Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You Say Your Toddler Won't Use a Public Restroom

It was a beautiful, clear, crisp January day, and Collin, Bri, and I were visiting Gatlinburg for a long weekend get-away with our friends the Ograns and Bewleys. And well, I guess I was distracted by all the talking and catching up and laughing because I left our cabin unprepared.

Down the narrow, icy streets of Gatlinburg we drove, through downtown and towards Pigeon Forge to eat lunch at an eatery that came highly recommended. The afternoon began well. The entire restaurant smelled of fresh-made bread and I'd remembered to bring my Kindle Fire (so I wasn't totally unprepared) to entertain Bri as we waited to be seated.

We ordered, and ate and drank, and shared food, and asked for samples, and laughed, and that's when I realized my awful mistake.

"Mama," Bri said in her high-pitched, sweet little-girl voice. "You not bring my potty," which I had only recently determined was code for, "I need to go to the bathroom, but I don't want to go in a public restroom without my travel seat."

And she was right. I didn't have her potty. The one covered in princesses that I had purchased just the night before at the Gatlinburg walmart because she refused to use any public restroom the entire drive up. Miraculously, she didn't have an accident in the car. I'm still not sure about the how's and the why's surrounding that day.

So why hadn't I learned my lesson? Why hadn't I brought the potty? The PRINCESS potty!? Dread filled me to my very core.

But I didn't panic. Not on the outside anyway. I told myself I would convince Bri to let me hold her up on the toilet. I would convince her. I would. Or I would bribe her. Whatever worked. Because I am not above bribing my child, especially when urine and potentially poo is involved.

So I escorted Bri to the very nice public restroom without alerting Collin (or anyone else at our table) of my concerns. I led her into the handicapped bathroom stall (because anytime I'm sharing a stall with another person, I consider myself temporarily disabled). And then the pleading started.

"Watch Mama go to the bathroom. See, nothing scary. Your turn."

"I'll buy you a treat if you go potty."

"Mama promises to hold you real right and you won't fall in. I promise."

"If you don't go potty, we're going to have to go back to the cabin," I warned, thinking she would NOT want to go back to the cabin becuase she LOVES going places.

But she wanted to go back to the cabin. The cabin that was 20 minutes away. And from the way Bri was standing, from the expression on her face, and because I had just seen at least one full cup of lemonade enter her system, I doubted she could hold it that long.

Sure, I could get Collin and we could risk the ride back, hoping Bri would make it. After all, she had proven merely one day before that her bladder was magical.

But no, we couldn't do that because we had ridden with the Ograns and didn't have our own car. So we would first, have to cut the Ogran's afternoon short and ask for a ride back, and second, hope Bri wouldn't have an accident all over their brand new 2013 car.

Bonus proud Mama moment: I didn't have a change of clothes for Bri with me. Basically, I was mortified at my unpreparedness.

So I took out my potential future embarrassment on Bri. I'm not proud of what I said next.

"Bri, you can either go potty or Mama will have to give you a spanking."

She chose a spanking, and while, I know that children can often tell when you're bluffing and call you on it, I realized how scary this whole situation must be for her - having to sit on a strange toilet, much too large for her small bottom, while someone held her in place and expected her to relax enough to release urine into a bowl of water. And if she was willing to get a spanking over just using the dang potty, then I couldn't spank her for that. No, it wasn't her fault that I'd carelessly left her travel seat back at the cabin.

And that's when I noticed the drain on the floor.

So I ask you: what would you do in this situation? What would you do?? What would you do???

Here's what I did.

I lowered my voice and whispered (because remember, this was a multi-stall public restroom, which means there were patrons and employees rotating in and out throughout this entire conversation).

I whispered to my frightend 3-year-old, "Bri, you see that drain on the floor? Either I need you to go potty on the toilet or I need to take your pants off and I need you to pee on the floor in that drain."

So, Bri chose to pee in the drain. Of course she did. But not until after making me promise that we would take her boots off as well because she did NOT want tee-tee on her boots.

So I stripped her down. Off came her boots, her socks, her pants, and her underwear. I held her hand as she straddled the drain, advising that she spread her legs wide, and began tee-tee-ing onto the floor.

But instead of the fluid going neatly down the drain, it splashed everywhere and pooled, and well, the drain may as well not have been there at all from the mess that was made. And Bri started to whine because 3-year-old girls who are very into princesses and lipgloss do not like being dirty.

Once I was sure she had voided her bladder, I picked her up out of the mess, careful to keep her as far away from me as possible, and placed her in the corner of the large stall.

Cleaning her legs and feet as best I could with toilet paper, and redressing her quickly, I attempted to clean up the mess on the floor with the only thing I had access to: more toilet paper. But public restroom tissue is weak and thin so I didn't make much progress.

What I needed was a mop. So I picked Bri up, finally emerging from the bathroom stall. And since things really couldn't have gotten any worse, they got better.

Just outside the stall was a "wet floor" sign which I strategically placed in front of the stall door, and after washing our hands, we high-tailed it out of there.

Back at the table, the bill had been paid and our group was standing, waiting to leave, and no one was the wiser. But my conscience got to me (as it so often does, dang you conscience). So without saying a word to Collin or anyone else, I stopped by the hostess on our way out, as casual as if I were asking for a mint or a menu, and informed her of what happened. I might have left out the part about me undressing Bri and encouraging her to tee-tee on the floor.

Bri burried her head on my shoulder upon my telling someone about our adventure, which is Bri-speak for "I'm in trouble and sad that I'm in trouble" so once we were outside, I apologized to her for forgetting her potty, assured her that while she should have just tee-teed in the toilet, I was proud of her for doing what I had asked; that she wasn't in trouble for "going" on the floor, and that no one was mad.

Okay, so maybe the person mopping up the remnants of our adventure was mad, but I wasn't.

By this time everyone with us was alerted that something odd had just happened. Maybe it was the length of time Bri and I were in the restroom. Maybe it was my unsuccessful bribing tactics being overheard by Rebecca while she was in the stall over using the bathroom. Or maybe it was just the look on my face, but an explanation was needed that was never given.

So this my friends: Rebecca, Steven, Kirstin, and Tyler, is that overdue explanation.

And to the rest of you reading this out there, I ask: What would you do?

Notice the boots. The boots survived.


Sarah said...

hahahahahahaha! That is so awesome! I think you do what you got to do.

Rachel & Stephen said...

I recently had a oh crap experience. Where I was mortified to tell the manager at publix they needed to sanitize there cart. You see my toddler had crapped in her diaper and decided to touch it and pull it out. (Hence my "oh crap") Of course, I like you was unprepared with wipes. Thank heavens Publix sells them. THANK HEAVENS Publix sells them!!! I feel your pain a little. You gave me the best laugh of the day too!

Joni said...

Oh man. What a story.