Toilets and the Childhood Fear of the Flush

Toilets and the Childhood Fear of the Flush

My son is a teenager now, but not that long ago he was six years old and in kindergarten.

One day in particular sticks out in my mind. My son had a fear of toilets, it had been an ongoing fear, and asĀ  I found out, it was not a completely irrational fear. In fact, over 40% of all people are afraid of toilets under the age of seven. Let me rephrase that, they aren’t afraid of toilets that are under seven, but rather they themselves are under seven and thus afraid of toilets.

Okay, I’m getting a little off base here. I should explain that he was not actually afraid of toilets, he was afraid to flush them for the noise they create. I can’t completely say I blamed him, with some of the new ‘water-saving toilets’ a lot of them sound like a jet engine taking off. When I was a child (I swore I’d never say those 5 words, but here we go) toilets simply dropped water out of a tank and into the bowl.

Now they go with a force exploding in a fury of water to flush the disgusting little logs into the depths unknown. I have even encountered toilets that flush with such ferocity that they even manage to spit the water back up at me. A wonderful way to go back to work after encountering a toilet that has thrust its contents upon you. *sigh*

So, here my son and I were at the grocery store and he decided that he had to go to the restroom, nothing new right? Well, he goes into a stall and asks me for privacy which I am happy to provide, so I stand outside the stall, door closed. He does his business and then gets up to wipe himself. Well, the toilet had an infrared sensor on it and detected him no longer being on the toilet. The mechanized monster flushed, resembling a jet taking off and my son’s little half-naked body slammed up against the stainless steel door with such force that it bowed outward and he screamed in terror for his life “Daddy! Stop it! Stop the toilet!”. Which, of course, I could not as he was blocking the door. He fumbled with the lock and opened the door, pants down around his ankles, and jumped into my arms crying like a baby.

I felt so bad for him. I helped him get dressed, picked him up, and looked back down at the porcelain demon bolted to the wall with disdain. It got me thinking about the crazy fear of toilets that some of us have, and I can recall myself being afraid of the toilet at his age. I wasn’t afraid of the flush, my fear was much more realistic.

I had a fear of a gangster hiding in the toilet with his henchman. Whenever I sat on the toilet, the gangster and henchman were hiding down just where I couldn’t see them in the toilet and the gangster kept saying to his henchman “Shoot him! Shoot him in the butt!” and I had to very quickly do my business before the henchman could get a good aim as he was a little stupid. I could hear the idiot henchman in my mind saying in that 1920’s strong Brooklyn accent “Now boss? Should I shoot him now?”

So where else better to bring up this fear than in the locker room at the gym? (Yes, my fellow gym members think I’m a little crazy to begin with.)

I got talking to a few guys and one mentioned that he had a fear when he was a child that the toilet had a giant eel that slithered through the pipes and was swimming fast to reach his rear. He always expedited his task so that he didn’t get bit. Another told me about how he had feared that he would get sucked down into the toilet and have to swim through the bowels of the sewers to get out. After bringing up the phobia to other friends, another person had a fear that there was an evil clown in the toilet that would eat her and so she always tried to avoid going on them altogether. I wonder where that fear came from Mr. King? Yet another friend of mine had the fear of Jaws and was always afraid to step near a toilet for the chance that the mighty shark would bite her in the most unpleasant of places.

The reality is, it can be mighty scary, blindly sticking your most valuable possessions into a dark hole to take care of things. Just imagine in the days of outhouses when creepy weird things actually did hang out in the depth below. If only we had lighted toilet bowls, perhaps it would alleviate our fears.

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