Being a baby is probably hard. You can’t use words to effectively communicate so you have to use a mix of cries, Obama-sized hopes and the baby version of prayers to see even the most minimal of desires through. For instance, if you’re a baby and you’re hungry you have to just cry that thing out until somebody hopefully older and wiser than you realizes that it’s time for you to be fed. Babies have it rough. Even the best cared-for of babies has to play the Ineffective Communication Game until they either pick up words or sign language.
Which is why I have some empathy for my 1-year-old, who has taken to flushing the toilet incessantly; it’s probably the most transactional control he’s experienced to date. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s not entirely true. He has also discovered how to turn off the cable box in the middle of the best part of any show. But let’s focus on the toilet since, well, it’s a toilet and there’s something supremely enjoyable—though expensive—about watching my baby boy flush the toilet over and over again because he is in control of the flushing noise.
I don’t quite remember when he discovered that he could flush the toilet. He only just started walking walking (my parents will understand that one) some weeks ago. But once he did he was off to the races. He gets into full-fledged sprints at this point, so he really enjoys taking off running towards something that might end his life (like the stairs; shouts out to baby-proofing gates) and laughing as we all take flight towards him to make sure the family remains at the same number. That goes for his big brothers, too; they also know to look for him getting quiet and then taking off.
Anyway, the toilet. So, as per usual while I’m giving his brothers a bath, he walks right over the toilet and pulls on the lever to flush it. As is also per usual, the sound jars him to screaming briefly. But once he realizes that the toilet isn’t going to eat him, he keeps flushing. Over and over. And since my kids can’t eat off my love for hip-hop, I often tell him to stop because that water bill ain’t gon’ pay itself. But every time I move him away from it, he goes right back to the toilet and flushes over and over. I can hear my wallet getting lighter right now.
Because I’m a thinking man, though, on one occasion, I started to wonder if the reason he enjoyed flushing the toilet so much is because he did something and immediately got the reaction he wanted: flushing. He was in total control of the situation. Any time he can get to that toilet he goes right for it and gets his flush on—much to my chagrin, but also to my amusement. Like, when we all wake up in the morning: if he’s found his way into the bed because it’s so much work to keep putting him back in his crib over and over, if I stand up, he immediately starts fussing if I (or whoever is standing up, really) don’t grab him because he too wants to get out of bed. And go somewhere. Now that he’s discovered how to get out of the bed by sliding over the edge he feels a little better, but he would still prefer that we pick him up.
And I can see the slight increases in gained independence every day. So now, he hops up out the bed, and heads to the bathroom to flush the toilet. And I think it’s because he knows that he runs that short stretch of hallway.
Now look, I’m not insane. I entirely realize that maybe he just likes flushing the toilet because he just likes flushing the toilet. It’s a rather enjoyable experience in its own right; I won’t pretend I haven’t walked by a toilet or two in my day and just flushed that joker for no reason. So maybe it isn’t that deep for him at all. Perhaps he sees something so he does something and because he’s a baby he does it over and over until he bores of that (probably like 20 times).
Or maybe each day brings a new option to gain control of his situation. He keeps trying to get into the fridge; maybe he sees some food he wants to try. Either way, it’s highly entertaining watching a one-year-old traverse this life he has in his space. I have no idea what’s going on in his mind, but he’s a happy, joyous child so I imagine it’s all good things, all good things. Plus, he laughs a lot in his sleep so I’ll take that as a good sign.
I’m sure lots of parents spend tons of time just observing and pontificating on what their kids are thinking, and as they get bigger we tend to vocalize, “What were you thinking?!?” a lot more. But for now, my baby likes flushing the toilet. A lot.
And in a financially irresponsible way, I enjoy wondering what his mind is thinking as he does it.