“Oh, really? This should be quick,” was my response when I reached the car door after taking my eldest to use a rest stop public restroom and my husband informs me that my youngest, now two, also wanted to give it a go. As I velcro her sparkly mermaid shoes, zipped her soft cheetah fleece and gathered her in my arms, flashes of our former attempts at this acrobatic act swung into my mind full force. Screaming, limb stiffening, and sheer and utter terror at the horrors of a public toilet basically sums it all up. Not that I blame her. Germaphobe and fellow public-potty-avoider, the fear is real, folks.
In the hopes that maybe this time would be different, I gave her the big pep talk on the walk in.
“Ok, so I’m going to hold you over the potty , just like you’ve seen me do with sissy.”
“Ok,” she replies with a toddlery lisp.
“You’re going to be a big girl! I will be so, so proud of you if you do this, OK?” A giant toddler grin spreads across her face, a deep dimple peering out under the yellow fluorescent lights of the public facilities.
“OK, so we are going into this stall honey, and I will hold you real tight. Don’t worry, and just go ahead and go potty like a big girl, OK?”
Pants down, pealing back the velcro of her heavy duty diaper, our “just in case” for long trips like we are on, and into my arms. I bend down into a deep squat, elbows resting on knees to ease the eternity it often takes for young ones to let their flow go in a new environment. The burning sensation quickly approaches. I mean my thighs, not a UTI or worse…
“You’re doing great honey. Just relax. Whenever you have to go, go,” I coo in soothing tones to avoid a sudden loss of courage and case of freak out that has been our history of public pottying. Sink hips, shuffle gently. She’s already doing better than ever, and I’m a super proud Mommy. Chastising myself mentally for being so unfit, but proud!
Suddenly there are sounds of another person entering the bathroom, and I fear the unfamiliar noises may be just what it takes to break this newfound concentration, when it happens. The beautiful sound of urine tinkling into the potty water, reminiscent of a delicate stream babbling forth from its underground source. Pure magic!
“Woo hoo!!” I erupt in true mommy excitement, probably scaring the shit out of our co-habitant as one without kids would not expect such a display in a public restroom, but there was no holding back regardless of who was listening, or whatever she was busy doing at the moment. “I am soooooooo proud of you! What a big girl! Going pee-pee on the potty out in public! You did sooo well!” A small celebratory dance, and the wrangling of the diaper onto a standing body commenced.
My obnoxiously loud celebrations were met with an immensely prideful grin on my young daughter’s face. She had conquered a fear, and become the master of her own bladder, if only for this time. She eagerly pulled up her sleeves to commence the washing of hands, and while doing so, our lavatory co-habitant exited her stall. I’m not sure that she was a mother or not, nor am I sure that she even spoke English, but she gave us a sheepish grin as she washed her own hands, and we all exited the facility together, in silence.
This silence was very short lived. We didn’t even make it to the car before my new potty-goer was yelling to Daddy and Sissy, ” I pee peed on the potttyy!!” for all the world to hear in the dark of night.
That’s one small tinkle for toddlers, one giant accomplishment for my baby girl!