These days, explaining “the birds and the bees” isn’t as difficult as it was when our parents had that talk with us. It’s only natural that children wonder about such things as why boys and girls have separate bathrooms.
In the public school building in my home town, boys and girls had separate cloak rooms as well as bathrooms. Coat hooks and benches ran the length of each area’s wood-paneled walls. Though these rooms had no doors on them, the teachers admonished us to only go into our own room and not to go in the other one.
I accepted this state of affairs for a while but my curiosity soon grew. What, I wondered, was so special about the girls’ cloak room that they had to have one of their own. There had to be a better reason than, “Just because.”
One afternoon, I couldn’t stand the strain anymore. As soon as the other students had left the building, I squeezed through the gap that separated the rooms. To my surprise, the girls’ cloak room didn’t look any different than our’s.
“What are you doing in here, Bruce?” I turned to see my teacher, Mrs. Mael, standing in the doorway. “Are you lost?” she asked with a note of kindness in her voice.
“No,” I sheepishly admitted, “I was just curious about what the girls’ cloak room looked like.”
She laughed as she walked into the room and hugged me. “The reason girls have their own cloak room is that they don’t want boys to see them when they take their coats off.”
“Why don’t they want us to see that?” I couldn’t resist asking.
As she escorted me to the door, she replied, “That’s just the way girls are. You better go home now before your mom worries about you. Don’t ever go into the girls’ cloak room again, all right?”
“Sure,” I agreed as she led me into the boys cloak room and handed me my coat.
I never forgot that teacher’s kindness to me. She didn’t treat me like a nuisance like my first grade one teacher did. Neither did I disobey her regarding the cloak rooms.
This happened before I was sent to a school for the blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. I wrote about how being sent five-hundred miles from home for months at a time effected me in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It’s available in paperback form from the Bruce Atchison’s books link. My latest book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.