I was excited to finally be of age for kindergarten, but the anxiety of the new situation got the best of me. All the colored chairs, the cylinders of crayons, the bulletin boards with vibrant animals, numbers, and shapes lurking in overwhelming playfulness. It was all too much. As our meek tour of unwilling five year olds continued we followed our mysteriously aloof teacher out into the foreboding hallway, down sleek loud linoleum floors, and there before us loomed the doorway of the omniprescent children's bathroom. I was not deceived by the deceptively friendly "girls" sign perched on the red door.
We entered the echoey room, rows of stalls with 18 inch tall toilets and sinks just our size lined the walls. My teacher was oblivious to the awkwardness of the situation as she began talking.
"Now boys and girls. See this right here," she said in a very serious tone, gesturing to a massive, ugly pipe coming out of the wall, "Whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THIS"
Fear riddled my body. Obviously, were I to touch the offending object, terrible things would happen. Monsters would fly out of the pipes, dragons with sharp pointed teeth and shooting fire balls. When we returned to the classroom, I hunkered down in my plastic orange chair, miserable, unable to let go of the images of the Pipe of Dread.
In the days to come, I refused to go to the bathroom at school. I held it. All day long. I didn't drink so that I wouldn't be likely to need to go. But one day it happened. My bladder was FULL. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't possibly enter the bathroom with the Pipe of Dread. I was about to bust, and started crying. The teacher came over to ask me what was wrong, but I was too scared to answer her.
"I'm sick, I need to go home," I sobbed.
"Do you have a sore throat?"
"No," I said in a small voice.
"Does your stomach hurt?"
"No," I whispered.
"Do you need to go to the bathroom?"
"NO!!!" I said, shaking my head emphatically.
"Then you can't go home," she said, returning to the chalkboard.
I squirmed in my seat. I tried to will away the urge. But it was beyond willing away. Finally, it was too much. I sat in horror as a stream of urine ran through my green plaid dress and dripped down off my tiny orange chair to the floor. For the rest of the day, I sat in my own pee, too scared to move.
When I got home that afternoon, I was immediately busted.
"Lisa, why is your dress wet?" about two seconds after I walked in the door. And so, I relayed my sob story to my mom. She took me back that afternoon and made me go back into the bathrooms with her. She showed me that there was nothing to fear. That the Pipe of Dread was just part of the fire alarm sprinkler system, and that it wasn't 'out to get me'. And after that, I was no longer scared to use the bathroom at school.
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