The Terrors of Public Toilets

Tonight I went to Walmart. For the record, that is NEVER a good beginning to anything ever. I really try to avoid Walmart because I am quite convinced that it has some sort of evil psychological power that renders my common sense useless. In other words, I go in for toilet paper and come out with a 6-man tent and enough food and gear for a week of camping.

I hate camping.

Anyway, I have been putting of a trip to Walmart since approximately New Year’s Eve, and I simply had to force myself to go this morning. Which turned into tonight, as I was able to procrastinate it by nearly twelve hours. So I left Art and the boys at home to finish Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Squeezy and I braved the cold of January in Iowa and the misery of Walmart at any time.

I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately, which is not a valid substitute for the cup of afternoon coffee I gave up. I knew as soon as I got out of the van that I was going to have to make a stop in the bathroom before I could go buy a new tent shampoo. So I dragged Squeezy into the bathroom, which had miraculously just been cleaned and which also, for reasons unknown to me, had a cinnamon roll in a baggie lying on the floor. This has nothing to do with this story, but I point it out because, well, because I do.

By the time we got into the bathroom, my potty need had reached critical mass (which doesn’t take much after you’ve birthed 3 children, just saying), so I dashed in, pulled Squeezy in after me, slammed the stall door shut, hung my coat up on the hook, and proceeded to do my business. Unfortunately, just as I sat down, I noticed that the stall door was hanging wide open. Apparently in my haste I had not latched it well. It is also important to know that I was in the big stall and couldn’t reach the door.

“Squeezy!” I hissed desperately to my daughter, who is afraid of automatic toilets, public restrooms, and vacuum cleaners (one of those is not relevant to this situation), “Push the door shut!”

My genius two-year-old gave the door a little tap, causing it to close by 1/4″ and immediately swing open by 3 more inches.

“No! You’ve got to push it! Push it shut!”

I should note that normally this child adores slamming doors, so her unwillingness to do so in this situation is proof of the constant conspiration of the world against me (I just made that word up). Finally, after much encouragement from me (all very loving and patient, I assure you), I convinced her to hold the door shut until I could waddle over and lock it properly.

My business taken care of, I now turned my attention to my dear, sweet, angelic little Squeezy Bug.  We recently potty trained her, and she is usually very good about staying dry, but that’s because I take her potty every chance we get. Usually it’s not on scary, tall, automatic-flush potties in scary, loud public restrooms.

“I need to go potty,” she said.

“You do?”

“Yes.” Quite decisive. Then– “NO!”

“I think you’d better try.”

Those five words prompted my child to have the Mother Of All Tantrums, which I’m sure all the people in Walmart enjoyed listening to. “I DON’T NEED TO GO POTTY! I DON’T WANT TO SIT ON THE POTTY! IT’S NOT GONNA FLUSH IT’S NOT GONNA FLUSH IT’S NOT GONNA FLUSH! I DON’T NEED TO PULL MY PANTS DOWN!”

I have in the past been able to get her to calm down and go, but tonight I had to admit defeat after five minutes of bloodcurdling screaming and crying and back-arching and freaking out. I helped her off the toilet, took my hand away from the sensor so it could flush, and hissed threats of the dire consequences of wetting her pants as I helped my sweet angel pull up her pants and gathered our coats.

On the way out of the bathroom she got too close to the hand dryer and set it off, which caused her to shriek and run out of there like all of the presidential candidates were after her vote. I was kind of sad about that because I had wanted to investigate the cinnamon roll further. I’m sure it has an interesting story. Why would anyone leave a cinnamon roll anyplace other than in her mouth? Particularly the bathroom at Walmart? But alas! I could not satisfy my curiosity. Instead I had to chase my toddler out of the bathroom to the front of Walmart, where the people sitting at the H&R Block booth were looking at us with much interest and a smidge of judgment. I ignored them, wrestled my unwilling daughter into the seat of the cart, and walked away with what little dignity I had left.

As I headed toward the health and beauty department, I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom again.

11 thoughts on “The Terrors of Public Toilets

  1. I laughed out loud when she ran past the hand dryer. Kaybelle hates those things too. And I don’t blame poor Gracie for refusing to go in the public toilet. Those things are all kinds of awful. (The other day we were out for dinner, and Kay had to use the public toilet. I said “Don’t touch ANYTHING” so of course she proceeded to run her hands along the toilet seat, walls, and anything else she could find. ugh.)

  2. I never go to Walmart if I can help it. And when I do, I hate myself for thinking it would be a good idea. Target it is for me, Target or nothing. Also? I hate public restrooms. So. So. Much. I will go to great lengths to avoid them. When I flew to London, I managed to somehow avoid using the airplane bathroom the entire 10-hour flight. So, you know. You’re talking to the champ.

  3. Miss Erin, I found you by way of Glynn’s Saturday list. Ma’am, you tell my kinda story! And what your daughter said about going to the pot, I say those same words every time I am forced to use public toilets. Ga-ross.

    Blessings to you and yours.

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