Who teaches us how to go to the bathroom? Usually, our parents. Where did they learn?
From one end to the other, literally, our parents taught us certain bathroom basics. The bath itself. Brushing teeth. Included in the hygiene regimen when we’re children is what to do with ourselves when we tinkle or trickle, respectively. And, to wipe appropriately, whether it’s tinkle or trickle or the number two that needs a more thorough wiping.
While aiming for the toilet is a bit more difficult for little boys than little girls, the process is exactly the same when both sit down for a well deserved episode of number two. Then comes the wiping– the hand to bottom cleaning effort for both little boys and girls. Who teaches that?
Again, usually it’s the parents.
The problem here is that there isn’t much teaching going on, and, at least in earlier years, probably not much cleaning going on, either. Sit down, wait until it’s gone, wipe up what’s left. What’s so difficult about that? Billions of humans for thousands of years have done pretty much the same thing the same way (although it might be better not to know what people used before there was toilet paper).
Enter Charmin. It’s squeezably soft and one of the first bathroom hygiene lessons learned right after brushing teeth and washing with soap. But with Charmin, or your choice of toilet paper, there’s room for technique.
The world can be divided into various groups and sub-groups. In the case of Charmin, we’re either folders or wadders. Do you fold your Charmin, or wad your Charmin?
Not even depending on which group you belong, where did you learn the technique? As you grew up did you change the technique? Did you switch from one to the other? If so, why?
Wiping with Charmin (or your two-ply or three-ply equivalent– no one uses single ply anymore) is one of the earliest instructions that stays with us our entire life. You would think there would be more instructions on the subject of How To Use Charmin.
I’m not really a wadder, but I’m not a neat and pristine folder, either. I’m somewhere in between. I pull out about 18 inches of Charmin, then let it cascade into soft folds until it reaches what I consider the appropriate length to hold properly, and with what I determine to be a sufficient number of loose folds.
At that point, I take my loose flowing but organized creation, and scrunch the folds in the middle, specifically on the side opposite where the actual wiping takes place. That part wads up a bit and that’s the part I hold on to. The rest stays in something that resembles a loose but controlled fold.
See? I’m certain no one has ever explained the process to you in that much detail about what should be a simple, nearly innate process that all of us go through, regularly, but with such straightforward language and in such dignity. And clarity.
Well, maybe not.
Our parents, or some other adult with supervision over our childhood, taught us traditional bathroom hygiene. I’m certain there was no mention of folding, or wadding, or how many times it’s necessary to repeat either technique, or whether the respective techniques can be combined, and if so, to what degree
We need a license to drive a car. We need a license to get married. Instructions and advice are available for each, respectively from every library and across the internet. Where’s the instruction manual for wiping? What’s the best technique? Is there an independent study which rates various grades of toilet paper? Should the technique vary from man to woman?
I know for a fact that I did not pass along such beneficially instructive lessons to my children. Why? Because no one passed it along to me. As it is with most of us, I had to learn about it on the streets.
Oh, the shame.