There is this thing that I do that annoys the heck out of my family. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things I do that annoy the heck out of my family, but I am thinking of one thing in particular.

Whenever someone is in the bathroom for what I determine to be an abnormally long period of time, I stand outside the bathroom door and yell,

“EVERYTHING OK IN THERE?”

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I don’t know if it’s a woman thing or a mom thing or a Jewish thing, or maybe a combination of all three. It’s definitely not a guy thing because when the guy in question exits the bathroom, he glares at me and asks me why I do that.

“Well, I just want to make sure you are OK,” I stammer.

“If I am NOT OK, I will either yell for help or slip a piece of toilet paper under the door that says, ‘I’m constipated. Call 911.’ ”

I shrug. “I can’t help myself.”

“What are you worried might be happening in there?” he asked. “I fell into the toilet and drowned? Hit myself in the head with the plunger and got a concussion? Climbed out the window and ran off with some woman who doesn’t ask me if everything is OK when I’m in the bathroom too long?”

“Not the first one,” I responded. “Possibly the second. Definitely the third.”

I’m not actually sure why I ask that question. I think it comes from the days when the kids were little and new at the whole bathroom thing. Although I understood that part of them feeling grown up was having privacy in the bathroom, I was nevertheless concerned that they would break some toilet taboo like not get their pants down the whole way, not wipe good enough or, heaven forbid, miss the toilet completely. Since this was most likely to happen at someone else’s house, it had the effect of making me a nervous wreck whenever someone announced they “had to go.” For a while, I tried the old, “Can you hold it in?” plea, but when their faces would start to turn blue and the legs started to cross, followed by the crotch grab and the “gotta go now” dance, I knew I had to give in and let the chips fall where they may or, rather, the pee fly where it did.

So I got into the habit of standing outside the bathroom door and asking, “Everything OK?” which loosely translated to, “Do I need to come in there with a mop and bucket and hazmat suit?”

Soon, I was asking everybody who used our bathroom the same question: the kids, my husband, visiting relatives, friends and dignitaries who were in the bathroom just a little too long. (Note to readers: When the Dalai Lama uses your bathroom, it is not necessary to ask if everything is OK in there. If it is not, he will get it right in his next life.)

Although I knew it was not really appropriate to keep track of someone’s bathroom time and then question their status when I decided they had been in there too long, I still had trouble shaking the habit. This is when I realized I didn’t need to stop asking the question, I just had to find the appropriate time to use it.

So, the next time I let the dog out to do his business and it took him a while to come back in, I felt perfectly fine yelling, “Everything OK out there?”

For more Lost in Suburbia, check out Tracy’s website at lostinsuburbia.com.