Monday, November 13, 2006

When You Raise Your Children in Bangladesh. . .

Two things - one, I was perched on my chair trying to pull off my boot to put a band-aid on a blister. And I fell off the chair. And the second is that I was just reading a Citizen of the Month post on waiting for women's rooms, and how men wouldn't wait, they'd just pee on the wall.

Both these things together reminded me that I used to pee standing up. And my brother, he had a little trouble getting the hang of the toilet.

It's not as odd as it sounds. I mean, OK, yes, it is as odd as it sounds. But here's the thing. By the time I decided I wanted to be a boy (which, in case you're wondering, I'm not - it was just a phase) we'd moved from India, where I was born, to Bangladesh. Both very sexist, male-dominated countries. And I grew up in a Men Are God household.

And so it made sense that when I saw my brother being able to do whatever he wanted, I decided that I'd rather be a boy. And one of the things boys did was pee standing up. And so I went through a phase - might've even lasted 6 months, where I refused to pee sitting down. I got really good at it.

I haven't tried for years, but the last time I did, it was pretty successful. You just have to place your feet pretty far apart, lean back and get a good angle. It's best not to be wearing pants, just in case.

Now, my brother, on the other hand, got used to squatting to take a poo. We had regular toilets in our house, but in a lot of the places we went, you would squat over a hole in the floor. Or if we were outside somewhere, well, our Bangladeshi nanny would just tell us to pull down our pants and squat.

This was all well and good in the countries we lived in. But as little kids, we didn't really differentiate between social mores in Dkaha, Bangladesh, or Minot, North Dakota. And so one summer when my brother was about four, we went to Minot to visit our relatives.

We were out shopping and my brother had to go to the bathroom. So my mom sent him into the men's room and we waited. And waited. 10 minutes went by. Then 15. My mom poked her head in and yelled his name, and he yelled that he was fine.

Finally, finally he emerged.

My mom asked, "What took so long, sweetheart?"

"Well, I had to poo."

"Honey, that was a very long time. Was everything OK?"

"Yes, mom. It just took a long time to put my boots and my jeans back on."

"Why did you take them off?"

As it turns out, he'd adapted his toilet habits to the following: When faced with a hole-in-the-floor toilet, he'd just squat. He knew what to do. However, when faced with a regular toilet, well, he'd modified his approach. The little guy would climb up on top of the toilet seat to squat. This required the removal of half of his clothing.

It was a long process.

My father told us recently that when we moved to the US for the first time a couple years later, he and my brother were hanging out in a park in DC - my dad reading a newspaper and my brother playing.

My dad looked up when a busload of tourists started congregating on the edge of the park and pointing. He peered over his newspaper in the direction of their attention, to find my brother calmly taking a poo in a flower bed.

I asked him what he did. He said "Looked horrified, pretended I'd never seen him in my life, and went back to my newspaper! What else would I do?"

Well, yeah. What else would you do?

1 comment:

  1. OMG! I've spent most of the morning reading you first year of posts and while I can't deny that they are all quoteworthy, I must say that this one truly takes the cake...or the poo as it were.


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