Do you fold or do you wad?

Fold vs. wad

It never occurred to me that people could be parsed this way until mom broke and needed help.

I pulled the tissue from the roll and told her, “Let me help you,” but she swatted my hand and the wad of toilet paper away.

This was in early breakage, when she could still walk.

I stepped back and watched her begin to pull more tissue.

“Here,” I offered the wad in my hand, but she swatted me away again.

I didn’t pay enough attention to know, but maybe she was counting those squares that she then patiently folded.

I took the folded tissue from her (she still needed help) and understood that she wasn’t swatting away my helping hand. It was the wad. She didn’t want anything to do with that wad of toilet paper.

If she hadn’t broken, I wouldn’t have known.

Question 1

The first question to fall out of this moment: Is this a thing: some people fold, others wad to wipe?

I mentioned this moment to my brother and my partner. In my “research” so far, I’m outnumbered 3 to 1 folders versus wadders.

Are most people folders?

When we use someone’s toilet, we know which way (or if!) they hang their toilet paper, but unless we ask, we won’t know if they fold or wad. I had never asked anyone that question until last week, and the likelihood of that I’ll ask more people is slim.

I don’t know if my ex-husband is a folder or a wadder and I lived with him over sixteen years. In sixteen years with my current partner, I only found out this week (and because I asked) that he’s a folder. I toilet-trained all three of my children, but I don’t know! Did they become wadders like me (I don’t remember showing them otherwise) or are they folders?

I tried it, folding instead of wadding. Folding takes a lot of effort and more thought than a fist full of wadded paper. Plus, the fold doesn’t have that soft pillow effect the wad gives.

Question 2

What does folding vs. wadding say about you?

When I pressed the question What does folding your toilet paper say about you? to my partner, his initial comments were his fondness for tidiness. That made me laugh because I know where he sits every day! But I get it. He’s a perfectionist in his head, meticulous about some things, and I guess that plays out at the toilet.

“If folded reflects that you’re ‘tidy,’ what does wadded reflect about me?” I pressed hard for an answer, but he evaded the question.

If someone pressed me for an answer to “what does it say about you?” I’d lead with not rigid (soft, flexible, tolerant), maybe a little careless and overcommitted, and sure, impatient with insignificant details, although, how insignificant is it if you’re not happy with how wad vs. fold hits your netherskin? I would also confess that I’m not “in the moment” for my toilet moments. My head is sorting out something in the next room or making a list of to-dos.

Tidy vs. chaotic?

So are folders tidy and rigid, and wadders chaotic and flexible? Or maybe it’s right brain vs. left brain? If someone is a free spirit, flexible bundle of joy and chaos, does that mean they’re a wadder? Are all meticulous, detail-oriented people folders?

If you compared my garden to mom’s, you might draw some of these conclusions.

Even though I learned most of what I know about gardening from mom, she didn’t mold my gardening habits. Maybe some of our traits come from within.

Mom’s garden: straight controlled rows, meticulous care to prevent weeds and set up water regimens, no tolerance for the dying or the volunteers.

My garden: straight rows (if any) are rare, much time and energy towards saving dying plants and finding homes for tiny volunteers, and weeds. Lots of weeds.

Under scrutiny, the fold vs. wad personality determinations probably won’t hold up, but it is curious that maybe this detail we rarely know about each other might reflect what we do know.

Question 3

I wouldn’t have been aware of this about myself if mom hadn’t broken, if she hadn’t needed my help but not a wad of toilet paper. Folded, please.

Which brought up a final question or string of questions for me:

  • If I break, what will my children and caretakers learn about me?
  • What would make me swat their help away?
  • What parts of my life are determined by traits that spring from within?

Have you asked yourself how your life will shake out under the care of others? Will there be surprises for your children? Revelations for your family? And, on the toilet, what are you? Do you wad or do you fold?

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022