My daughter is stealing toilet paper. It started innocently at first. A roll here and there. I barely noticed. I’m absent minded. Thinking that I replaced the toilet paper in the bathroom and then discovering that I actually did not is something that is so common in my life that I don’t even question it.
This is how she was able to ferret away seven rolls of toilet paper under her bed without detection, until one day, Dave, stranded on the toilet yelled, “WHO KEEPS TAKING THE TOILET PAPER AND CAN SOMEONE BRING ME SOME?”
I stood up to go rescue him, but E was already up the stairs. “Oh dad, I have some under my bed.”
I followed her upstairs and watched her reach under her bed, grab a roll and hand it to Dave through the bathroom door. “Here you go dad.”
I crouched down next to her. “Honey, why are you taking the toilet paper?”
She smiled. “My baby chickies need it for their butts.”
The baby chickies in question are three to five imaginary chickens that follow my daughter around. She has had them as constant companions since she was two. Yesterday, I gave her an old digital camera to play with and she took a picture of the empty floor. “Look mom, all my baby chickies look so cute in dis picture!”
“Baby chickies poop on the potty,” I told her. “So leave the toilet paper there.”
I thought this would be the end of it, but the thievery only continued. The next time I caught her she wailed, “The monsters need it for there butts! THEY DO! THEY DO!”
The third time I caught her, she snarled her little lips, “I take it because you never buy me any toilet paper ever!”
So, that next Sunday, I took her grocery shopping and bought her a four-pack of one-ply toilet paper. She hugged it like it was the toddler Holy Grail. “OH FANK YOU! IT’S MY DREAM!”
She carried the toilet paper with her in her backpack to school, in my bag to dance class and in a plastic Target bag to ride bikes at a gym. One of my friends, a mother of three, asked E what was in her bag. E held out a little ball of paper. “Oh, it’s toilet paper, you need some for your nose?”
For the next two hours, she rode her bike and passed out little bits of toilet paper to the kids. When JQ spilled his drink she sped over and waved her toilet paper like a one-ply superhero. “Mom, I will wipe it up!”
And she did.
Part of me was seriously worried about her love for toilet paper. But then I remembered how when I was about the same age, I thought my baby doll’s bloomers were Cinderella’s cleaning cap. There are multiple pictures of me at four and five, asleep in only my underwear wearing baby bloomers on my head. Maybe she comes by this crazy honestly. I told Dave this story of my childhood and martyred myself on the cross of genetic weirdness and that’s where we were, until a few days ago.
A light burnt out in the kitchen and I had to venture into the basement where Dave keeps his stash of bulbs. Out of protest against the new compact florescent light bulbs, Dave has been accumulating a vast horde of incandescents. There is a whole shelf of them in the basement, where he has stacked them. He often tells people how to score incandescents and he once scolded me for wasting them. “The next bulbs I buy will have to be from the internet,” he huffed. “This pile won’t last forever.”
I thought of his protests when that night, I heard E beg him for “Just a widdle more toilet paper, please? Just a widdle more?”