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Moot Points: I gotta go … honest

May 26, 2015 Randy Duffy

Isn’t it amazing how different we all are with bodily functions? Some people have to go once a day and some once an hour. I guess no two bladders are the same.

Years ago as a beginning teacher, when kids asked me if they could go to the bathroom, I used to play the teacher game. My time-honoured questions of students have been used for 100 years.

“Didn’t you just go an hour ago? Can’t you hold it until recess? Again? Is there something wrong with you? No! You just want to get out of the classroom, don’t you?”

One fine day I met my urinary Waterloo when it was five minutes to the bell and a student asked to go to the washroom. I said, “No! Wait five minutes ‘til recess.”

So, as the story goes, the student went to her desk, squeezed her legs together, grimaced and then wet her pants. This might seem not so unusual for a preschooler or kindergarten student, but this student was in Grade 5. The student was extremely embarrassed and had to suffer the whispered wrath of classmates for months to come.

I heard about it the next day from my principal, who had received a call from the superintendent, who had been called by the student’s parents.

To make a long story short, I blew it. I wasn’t thinking. A simple little question such as, “Can you wait five minutes, or do you need to go now?” was all I had to ask. I was assuming everyone was the same and anyone could hold it for five minutes.

But we aren’t all the same. We all march to different drummers, and we all have different needs.

Later on I got to thinking about myself in my own student days. There were some days when I asked to go to the washroom because I had to go, and some days I asked to go because I just simply had to get up out of my desk and go for a walk. My legs needed blood after being bent for 60 minutes. And, really, what’s wrong with that? We all need to get up and move once in a while. If it helped me to get motivated to work when I returned, then that was a good thing.

Some students thrive on structure and some need extra freedom. Personally, I need both. But if I were a student and went to a school that didn’t question the workings of my urinary system, that allowed me to go to the washroom, grab a drink of water or let me take a walk once in a while, then that would be the school for me. ❚

Retired teacher Randy Duffy taught for 34 years in Lethbridge.

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