herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Jillian Bolger: 'Er Hello, bathroom designers - have you ever heard of kids?'

Small Children can't reach adult-sized wash basins. Can someone, please, remember the children?

'Despite the modern myth that the bathroom should be a sanctuary, mine couldn't be further from the notion.'
'Despite the modern myth that the bathroom should be a sanctuary, mine couldn't be further from the notion.'

Should you find yourself outside my house on bath night I wouldn't blame you if you thought you'd stumbled upon a mass torture session. My three kids are still small enough to fit snugly in the bath together and generally love bath time with its promise of bubbly playtime. They eagerly dash upstairs but their joy almost always turns to tears when the hair washing starts.

Tears, in fact, is an understatement. The two boys scream hysterically like they are being drowned.

My first reaction is to close the bathroom window in panic. The howling and shrieking is nothing short of horror movie drama as water splashes into their eyes.

Their younger sister, amusingly, is the picture of serenity. She loves the water rushing over her head and sits perfectly behaved while her hair is lathered and washed. I imagine we are not the only parents whose blood pressure rockets as we try, innocently, to bathe our kids.

HYSTERIA

Despite the modern myth that the bathroom should be a sanctuary, mine couldn't be further from the notion. Aside from the hair washing hysteria my two boys seem horribly apathetic about toilet etiquette.

The eldest seems to find emptying his bladder a poor use of his valuable time, so tries to make his pit-stops as quick as is physically possible.

The problem with these flying visits is his mind is usually elsewhere, which results in poor concentration on the job at hand. Put not so delicately, his aim in dreadful.

While he specialises in decorating the walls and back of the cistern his younger brother is quite the expert at peeing on the floor and toilet seat.

It's the trade off for having boys, I suppose, and I live in hope that their hygiene standards and bathroom concentration improves with age.

Public bathrooms present a different kind of challenge, and not just for my kids. It seems that few bathroom designers have considered the possibility that kids might actually want to wash their hands.

Just look around! High counters and taps at the back of basins are all designed for adults - and don't get me started on wall-mounted soap dispensers.

Just how is a child supposed to wash when their chin barely reaches up to the edge of the basin?

Sure, a parent can pick them up, but it's a damn awkward ritual that ensues. Some of us scoop them up with one arm while balancing them precariously on a hip.

Others wedge them on the counter hoping they won't dive bomb into the sink while we attempt to wash their hands with breakneck speed. And, heaven forbid, we send our small but responsible child to the loo unaccompanied. They wouldn't stand a chance in hell at getting their hands washed alone.

Is it ridiculous to assume that bathroom designers are all childless beings? Is it unfair to surmise that they have never accompanied a little person to the bathroom in a restaurant or café or shopping centre?

Once in a blue moon I come across a mini washbasin especially designed for kids and it makes me smile. But then it makes me cross.

If some smart soul has had the cop-on to accommodate children isn't it bizarre this move can't be universally replicated? Is it too much to ask that our kids can please wash their hands, too?

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