What is it about public restrooms? Whenever I take my girls into one they immediately lose all concerns about hygiene, the ability to control their volume, and any sense of balance. Do any of you other parents out there ever sound like this?
“Now, we’re in a public restroom and it’s very icky, so don’t touch anything. Just keep your hands on your belly. No, you don’t need to lock the door, I just locked the door. Don’t lean against the wall. Stop touching the potty! Hands on your belly! HANDS ON YOUR BELLY!”
As I’ve mentioned before, the division of labor the Wife and I have worked out means that handling waste removal is primarily my responsibility. This was well and good when we were dealing with infants. The Wife nursed them and I took them potty. It made sense. (And, yes, I took them potty as infants; we practice Elimination Communication.)
Unfortunately, that policy may have been a little short-sighted because now that I’m taking them potty it means we’re going into the men’s room. Surely anyone who has ever glimpsed a men’s restroom would know they are not places you want your children to be unless they are sealed inside a space suit. Even in the nicest, cleanest, classiest men’s room of all, you can bet that every square inch of the floor has been peed on at one time or another.
If you, Dear Reader, are not a man and are not familiar with the male members of our species, I don’t want to give you the impression that we all revert to some gross, animalistic state as soon as we get out of the immediate presence of the fairer sex. But there are some pretty disgusting dudes out there and the rest of us have to share the bathrooms with them. Let me tell you, sometimes being able to pee without physically touching the toilet is a real boon because the nastier it is, the further away you can be. And, yes, that just leads to a whole disgusting feedback loop until you might as well just urinate on the outside of the building but there’s no sanitary alternative.
Child: “I gotta go potty go potty go potty!”
The Dad: “Yes, but first let me wipe the toilet off. Just stand over there and keep your hands on your belly.”
Child: “Why did someone write on the walls?”
The Dad: “I don’t know. Stop walking around, just be still.”
The Dad: “Look down at the floor. Is it wet right there?”
Child: “Why is it wet there?”
The Dad: “I don’t know but if you step in it we’ll have to throw away your shoes. Let me lift you onto the potty, okay? Don’t put your hands on it!”
Child: “Daddy, what does it say?”
The Dad: “Now when you’re done, let me help you off so you don’t touch any of this over here. What does what say?”
Child: “What does it say that someone wrote on the walls?”
The Dad: “Uh… I don’t know. Here, let me wipe you.”
Child: “You dropped a piece of toilet paper…”
The Dad: “Nononononononono! Don’t pick it up off the floor. For the love of God, don’t touch the floor.”
Child: “But you dropped the —“
The Dad: “It’s dead now, just leave it.”
Frequently, I have to take both my girls at the same time.
The Dad: “MeToo, do you need to go potty?”
RU: “I need to go potty.”
MeToo: “Me too! I need to go potty right now!”
This can sometimes lead to more rambunctiousness than I think is appropriate for a public restroom. Giggling, cheering, and loud chants of “Pee-pee! Pee-pee!” might be the norm in the women’s bathroom, but they’re pretty out of place in the men’s.
I’ve never been in a women’s room (naturally), but I once walked by one while the door was open and saw a couch — a small one, but an actual couch — inside the bathroom. That blew my mind. Such a thing is not to be found in the gentlemen’s WC. Just as well, because my girls would want to sit on it or bounce up and down or build a fort with the pillows.
Based on what I’ve seen in movies and on TV, and have had described to me by female friends, here are some things that can be found in a women’s restroom:
* Tasteful decorations
* Dry Floors
* Paper Towels
Based on my own experience, here is a list of things that one can find in a men’s restroom:
* Unflushed, perhaps now unflushable, toilets
* A urinal cake with a dozen cigarettes in it
* A urinal with an ashtray in it
* Limericks, racist rants, or the specific date, time, and location where one can have a good time
Of the two lists, I know which one I’d prefer my kids to be exposed to — or, at least, accidentally bump into. I’ve only just gotten MeToo convinced that the things on the walls with water in them are for going potty in, not for washing hands (“No, MeToo, you can’t go potty in them”).
My Wife is a very smart person, so I’m sure that she is aware at least of the general disparity between the state of a typical women’s public restroom vs that of the men’s. Yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, she not only allows our children to be taken into a men’s room but actually seems to prefer that I take them potty. I just don’t get it.
If we have another baby, maybe I’ll use the opportunity to try convincing her to switch our deal around. She can take the children potty in the sanitary and tasteful women’s rooms and I’ll get up several times in the night to breast-feed the baby.