I came as close as I’ve come in my adult life to shitting myself in public today.
Yeah, buckle up, buttercup, it’s gonna be one of those kinds of posts.
Y’all have been here a while: what do you think is my least favorite thing about teaching? Is it paperwork? Lesson planning? Grading? Discipline? Dealing with students who don’t want to be there and don’t intend to allow anyone else to get an education but still manifestly refuse to stay the fuck home like they ought to?
Nah. It’s the fact that I can’t go take a shit when I need to.
Every so often someone will get pissy (no pun intended) with me about the idea that kids need permission from teachers to go to the bathroom. Without wading into that conversation too deeply, I write a lot of bathroom passes during the day, and basically my only rule about it is that it’s not happening if 1) I’m actively teaching, 2) You seem to be more interested in fucking around in the halls than taking a piss, or 3) I can’t actually think of a third reason but these things don’t work well in binaries. Even then, I’m likely to let you go anyway if you look like you really need to go.
But what about girls and their peeeeeeerioooooods, the nonsense-speakers shriek.
I can assure you that after eighteen years of teaching girls at or around the age of menarche I have encountered every period-related problem that it is possible for a male teacher to encounter and I’ve got the shit covered. Your kid still can’t get up and go to the bathroom whenever they want, because inevitably the exact same people who think their precious babies should be able to leave my room whenever the mood strikes them also would be excessively angry if they ever attempted to collect their child from school and the teacher’s response was “I have no idea where this kid is.”
The point is, as restrictive or liberal as any teacher might be about their personal bathroom policies, a simple fact remains: while at least in theory we can let a kid out to go use the bathroom whenever we want, unless we happen to have another adult in the room with us, which is much rarer than it should be, we can never go use the bathroom, because we can’t leave our students alone. And I’mma be blunt here: I don’t drink coffee in the morning any longer because coffee has certain specific effects on me that I don’t have time for in the morning, and if I don’t have an adult in the room with me during 5th and 6th hour, which are the two class periods after lunch, there is going to be a problem, because I can’t make it an hour and a Goddamn half after lunch without a bathroom break.
I normally have a paraprofessional in the room with me, but the science teacher was out today and he was covering her class. Her practice is generally to bring her whole class out for the last couple minutes of the period for– you guessed it– a bathroom break, and I was so close to a disaster that I walked out into the hallway and told him he was just going to have to find a way to watch that room (it’s next door) and mine for the next couple of minutes and bolted for the bathroom.
The boys’ bathroom is directly across the hall from my room. And I have proven today that I will not use the kids’ bathroom under any circumstances, because if I didn’t use it today, I’m never using it.
There are two adult bathrooms that I am legally able to use on my floor. Both have one toilet. If the one I’d gone to had been occupied, I’d have been fucked.
I will spare you the details. Let’s just say that the tolerances were milliseconds and centimeters, respectively, and that I didn’t have to clean anything up afterwards that I don’t normally have to clean up.
And that is my least favorite thing about teaching.