My kids, especially Screecher Creature No. 3, have a thing about bathrooms. Other peoples’ bathrooms that is. For them, bathrooms possess, the mysterious X factor. But for some reason our own is not half as novel to them. Like everything else there are exceptions to this rule, too. For example, despite them having been asked do they need to use the loo before the front door is even opened, they wait till all 6 of us are packed up in the car and ready for the off. Bearing in mind this exercise can take a good 10 minutes or more, it is annoying in the extreme when one of them announces that unless they don’t go now, well, you can imagine the implied aftereffect. In a way I can relate to their interest in the john. When I go somewhere new, I cannot rest easy until I source the nearest restroom. Other people check out the location of the fire exits, but yours truly must ascertain the closest loo. Weak bladder syndrome? Maybe, but until I know where the bog is, I can’t relax. The Screecher Creatures, however, operate from a nosiness level. They’ve got their favourite haunts and it can be a tad messy if one of them decides he wants to go to a particular bathroom over the others. The ladies lav in Dundrum Shopping Centre is a firm favourite thanks to those machines that promise to dry your hands in 4.9 seconds. You know the ones; you place your dripping wet appendages down into it, the machine is then activated with a noise akin to that of a meat grinder. Probably depositing little dried bits of shit onto your hands in the process. Yuk! Why can’t the lads use tissue paper like normal people? Oh wait, sometimes they do. But it has to be dispensed from another motion activated mechanism. Wave your hand in front of the machine with the little sticker that has a palm printed on it, there follows a gentle whir for a nice change, one that is designed not to frighten the bejayzus out of sleeping babies in buggies, and out comes a length of tissue paper. Probably recycled. One piece is more than enough for one person but the boys have to take turns procuring their own piece of paper so the wastage does not go down well with me. One day I left the trolley perilously close to the machine and Screecher Creature No. 4, all 14 months of him, had the time of his life whilst I was otherwise engaged wiping bums in the cubicle. I have discovered that funky little bottles of foamy soap on the sink in our own house do not hold the same fascination for the boys as those in public latrines. Hands are washed with OCD intensity even if the liquid soap is girly pink. I wouldn’t get away with that at home. Sometimes, if we are in particularly posh comfort stations, a squirt of moisturising hand lotion will be the order of the day too. I’m all for hygiene but the Screecher Creatures can pick their moments too. I swear they watch, waiting till that scone is perfectly spread with jam, or the muffin sliced in half, a bite sized morsel about to be devoured and then it is announced that poo’s or wee’s are imminent. And always in the one café we frequent where the loos are upstairs. It is just way too risky to chance with Screecher Creature No. 3. Although a freezing cold toilet seat one winter’s morning put paid to that. Mister Husband heard him yowling in shock from downstairs. So did everyone else. Even when we are in close proximity to a downstairs bathroom, I live in fear that one of them might take a mad notion and trot out to us with pants and trousers around their ankles, and in full view of everyone present, announce that they need their bum wiped. So you can imagine their excitement when we visited an arboretum earlier on this year and found that they had installed novelty sanitary wear in the bathrooms. You literally got to spend a penny on top of a daffodil or a tulip, whichever took your fancy. There was a whole lotta merriment goin’ on! The boys took home a couple of things that day; four fruit trees for the garden and the memory of the flowery urinals. These days, “Mammy will I water the flowers for you?” has a totally different meaning in our house.