Mandi Hayes-Spencer

This article, entitled "Privacy," comes from Mandi Hayes-Spencer, columnist, author and walking disaster. Learn more about Mandi on her website,

Privacy is a rarity when you’re a parent. You may crave it like there’s no tomorrow, but if you have young kids still living at home, you can just forget about it.

Your business is their business, period.

This also applies to cats, dogs, hamsters, snakes, rats, husbands and wives.

I don’t care if you’re doing a number one, a number two, taking a shower, taking a nap or hiding in the attic.

They will find you. Oh yes, they will find you.

The bathroom should belong exclusively to the person using it at any given time. When my foot crosses the threshold, landing on that chilly tile floor, it is officially my bathroom.

I shut the door, arrange myself and get to doing my business.

Maybe I want to read a book or a magazine? Read the backs of hair products? Listen to my iPod, perhaps? Heck, maybe I even want to work on a formula that will cure cancer while I sit there. Regardless, it’s my bathroom at that very moment. I should be able to do what I want.



Twenty second after I sit down, my son will come plowing in the door.

“What are you doing?” He’ll ask, standing there staring at me.

“I’m teaching myself Quantum Physics and memorizing the ingredients in the shampoo we buy. What do you think I’m doing?”

“Well, I don’t know. Looks like you’re using the bathroom, or something. Hey, can I get a popsicle?”

“Will you let me be and go eat your popsicle somewhere else?”

“Ewww, yes. I’m not gonna eat a popsicle while you’re in here!”

“Then by all means, please do.”

Out he goes, not quite shutting the door all the way on his way out.

That’s when the cat decides she wants to mosey in and check out what’s doing.

She rubs around my ankles, takes a stroll around the bathtub and plays in the sink. Then, out she goes, leaving the door wider open still.

And, what do you know? The dog decides that since the cat gets to come in, she should too.

After giving a cursory sniff of the place, she comes and props her two front feet on my knees and stares at me, tongue lolling out and tail wagging. She doesn’t actually talk, but I can almost hear her saying, “What are you doing in here? What is this place? Pet me. Please? Get me a treat.”

After a few minutes, she gives up and curls up on the bathroom rug at my feet. She’ll look up at me every now and then out of the corner of her eye like, “Man, you sure are slow. This is boring.”

Mind you, while I am being invaded by animals, the door is still wide open. It’s not like I can get up and shut it immediately.

So, I give up the good fight and get on with my business.

“Gah!” my husband says, passing by the bathroom on his way back from the kitchen.
“Why don’t you shut the door? Nobody wants to see you using the bathroom!”

“I can’t help it.” I reply, semi-annoyed that I’ve been blamed for something I didn’t do.

“The kid, the cat and the dog, all in that order, decided I needed company. They opened it.”

He shuts the door for me and for a scant few seconds, I have peace and privacy. I am finally alone.

Before I can get out so much as a sigh of relief, there’s a loud boom and the door is, again, thrown wide open.

“We don’t have any popsicles.” My son yells, his whine bouncing off the walls making me wince.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I do know that I would like you to get out of here until I’m done. Go check the bottom drawer in the freezer.”

Out he walks, the door left wide open-again.

“Hey! You left the door open!” I’ll yell. Nobody comes to help.

“What is the matter with you?”

I look up and my husband is looking at me like I’m some kind of a sicko who enjoys PDP (Public Displays of Pottying.)

“It was the kid. He wanted a Popsicle! It isn’t me!”

On a loud sigh, the door is once again, blissfully shut.

I finally get one whole minute of peace before I start to hear the tapping noise.

I look around, wondering where it’s coming from. The dog is napping, the cat is somewhere else, my husband is off pondering my need to potty in front of the world and my son is eating a popsicle.

“You in there?” my son asks, his voice buffered behind the wooden door.

It’s my son again.

“Yes. Why?”

Back in he comes, popsicle in hand.

“I found one; just wanted to let you know.”

“Good. Thank you for telling me. I feel so much better now.”

“No problem.”

Right back out he goes, the door of course, wide open.

And, yet again, here comes my husband.

“Mandi, you are a freak! I know you’re doing that on purpose! What is the matter with you? Geeze!”

I take a deep breath. I count to ten.

I lose it.

“What? Can a girl not use the restroom in peace around here? Can I not just get one minute of freaking quiet? And where are you going that you’re passing by here so often? Is there a marathon taking place out there? A pacing contest? Can you all just wait outside until I’m finished? Can we finish this conversation later?”

Frowning and clearly offended, he replies, “Well, you don’t have to be so rude. I’ll shut the door and leave you alone if you promise to quit opening it.”

My eyelid starts to twitch. Sensing danger, my dog goes back out with my husband.

I sit and I wait, nobody comes. I can’t believe it.

I pick my magazine back up and open the cover.

Finally, peace. Everyone is busy. Now is my chance.

Then comes the knock.

“Mom! I gotta use the restroom! Hurry! I’m gonna pee my pants! You’ve been in there for two hundred hours, already!”

All I want is five minutes. Is that too much to ask?

I’m going to install twenty door locks and a security alarm on the door. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a break.

I seriously doubt it.

Until next week, remember: If I go missing for an extended period of time, don’t worry. I’m planning on having a Porta-Potty installed in a top secret location where nobody can find me. I’ll show back up when I’m done.

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