, especially in the toilet department.

Bridget said...

As a former noise-a-phobe myself, I feel your daughter's pain. I used to cover my ears, roll my eyes into the back of my head, and scream throughout every Fourth of July fireworks display my parents ever took me to until I was about six. And God forbid you were pushing me in a stroller when a fire truck went by.

My other mortal fear: the man who dressed up as Mr. Peanut and stood posing for pictures with all the kids on the boardwalk. Pure torture. My gah my parents were quite horrible people for always taking me to things like fireworks and the beach.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It's a funny story, but you might want to consider that she has neurological inability to filter noise--it sounds odd, but my son has it so I know it's real. It can make a difference in the type of classroom environment they need.

What I hate about those toilets is that every once in a while the sensor misreads what's happening and flushes while you are still sitting.

karen said...

My 3 year old daughter has developed the same fear of toilets after encountering a self flushing toilet at the zoo. Now, everytime we are out & I ask her if she's got to go, her first question is .. . "Does the toilet flush itself?" If the answer is yes, then she just ends up going in her pull-up. This has been a little bit of a set back on our journey through potty training. I need to try covering that sensor thing!

Swirl Girl said...

This is a common ailment that is not in the What to Expect When You're Expecting handbook.

My older one got over this noise aversion easily enough...the little one, not so much.

One Reader said...

The post-its totally work. We had this problem when my daughter went in a Walmart one time she thought the tiolet was going to get her or something... She was like 4 and it lasted till she was like 6. She would come to work with me occasionally and we have auto flushers. I would give her her own post-it and tell her to put it on the sensor part... Tada, she was in charge and she was okay as long as she was in charge. But man... Those things are evil!

Madge said...

yeah. i have two like that. those toilets are a menace to the sound sensitive. totally set my kids back too.

sarah bean said...

ooh, never heard of these! lucky us in lil ol nz being too far behind the times to have such thing.

My son refuses to go into bathrooms with the hand blower things because of the noise - traumas in the bathroom hey.

This Mom said...

I didn't read through all the comment but I thought I would share this tidbit.

My daughter had the same problem with those WONDERFUL (not) potties. If you just take some toliet paper and drape it over the sensor it won't flush till you remove it.

THen you don't have to worry about findiny non auto flush potties. And your cute girl can get out of the LOUD zone before you flush.

Saucy said...

What freaked Loopy out was the auto-lid covers that spin out at O'Hare Airport before you sit down! Don't sit too fast, man.

Mr Lady said...

That is SO SAD!

Hint: Stand behind her while she tinkles and block the sensor with your body. Works like a charm. Or, would have, before those damn things scarred her for life.

Poor baby. :(

Melissa said...

I think almost every little kid goes through that...just wait until the noisy garbage truck gets added to that list.

Yeah, aren't sensory issues fun? NOT!

babs said...

Those toilets are ANNOYING to say the least - and talk about a waste of water! But seriously, if your daughter continues to be bothered by loud noises (she may grow out of it, most kids are frightened of loud noises), I would ask her doctor about it - it's possible she suffers from HYPERACUSIS. I have it in one year and it's very painful.

Madame Queen said...

OMG, can I get an amen! Caroline is also frightened to death of toilets and insists that I let her leave the stall before flushing. Why ARE toilets so loud? AND she also doesn't like water running in the bathtub, the hairdryer, the vacuum.

Seriously, she's never going to make it as a mom if she can't hack a little a noise. Sheesh.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, the toilet in my bathroom when I was in labor with my last one just about sucked me down. I told the nurse it was an excellent way to get my water to break and that next time I would just sit there and flush until some progress was made.

Indy said...

Whoa! I can't even imagine. Kids are so much fun at age 3 when they AREN'T afaid of noises. Add noises to it and mama needs a drink.

kmbrknits said...

Been there. I sympathize.

Be grateful the jet flush was not accompanied by the insistence of the bizarre "endless tubular plastic bag seat cover of daintyness" to change itself simultaneously with the flush.

Welcome to Chicago.

I ended up with two small boys who would not actually sit on a toilet for three weeks.

The Introvert said...

I'm one of the germaphobic freaks who was flushing toilets with my feet before these things were invented. But yeah, I would've been scared of those things as a small child too. I still hate noise.

Annje said...

My daughter is the same way with loud noises. It hasn't stopped her from going to the bathroom in public, but she runs from the stall as soon as she. She also hates lawnmowers, weedeaters, blowdryers, blenders, etc. She has all the loud cars in the neighborhood scoped out. I hate the self-flushers too. Most never seem to flush when you want them to and then others when you lean slightly to one side to wipe. They suck!

Manic Mommy said...

I almost wish I had this problem. My 3-year-old has never met a toilet he didn't like.

The book idea sounds (no pun intended) like a good place to start.

Burgh Baby said...

We have suffered a very serious and debilitating setback in the realm of potty-training thanks to those crappy crappers. URGH.

Tara Smith said...

I haven't read the other comments, so maybe someone's already suggested this, but we place some toilet paper over the sensor to keep it from flushing.

Same thing happened to us. You'd have thought that my daughters were being murdered in the mall bathroom if you'd heard the screams!

JCK said...

Those toilets ARE incredibley loud. My kids hate them and it is always taking a chance in the stall that they will just suddenly engage...

Eve Grey said...

I was on a road trip with my daughter when she was about 4. We stopped at a rest stop to use the washroom. We were in a stall together and she used the toilet and I went to flush. My brand-new glasses that were on top of my head fell off into the bowl just as i flushed it. i dive bombed for them but the atomic whoosh was too strong. To this day my daughter is wary of restroom toilets and mentions it EVERY time we go in one. In summary: Hold on to your glasses while flushing.

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