“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.” Erma Bombeck
(REALLY??? Image courtesy of Google Images)
Several of the memories that are forever burned into my skull involve the potty-training phase with my children. Specifically, the awful, stressful, panic-inducing moments involving public restrooms. I am beyond relieved that my children are past this phase; when I get the opportunity to hold a new baby and smell that new baby smell and feel those new baby snuggles and admire those little teeny fingers and toes and think for a fleeting second, awwww, maybe…all I have to do in conjure up the words “potty training” and I’m promptly handing that baby back to its parents and thinking, nope, never again. Take a Throwback Thursday stroll with me, would you?
Walking through a local clothing store, my 3-year old pulled at me and said, “I have to pee Mommy! REALLY BAD!” We weren’t in a department store or near any public bathroom that I knew of. I nervously asked one of the store employees if they had a bathroom that we could use. She looked at my toddler and said, well, usually the restroom is for employees only, but…okay.
She showed us to the restroom nestled in the back of their inventory shelving. The bathroom appeared clean, but as this was our first voyage to a toilet not used only by family members, before allowing my cherub’s bottom to alight on the toilet seat, I enveloped said seat completely with at least three inches of toilet paper. Because, good mother that I am, I would not allow one fraction of a centimeter of this child’s skin to touch a toilet seat that three other adult women (STRANGERS, gasp!) may have used since it had last been cleaned.
I carefully helped her with bottoms, taking care that not one bit of her clothing came in contact with the (admittedly, pristine-looking) floor. I picked her up and placed her ever so delicately atop the toilet paper nest. She placed her hands aside her for balance (still inches away from the actual toilet seat surface) and I let go, confident that she was now shielded from any nastiness and able to do her business without further ado.
Because of the amount of toilet paper I had placed on top of the seat, there was actually no way for my child to get any kind of solid grip. The toilet paper nest went flying in all directions, and her bottom landed with a splash! right into the toilet. Completely horrified, I grabbed her and set her on her feet…and she promptly peed all over the floor.
There are no words for the amount of anxiety and horror I felt at that moment. What ensued was a frenzy of consoling my understandably upset toddler, flushing down the 5 lbs of toilet paper nest now scattered around the bathroom, wiping pee off the floor and getting the now-traumatized toddler cleaned up, dressed, hands washed (holding your kid on your knee in midair while you wash their hands, anyone?) and exiting the store with a muttered “thank you” to the sales staff.
I related that story to a couple of acquaintances who had children of the same age. One of them said, in a tone that smacked of DUH, Jenn: “Don’t you carry those disposable toilet seat covers??”
I looked at her, mentally going through the inventory of the former diaper bag that had been repurposed into my regular bag whenever leaving the house with my child. I thought of the 10 pounds of crayons, mini coloring books, actual books, pullups, extra outfits, hand sanitizer, butt wipes, my wallet, maybe my phone, the beloved stuffed animal and and and…my brain went *poof*. I didn’t strangle her right then and there. But in my mind, oh yes I did. Choked her until her eyes popped out of her head and rolled across the floor.
Memory #2: Courtesy of a rest stop of the New York State Thruway. I had to deal with a child who had to “go”. As we exited the Family Restroom, she found her father as soon as she could, and even though she was 10 yards away from him, she screamed so loudly that all of the 246 patrons within earshot could hear, “I POOPED DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! I POOPED!” as she ran into his arms and I promptly made a right turn into the Starbucks line. Not before that one woman caught my eye and giggled.
Memory #3: In the wide-berth stall at The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. My pre-schooler decided right then and there was the moment to have a tantrum. And threw herself down. On the floor. Next to the toilet. IN A BAR BATHROOM. I may have blacked out.
Memories #4-212: Screaming “ACK DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!!! STOP GRABBING THE TOILET!! DON’T TOUCH THAT!!!” any number of times. I have walked out of the stall after that rant and met the eyes of another mom who just nodded and smiled at me. I’ve also heard similar coming over the stall walls and have given them the same nod and smile.
So there it is…and I know we have all been there. We have seen and have had to help our children do their business in all sorts of unfavorable situations, and we have seen them throw themselves and roll around in what we are sure are the germiest, most disgusting places on the planet.
And maybe in a few years, if my kids ever care to read my ramblings, they’ll see this and berate me for embarrassing them. However, I haven’t identified which kid it was in any situation…but if they ask me, I won’t hesitate to say #1, #2, #1, BOTH. Oopsy, I just identified them. Oh well. Their therapists can deal with it 20 years from now.