Now that I am a dad, I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets. They seem to have become a central theme in my life. I have a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old in potty training and that inevitably leads to a lot of concern over commodes.
All activities away from the home now have a toilet element in the planning that sometimes eclipses all other decision making.
- We need to try and go potty before we leave.
- Was it successful?
- Yes, OK we’re good for a while.
- No? OK, when was the last time we went potty?
- Will that affect our route to the mall?
- We’d better try again at the mall before we do anything else.
- Where are the toilets in the mall and how will that affect where I park?
- What did we come to the mall for? Was it toilets? I forget.
On road trips I used to stop only when I needed gas and I would choose a gas station based on the price of unleaded. Now I stop at regularly scheduled potty intervals and I choose gas stations on a wide variety of criteria, all having to do with the toilet.
- Does this place have a potty?
- If so, is it in a safe, well lit location?
- If so, does the exterior suggest that the interior will be clean?
- If so, based on past restroom/gas station chain experience, is this place likely to have a diaper changing station (for the 6-month-old)?
- If so, does this place also sell gas?
- If so, great! What’s that? The gas is sixty-seven dollars per gallon more than the dimly-lit, dirty-looking place across the street? Oh, well!
Once I have picked a bathroom successfully, and we’re going in, I now find myself paying much more attention to the lower half of the room. This is due to the proximity of my boys to the floor and their propensity for picking anything up. I’m like a Secret Service agent clearing a hotel’s back corridor just seconds ahead of POTUS.
“Yes, I’m in and we have one unsavory character at urinal three, but otherwise clear of civilians, over.”
“Wait, we’ve got something on the floor. Hang on.”
“No, it’s OK, it’s just an empty McDonald’s bag.”
“We’re clear people, let’s bring em’ in.”
And what is the story with public parks that don’t have toilets? The people that build parks know that children will come there, right? They put in nineteen acres of Kentucky bluegrass and keep it mowed and trimmed neater than the fairways at Augusta, but they can’t afford to maintain one hole in the ground? What am I paying taxes for? I’m not even asking for toilet paper! I’ll bring my own. I always have wipes. Just provide a hole and a seat. This is an especially troubling phenomenon in the newer subdivisions without any mature trees. You never really know how you’re going to react in a crisis situation until you have a kid dancing around at your heels saying “Daddy, daddy I really need to poop” and you scan the area to discover you are standing on what looks like the surface of the moon. “Hold it” is not a fool-proof option for a three-year-old when you’re fifteen minutes from home. Sometimes, you just have to hold your kid over a trash can.
And speaking of wipes, how did we ever live our pre-parental lives without them? I can’t even remember my life before having children, but I know for a fact it must have been horribly inconvenient without constantly having access to baby wipes. Now granted, before I had kids I probably had fewer messes to deal with every day, but let’s face it, I was a bachelor. I wasn’t exactly Mr. Clean. (Besides the fact that there is no possible way I could pull off the bald-with-a-gold-hoop-earring quasi pirate look, I wasn’t all that clean either.) What did I use to clean up spills? Or shine my shoes? Or blow my nose, clean my sunglasses, dust the house, wash my hands, clean the dashboard, wash my feet, wipe down the kitchen, wash my face, check my oil, or polish the silverware? I probably just used my shirt like my kids do.
As if off-site bathrooms weren’t enough of a concern, the bathrooms at home aren’t exactly free from troubles either. Sure the kids have easy access to them, but sometimes, that’s the problem. Since we’ve had children, I have very rarely used my toilet by myself. Some little one either wants to come in to watch how it’s done, or just needs to be in there with me to talk about what’s going on. If I lock the door, that often leads to a lot of knocking, banging, or crying about not being able to get in.
Before I had kids I never gave one thought to the bathrooms at work. Now I cherish them. Using the bathroom at work is the only time I ever have any privacy on the toilet anymore. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have very little privacy in my own bathroom ever again, unless I can hold out until nine or ten at night when I’m relatively sure there won’t be any more boys boomeranging out of bed to use the potty. But even after nine it’s a crapshoot (so to speak). There is always the off chance that someone will still get up because “There’s another poop in there,” or “Whoops, I forgot to pee.”
Go use the toilet at the park kid. Here’s some wipes.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2008 Marc Schmatjen
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