Privacy becomes an issue for a father and daughter in a two-room apartment.
I tried to introduce the idea of your space/my space when the Little Girl was a toddler, but she didn’t like it. Many bathroom pop-ins ensued.
Once, she dumped a bag of pita chips on the bathroom floor as I showered. I asked her why she did it, but she gave me a look that said she felt that the question was beneath her.
When the Little Girl was 3, I explained that people have “privates” that no one else should see.
Soon afterward, she’d burst into the john as I showered (my locking the door had freaked her out too much), pull back the curtain and scold, “Da-da, I don’t wanna see your privates.”
“I don’t want you to either,” I sputtered. “Get out!”
As my daughter got older, I grew uneasy about her bath time. When should a father absent himself from the process? Fearing the wrath of Children’s Services, an attorney told me to stay out of the room when she bathed. It made me feel bad, because I loved sitting beside the tub and talking to her as she played in the water.
My pediatrician got angry when I said I was considering the attorney’s advice. A parent should be in the bathroom while a child bathes until the kid is 4, or even 5 years old, the doctor said. His fear wasn’t drowning, but the chance that the child could slip and sustain a head injury.
I compromised, going into the bathroom to help her wash her hair, and then to supervise her stepping out of the tub when she was done. My daughter cried for a while, begging me to stay in the room with her the whole time. Feeling that the choice was either to abandon her or to be potentially inappropriate, I didn’t think I could win, and it was a tough time for us.
It’s no longer an issue now that she’s 7 and an accomplished solo bather. And it’s becoming obvious that the Little Girl is considering her own privacy, often asking me to turn around when she dresses. This feels comfortable and right.
Happily, she no longer stalks me and does the “Psycho” shower curtain pullback, although she will occasionally lob rubber balls, dolls and other stuff into the tub as I shower, just to keep me on my toes.
I figure as long as she’s not tossing in the radio, she must still love me.