What’s so bad about toilet water, anyway?
So the other day, mommy was making dinner and it was crunch time. It was Friday, late afternoon. Daddy had to work late, so mommy had to feed and bathe us and get ready for work, plus make dinner for her and daddy, all in time to basically high-five him as he rolled in and she rolled out. She was in the midst of mixing brown rice pasta with veggies and garlic, looking a smidge frantic, pulling off the cooking wine every so often, squeezing lemon, sprinkling parmesan, blah blah blah, when I saw an opportunity to utilize her distracted state of mind. Rat Baby, she loves to follow me. So follow she did, into the forbidden room of the parental unit, where there are drawers and drawers of beaded bracelets and necklaces to stretch and break into a million balls that serve as perfect choking hazards for Leona. But I took it a step further. I led her into the bathroom, a cesspool of germs and bacteria, where miniscule fragments of poop and urine splashes decorate cupboards and shower doors and rugs and tile. There, an open toilet bowl sit waiting for some jolly good times. After I got her propped up against the bowl, I taught her how to unravel the toilet paper roll. I saw the glint in her eye and knew that this would be fun for all involved. Next, we put the unravelled paper into the water. Here, Leona took over and started splashing and swirling the paper around until long sheets became squishy little spit-waddy globs. Let’s disregard the fact that we’ve been alone in the bathroom now for over three whole minutes, and it is likely that were I interested in drowning The Rat, it would already be a done deal. But she’s kind of a sassy little shit. She likes to get in trouble with me and I need to remember how important an ally is when your mother is an angry drunk and your father leaves you home with her all fucking day. With peels of laughter, Leona discovered that pulling the squishy globs out of the toilet and littering the bathroom floor with them made an appealing kind of hiss-thud-fart noise. She really started to giggle as she violently hurled the globs all around her. And I just stepped back, out of the bathroom, leaning against mommy’s bed, waiting for The Rat to catch some all-holy hell from mommy. Sure enough, about forty seconds later, I heard the bass of mommy’s oncoming footsteps reverberating off the hallway floor. Where are you guys? she asked, her voice heavy with suspicion. She discovered us in all our glory–me, completely out of the picture, watching innocently from outside the crime scene, and Leona, wide-eyed and smiley, drops of toilet water beaded across her forehead and cheeks. When she saw mommy, she was foolish enough to think mommy would want to play the game too, so she dove into that toilet again for another wad and threw it on the floor in front of mommy’s feet, shrieking with laughter. Mommy abhorred the whole act, grabbing her up off the floor with a lightning speed that only a mommy has in the face of fecal bacteria. I thought mommy would throw The Rat against the wall in a fit of rage, maybe put her in a two-hour time-out, or at least slap her hands lightly for immersing them in the poop and pee-pee pool. But no. This did not happen. Instead, she set her sights on me. It was like slow motion. She swiveled her head–which I seriously thought would go the full 360 degrees–and rested her black eyes on me. They were narrowed little slits of bona fide fury.
You KNOW better than this, young man, she spat, shavings of ice in her voice.
My mouth went agape. Are you fucking kidding me, man? I have to take the fall for this bullshit? Leona goes nose-diving into the shallow end of the San Jose sewage system and I’m the one that takes the heat? I really had no words. I shrugged my shoulders in a feeble attempt to respond to the preposterous allegations. Mommy pointed at me. I thought fire or acid or both might shoot out her finger.
YOU don’t ever take Leona into the bathroom again or you will end up in the longest time-out of your life, do you understand me?
I could only look at her with dubious disbelief.
There are disgusting germs in bathrooms that can make you sick and babies are not allowed to crawl around in them! Do you understand me?
Maybe a can of Comet and some fucking Sno-Bowl would go a long way, then, hag.
Don’t let it happen again, Augusten. I’m not kidding. You’re the big brother. You’re supposed to teach her how to be a good girl.
Hmm. Yeah. I definitely never signed on THAT fucking dotted line. Regardless, I nodded shamefully and left the room. Leona was still clapping her hands and giggling while a distressed mommy washed her hands and face. You know, I wasn’t even that mad after a while. I have found a vessel in The Rat. She is going to carry out some of my wrongest-doings ever in life, and it will only be a matter of time before she has to take the fall for doing exactly what I tell her to. So go ahead and project your rage on the wrong child for now, mommy. Just wait. I am molding your precious little Leona into a child villain that will make the Gusman look like he came from the womb of Mother Teresa. She’s going to break every fucking time-out record I ever set.
Then you can take your pointing finger and shove it up your ass.