The Kindergarten Bathroom Incident


I have never liked not knowing things. It’s something about me that has positively impacted my life in a lot of ways, but has led to some pretty bad habits, too.

When I was five years old I moved from Aurora, Colorado to Sandwich, Massachusetts. Everything was different. No mountains, too many pine trees. Altitude changes so drastic I had nosebleeds almost every night. Bigger room, smaller house, etc. But the thing that absolutely, irrevocably changed my world was the onesie bathroom conveniently located inside my kindergarten classroom.

Oh yeah. I could get used to this kind of luxury.

I invented reasons to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t even trying to get out of work, I just couldn’t get over the novelty of not even having to leave the comfort of the book nook to pee. Circle time? Let me just pop on in to the ladies’ room first. We’re reading Clifford? BRB, quick pee break. On one such excursion I noticed something I hadn’t before—a metallic little fixture just above the door knob. Now, we had locks in Colorado so I knew what this was and, drunk on kindergarten power, I locked the door and peed.

I was feeling pretty full of myself until I finished washing my hands (model 5 year old citizen) and tried to unlock the door. It wouldn’t budge. In retrospect, I probably just didn’t twist it hard enough, but I panicked and convinced myself it was either broken or I wasn’t doing it right.

It felt like I was in there for hours when Sam, the classroom nice guy/the love of my life knocked on the door.

“You’ve been in there forever. It’s my turn.”

I froze. Despite our obvious chemistry, I was painfully shy and had never actually spoken to Sam in my life. The first words I uttered to him would absolutely not be “Sorry, Sam, I accidentally locked myself in.”

“Mrs. McArdle, Valerie won’t come out of the bathroom.”

There were two Mrs. McArdle’s in my elementary school—kindergarten Mrs. McArdle and first grade Mrs. McArdle. The former was the nicest teacher in the school and the latter was Satan.

“Valerie,” Nice Mrs. McArdle cooed, “is everything okay in there? Sam says you’re refusing to come out. Is that true?”

Alright, sure. I’d play it that way. It wasn’t that I couldn’t figure out how to work a simple lock, it was defiance. Hell yeah, Mrs. M, I’m refusing to come out.

I don’t know how long we stood at a stalemate for, but when you’re pretending to barricade yourself in your kindergarten onesie bathroom and you’re pretty sure you just caused Sam to pee his pants, everything feels like a really long time.

Eventually a firefighter came and forcibly opened the door.

Okay, so in retrospect it was probably just the school resource officer, but I swore at the time it was a firefighter.

But that’s not the point. The point is that rather than admitting I couldn’t figure out how to operate a simple deadbolt, I allowed my teacher to call emergency services to extricate me from a bathroom.

I tried to look badass when I walked out. Sam stood flabbergasted in a puddle of his own pee. (Admittedly this was going to put a strain on our relationship.) I slung my Simba backpack over one shoulder (one shoulder felt right), and leaned into my newfound reputation.

Here’s the thing—I still don’t like being wrong, but I know that if we all walk around pretending we’re always right we’ll wind up locked inside a proverbial onesie bathroom.