Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Bathroom Story

I look down at my Son as he smiles at me. "Don't worry Dad, you totally look like a girl, you'll do just fine!" His confidence is reassuring. "Thank-you" I reply, "You go ahead, I'm going to worry a little more okay?" He smiles and heads into the bathroom. I marvel how easy it is for him, how easy it was for me. We are at Nakiska skiing on a planned Father and Son outing which we have planned for many months. The bathrooms here are among the busiest I have seen, and waiting in line at the women's washroom was too much... I mean, I would just be standing there in line, waiting to be judged... so I have held it in. Finally, it seems that there is at least no line going outside of the washroom, and its time to not let fear control me. I reassure myself, and begin walking toward my goal. Two girls chatting together walk in slightly ahead of me. For whatever reason, this scares me and I turn around and walk back to the entrance. Back to my corner. I begin to think to myself, "people looking at me must think that I'm a total pervert! Wait... stop that! Don't let your mind wander. There is never a perfect moment, just go". My son will be due out of the washroom soon, and I would like to at least be inside by then, he's been such an encouragement. I am so fortunate to have a supportive family.

And with that in mind, I'm able to walk in to the washroom.

It is mostly empty, with a few gals washing their hands, minding there own business. I look for a stall, and finding one, go inside, lock the door, and with gratitude, release the pain of hours of patience.

Truth be told, I've never had an altercation in the washroom yet. So far, the women have been for the most part, kind and accepting. Yet, I still wonder, while I'm sitting down doing my duty, "what if someone asks me for some toilet paper? Do I sound female enough? Do I look female enough?"

And then there's the media. Virginie reminds me often, that they just "focus on fear". It makes sense... Every species on the planet is hard wired to pay close attention to fear. It is our collective survival instinct. There has been a lot of media attention about it lately.

Last week I was walking into the women's washroom at work. As I entered, I looked over to see another gal heading to the same spot. When she saw me going in, she stopped, and turned around.

I keep reminding myself that I don't know her reasons for the change if mind, if even a change of mind took place, but it sure seems that way, and so the mind sometimes goes in circles trying to make sense of it.

I completely understand that a woman wouldn't want to go into the bathroom with a man. It would be weird and scary. The irony of the situation is, is that I actually feel normal now (yes, as in not weird) and while I won't, I could actually quantify this statement.

Honestly, I don't think it's the governments job to write rules about bathroom use... it just complicates the situation. In computer science, we often talk about the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). When writing software, don't write more than you need to, and when writing, give the components of your software a simple, identifiable, reportable job. Each component is responsible for doing its job, and reporting on its progress.

For bathrooms, we need to be teaching our children basic principles of safety. Don't leave with a stranger, don't let people touch you what we taught our children as "their special spot", and to smile and be kind to others. With these things in mind, every individual can be responsible for their safety. Simple, identifiable, reportable.

I realize people are not computers, but this is not my point. My point is the KISS principle. Being kind to someone in the bathroom does not endanger us. With the proper information, we can all be kind, and safe.

I've spent too much time fearing over the bathroom. My plight to all is to be kind, honest, and smart. Let's not blow this issue out of proportion. Creating a beautiful culture in our society does not come from the top down (governments to people) it comes from the bottom up.

This is what we do when we love someone.


  1. Stephanie, I never imagined how scary things are for you - simple things like just going to the correct bathroom! For most people, it is so straightforward. But for you, you want to do what feels right for you, but still worry about the feelings of others. Knowing you has opened my eyes and helped me to be much more accepting of others - we are all fighting our own battles.

  2. Stephanie, we give our power away when we try to please everyone. It is funny how over the years we name all of the discriminations and expect that by changing names on how we label things that it makes it more politically correct. People however are people. Kids bully kids and look for people who do not fit into their idea of normal, they learn this from their parents.

    When we were kids we wanted to fit in, we didn't want to be different, different made us a target.
    In our teens we wanted to be excepted but we started to choose groups that represented our being different. Goth, jocks,nerds and average joe's.

    In our 30's we felt imposed on to raise our kids in ways that wouldn't attract attention, we didn't want to appear as though we were failing at parenthood.

    In our 40's we begin to realize we are wasting far too much energy worrying about what other people think, we start to get comfortable in our own skin, if only it still looked like it did when I was 16, ha ha.

    The most important lesson I have learned is that you are no different than anyone else. When you go outside you look in the mirror and hope you look your best. You worry about what others think of you, yet you spend no time thinking about others.

    This is true for them, you worry about what they think about you when all they think about is themselves. Take comfort in knowing it is a human quality we all share, we are a little self centered and more concerned with how we appear than others. We would even be disappointed to realize we never crossed their thoughts. Try to think about how many faces you remember seeing in the bathroom. What did you think about them, what remains now in your mind of your encounter with them.

    There are always insecure people who go out of their way to make other people feel worse in an effort for them to feel better. Feel sorry for them as they are trying to hide their own pain by making it yours.

    The good news is, there aren't that many of them in a toilet line.

    We are all insecure, some lash out, some reach out and some hide. You my dear need to own your spot on this earth and live an authentic life. You need to not think of yourself as the center of everyone else's concern and as you tell your kids, just be kind to others. People will notice that more as it is in short supply. Be generous of spirit and they will remember you for that. How you step through life is your choice, but do it knowing that your kids will follow your footprints one day.

    The lesson they take from this is yours to teach, you are a mentor to them and many others, so don't put the weight of the world on yourself, tread lightly and be grateful.