My daughter has an imaginary friend. His name is Eel. He is not, in fact, an eel. She very sternly reminds us of this on a regular basis. “Eel is NOT an eel, Mama. His name is just Eel.”
He does however, change shapes (sometimes he’s a bird, or a tiger, or a ghost pirate). And he shows up at the most inopportune times.
One evening I was cooking dinner in the kitchen, and Susan was helping me. Suddenly she announces she needs to poop. “Oh, bug, go potty. Hollar if you need anything.” (Poor choice of words on my part, of course).
She leaves and goes to the potty. (She’s been doing this for ages and it’s like 10 feet away from me so no, I didn’t send her off to injure herself or drown in the toilet because I wasn’t watching her, so chill).
After about 90 seconds I hear her screaming in the bathroom. This child is seriously yelling at the top of her lungs. I immediately drop the knife I’m using (almost cutting off a finger in the process – motherhood is a hazardous undertaking) and rush over to the bathroom. As I run over there I realize these are actual words she is yelling, not just screaming.
“EEL! TURN AROUND! I’M TRYING TO POOP! I NEED PRIVACY! STOP LOOKING AT ME! STOP LOOKING! NO! TURN AROUND! I NEED TO POOP! EEL! STOP IT! THAT’S NOT NICE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEL I’M TRYING TO POOOOOOOOP!”
This goes on for a solid 60 seconds with me standing outside of the bathroom alternating between blinding rage at the screaming that doesn’t even involve one of my actual children (it’d been one of those kind of days) and stifling hysterical laughter (I mean, after all, she’s flipping out because her imaginary friend that’s entirely fabricated from her own imagination, won’t give her privacy so she can poop. I mean, Susan has always been very private about her poop. Other people’s genitalia, running outside naked, asking her daddy about his penis, that’s all fine and dandy, but walk into the bathroom while she’s trying to drop a deuce – oh hell no.)
I am thisclose to yanking open the bathroom door and screaming at her to STFU. I, somehow, manage to take a deep breath and think about the positive parenting, hippy bull shit that I try to employ every day when dealing with the ridiculous, high strung, hyperactive, ball of emotions that is my three year old.
I knock on the door.
“Honey, is there a problem?”
“Eel won’t turn around so I can poop.”
“Okay, I’m coming in.”
I slowly open the door and address the empty air in front of the toilet.
“Eel, I think you need to come out of the bathroom. Susan is having a difficult time using the toilet with an audience. Why don’t you come out here and wait with me until she is finished?” I extend my hand, again, to the THIN FUCKING AIR in front of the toilet.
“Mama, he’s over there.” pointing to the stool next to the sink. I redirect my attention.
“Okay, Eel. Let’s go. Susan will be done soon and then you guys can resume playing.”
“Mama?” she pipes up in a very calm, quiet, rational voice.
“Eel can stay.”
“Oh, are you sure? It seemed like you were needing some privacy. Eel is welcome to stay with you but I’m going to need you to not scream at him while you’re trying to use the bathroom. Do you think you can do that?”
“Yes, Mama. Eel can stay.”
“Okay. Let me know if you have any other problems.”
I call that one a severe parenting win. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I had to escort a figment of my daughter’s imagination out of the bathroom so she could have some privacy while taking a dump.
Yup. This is my life. Good thing I love it.