Bathroom stories always become unfortunate when you throw your grandma and/or mom into the picture. Even off the top of my head, I remember grandma’s sliding door bathtub, my brother Jared, and a fresh bottle of shampoo, all of which were a perfect muse for what we liked to call “Bubble World”. The sliding glass wall worked perfectly to support the surging level of foam that climbed over our heads. The Kingdom of Bubble World was promptly invaded by my grandma’s hands, prying holes in our bubble fortress. “I can’t believe this! Y’all used an entire bottle of my shampoo!” (Such a humbling moment of play.) We tried to prove there wasn’t anything to fuss about. We’d just clean it up. Easy. But turning the shower on exacerbated the bubble situation, so by the end of bath time an hour later, our pruny little fingers were still desperately shoving bubbles down the drain to try and drown them.
So where does the bathroom-grandma-story and toilet picture come into play? Am I going to tell about the time I ran out of my baseball dugout and into the women’s bathroom to poop on the floor? Sadly no, but earlier tonight I read “Problems” by Molly Gaudry, which accounts her first memory, which happens to involve herself, her grandma, her mom, and a toilet. Shortly after beginning to read, the reader finds the toddler Molly, formerly known as Jung Sun Hee, has just been adopted, and on the way home she, her mother and her grandma have stopped at a McDonalds to pee.
Gaudry remembers how at that time, “according to the Korean adoption agency [she was] potty-trained.” From there she uses her adoption résumé as a medium to describe herself saying, “I am a sweet child, understand a little English and get along well with others…I regard large men with suspicion and have a tendency to chew my hair.”
Using this technique, she subtly reveals a negative slant on adoption. She doesn’t seem to like that her name was changed to an American name, as I mentioned before. Also, she says it is common for adopting parents to change the child’s birthday to the day they first come home. Maybe it was just me, but I did have a small WTF moment when I read this. Just when I was prepared to shake my fist defiantly at the injustice of these customs of adoption, Gaudry ended her story saying, “I have had problems—problems using public restrooms—ever since.” Clearly her essay was rearing back for a punch (and I was prepared to get smacked right in the face), but the kinetic energy of her writing was wasted. She thinks she got away with that, but I know that is not the real ending to her story!
I popped her bubble.