Friday, December 23, 2011

Bathroom Breaks

As a school librarian it is my responsibility to manage the collection and match kids to books.  After two years of graduate school, these responsibilities were pretty clear to me.  However, what I didn't learn in grad school was that part of my job description included being the bathroom gatekeeper.  During one 35 minute class I am asked, no less than 5 times, to use the restroom. 

When I started (and didn't know any better), I let kids go use the bathroom whenever they asked.  Who am I to deny someone a trip to the bathroom? It seems like a God given right to be able to relieve yourself whenever you'd like.  I mean, when is the last time you had to ask permission to use the bathroom? It's kind of demeaning! Every time a kid asked me to go the bathroom, all I could think about was that scene from The Shawshank Redemption where the old guy is working in the grocery store after he's released from prison and asks the manager if he can use the bathroom and the manager is like, "What the hell.  This is real life.  Adults don't ask to use the bathroom." (he didn't really say it like that, but you get the point).  Long story short, I had kids leaving class to use the bathroom all the damn time

As you can imagine, that didn't fly for too long.  Especially after I found out most of these kids weren't using their bathroom break to actually go to the bathroom.  Nope.  "Going to the bathroom" was also code for skipping down the hallway, wetting down their hair in the sink, playing with the hand dryer, getting a drink, etc.  Basically, any other activity besides actually emptying their miniature bladders.  I also found out that most teachers only allow their kids a certain number of bathroom breaks a day (other than breaks taken by the whole class).  So basically, these kids had my number and were using me to get a little extra hand dryer time in their day.  Not okay.  After about a month of this, the Library Bathroom Act of 2010 was passed and library time is much better for it.

What I didn't know is that my job as Bathroom Gatekeeper extends far beyond the school day.  This week I was helping a gentleman purchase perfume for his wife at Macy's (I have a part time job there, in case you're confused).  As I'm extolling the many virtues of Estee Lauder's Sensuous Nude perfume (of which there are many) I feel someone tap me on the elbow.  I turn and see M, a first grade student I adore.  "Hey honey, what's up? Shopping with your Mom?", I say.  M shakes his head and very seriously responds, "Can I go to the bathroom?".   Not even skipping a beat, I point him towards the bathroom and he goes on his merry way.  I turn back to my customer and he looks very confused.  I explained that he was one of my students, but he still didn't seem to understand.  Clearly he is unaware that teachers, among their many other duties, are also the Gatekeepers of Bathrooms.


  1. 1. I figured this would include a peeing pants story or at least mention of one class in particular who comes in after recess and asks ALL THE TIME.
    2. Teacher Hours are non-existent. Seriously, it never ends and they never look at you as anything but the teacher. A lady today asked me at a checkout if I am a teacher. As if something about me in my sweats and grubby get-up and messy hair screams teacher?! I wasn't even wearing my badge! ?!

  2. PS...I read this again and laughed so hard again! I am going to miss you!