The Terror of Public Restrooms


Our tour of every public restroom in the great state of California has begun.

As much as I’d like to just hide at home during the (glacially slow going) training phase of potty skills, after a certain amount of peepee mopping, you’ve just gotta get out. And this requires asking/encouraging your little potty rookies if they have to use the facilities every 32 seconds.

It begins with the potty dance. If you’re lucky, the toddler salsa will be accompanied by a whine, “Mommeeee, I hafta go potteeee.”

You turn and survey your surroundings – noting every possible escape, exit or witness to the performance that is about to occur. If you have boys, you take in the landscaping for trees that a tiny person can easily hide behind.

Reluctantly, you take your little one’s hand and enter the public restroom facilities. Observe single-celled germs the size of Bubonic plague-carrying rats crawling across the floor. Usher the potty student into a stall.

Aim for the handicapped stall. It is the largest; it will fit you and all the equipment needed. Also the child.

Begin repeating variations on, “Don’t touch anything” to the inquisitive wee one.

Remove sanitary wipes from diaper bag. Cleanse toilet seat. Remove foldable potty seat from diaper bag. Place on seat.

“No, that’s not a garbage can. Yes, it’s like one. Ew, hands off!”

Get child to stand still to remove pants. (Child will be thrilled with this.) Place clothing atop diaper bag. Do not let anything touch the floor. Should such a travesty occur, burn article. (Follow same process when Code Brown blowout occurs. It is a mortal wound for the batman big boy pants; the underwear is not worth saving at that point.)

“No, you may not do bubble face in the potty water.”

Lift child up and place precariously on toilet seat. Swallow disgust and act thrilled to be kneeling above a puddle you are fervently praying is just water from a leaky pipe. Encourage peepee in an excited voice.

“Yes, we have toilet paper at home too. Look with your eyes, no touching the container!” Focus kid!

Rapidly remember that little boys have zero aim. Your foldable potty seat, while brilliant for serving as a portable hazmat potty training station, does not include a splash guard. Remind yourself you’d far prefer being peed on by your own son than encounter god knows what else is in that stall.

Playfully yell, “Point it down!” while catching pee. “Yay! You went potty!”

Start wiping everything. Pluck big boy off potty, balance him on the changing pad in your diaper bag until you can get all protective clothing back on. Allow proud little boy to flush – while inwardly cringing.


Whirl around stall and tiny person in a manic one-person anti-microbial hand-sanitizing flurry. Despite the disgusting creepy-crawlies, keep a close eye on your child who will now want to crawl under the door to every closed stall to see what *that* potty situation is.

Hoist short one up to wash his hands. Curse at sinks comprising auto-water. (It is exceedingly difficult to hold a child while performing the frenzied interpretive dance required to get water flowing.) Curse at sinks with push for water faucets. (I have to touch something for an extended period of time while convincing the toddler he absolutely does not want to touch it?)

Proffer paper towels. Watch paper towels get gleefully scrunched into a little ball. Try to corral the flailing still wet hands. The germs still abound! Don’t touch anything!

“No! You’re all clean now! Get. Out. Of. The. Garbage. Can.”

Escape from public restroom. Take two steps toward wherever your assumed destination was initially imagined. Hear, “Mommeeee, I hafta go potteeee,” from his twin brother.

Look at your boys. Point at the nearest shrubbery-like easement. “See if you can hit a leaf, kid.” Periphery public opinion be damned.

There are many of you who continue to have bathroom issues as a fully-functioning(ish) adult. I have no doubt the muppets will share these concerns due to their completely neurotic mother.

But they will be sanitary therapy patients.


Filed under Milestones

2 Responses to The Terror of Public Restrooms

  1. I’d love to tell you it gets better but 1.5 years into full potty trained status and you just described my continued life. There is an app for finding best potties? right? I need to look into it.

  2. With my first born (single baby) I would make her put her hands on her head when we entered a public restroom. I would pull down her pants, lift her onto the perfectly covered with tons of toilet paper toilet, and I would lift her off. She was like a prisoner. By the time the twins came (children numbers 3 and 4) I would have served them dinner on the floor of the the stall.

    Someone once said to me that no one has ever died from using a public bathroom. Although, she didn’t have real proof of that…it gets easier.

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