Before you get too grossed out, rest assured, they will get a new roll of toilet paper from under the sink when the old one runs out. But apparently there is a great deal more effort involved to actually complete the process than they are capable of.
When they were younger, I never noticed this competency gap with my children because, well, because I changed the toilet paper roll for them. Even after they had been reliably potty-trained and were taking care of business on their own, I changed the toilet paper just like I changed the sheets and the towels and anything else that needing changing and tidying. And then it struck me that changing a roll of toilet paper was a task that given a not too complicated holder, even a young child could master. In our house, there is only one toilet paper holder that is difficult to use and even I am tempted to leave a fresh role on the back of the toilet out of frustration when the rod keeps popping out of the grooves and goes “sproinging” onto the floor.
So, several years ago, we had a lesson in how to replace an empty roll of toilet paper. We covered the basics:
- Push in on one end of the rod to make it smaller so it pops out of the grooves,
- Remove the empty roll and place it in the waste basket,
- Take a new, clean roll from under the sink,
- Slide it onto the rod,
- Get close to the holder and push in one end of the rod so that you can fit it back in the grooves,
- Line the rod up with the grooves (while still holding the end in),
- Release your grip on the end of the rod so that it returns to regular length and the little prong parts extend into the grooves in the holder
All three of my children tried the step by step process and I’m proud to report that they all mastered it in all the bathrooms except the one with the challenging holder. We didn’t even try on that one. And I figured we’d stick with the basics for years. They were children for heaven’s sake and didn’t need to learn the advanced techniques such as whether or not the paper should roll off over or under the roll.
Early on, they seemed to enjoy these “big kid” responsibilities. But somewhere along the way, the excitement and novelty wore off. And now, despite the success of those early lessons, my daughters are unable to replace a roll of toilet paper. When one roll is empty, they will get a new roll from under the sink and leave it on the back of the toilet, on the floor, propped on the old roll or balanced on the lid of the waste basket. No amount of teasing, needling, nagging, punishing or yelling has changed this behavior. I’ve timed it and we are talking another 6 seconds max to actually put the new role in the holder. I’m sure it is possible that they are doing this as a game to push my buttons. But I think instead that they are caught forever in sibling score keeping “I changed it last time, it is your turn” or “I wasn’t the one who finished the roll” (Note that indeed there are a few torn shreds still clinging to the cardboard roll — these are the same people who leave a thimble full of milk in the carton so that they don’t have to get another gallon of milk from the garage refrigerator.