Take That, Magic Eyes

Thank you, 3M.

Thank you, 3M.

Parents who travel with young children know all too well that a constant dose of new places requires creative and innovative approaches to helping sons and daughters get past irrational—and totally normal—kid fears.

Some kids might need help with overcoming the notion of eating vegetables. Others might require moral support to wrap their heads around sleeping with a blanket they don’t know.

In our family, the issue is automatically flushing toilets; my older daughter is terrified of them.

If you’ve followed my work over the years, you know I first wrote about this issue almost exactly one year ago. Since then, L’s issues with the “Magic Eyes” that control auto-flushing toilets have gotten worse. She equates them to torture (literally). She’ll hold in a pee for hours if she knows a bathroom has a toilet with a Magic Eye. And if she sees one, the damn thing becomes the subject of conversation for the next four hours.

(For the record, those automatic flushers really *are* annoying; especially when they decide you’ve finished your business and you haven’t.)

After a month in Hawaii last year, Powerwoman and I thought we devised a workaround to this phobia: We started taking cloth napkins with us everywhere to “blindfold” any Magic Eyes we encountered.

Mercifully, a friend recently suggested a more portable alternative: Post-it notes.

So far, in the name of “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” this new strategy appears to be working; this week, on two separate occasions at two different restaurants out and about, L was eager to apply Post-its and do her thang. As we get closer to our four-month stint in London (we leave Aug. 20), we’ll give her more experiences with Post-its with a goal to crack her of this phobia completely.

Do we think this new approach is a long-term fix? Not by a long shot (sorry, 3M). But at this point, after years of battling the Magic Eyes, we’ll take any minor victories we can get.

What sort of irrational fears do your kids exhibit while traveling?

2 replies
  1. Mara Gorman
    Mara Gorman says:

    Laughing so hard because after five years, I still have to give Teddy’s pillow “magic kisses” all over it every night before bed. This started because I needed to help him get back to sleep after nightmares caused by sleeping in a strange room. It seemed like a brilliant solution at the time….

    Seriously though, this seems like genius. I never would have thought of post it notes! I think there are fewer of those toilets in Europe, especially in Great Britain. In London, I’m just happy to find a working and reasonably clean toilet when we need one.

  2. Shelly Rivoli
    Shelly Rivoli says:

    We are so familiar with this! I usually just use my hand since I have to stand hovering a small child balancing on a big potty anyway. Just try and explain how the TP slinky snakes its way around toilet seats in airports with an “automatic cover-up”! The sound of Dyson Jet-blast hand-dryers alone is enough to scare the pee out of most of us (thank you San Francisco’s Cal Academy of Sciences). All in all, I’d say the pit toilets at camp grounds, where I always share some family lore, are fairly tame. Good luck! 😉


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