I’ve often wondered how I should handle the “bathroom stuff” when I’m flying solo with Charlotte out in the real world. When she needs to go, obviously I need to drag her into the men’s room with me. Do I let her solo the stall right out of the gate? Obviously I should close the door, right? Could she fall in? When do I let her handle the ladies’ room on her own? What if she wants me to go in with her, but insists on using the ladies’ room? All of these questions have been floating around in my head from the moment I realized that there was at least a 50% chance that I could be fathering a girl. They popped up more and more in recent months, as potty training became more and more of a focus.
One question I hadn’t ever considered, though, was what I should do if I needed to go. That’s what happened about 5 minutes into our retail excursions one evening a few months ago.
It didn’t help any that she had fallen asleep moments before getting to the store. It didn’t help in the least that Charlotte had just begun a Miss Independent streak. It certainly didn’t help that it was one of the last -30 Celcius with the windchill evenings left to the season, and Charlotte demanded to walk on her own from the car, holding Daddy’s finger. Slowly we trudged through the long parking lot in the cold wind… and by the time I walked through the automatic doors, I realized that I was definitely in need.
It was one of those moments in time when a thousand thoughts and questions run through your head in a millisecond. If you were to vocalize your thoughts and emotions, unless you’re John Moschitta Jr., it’d probably take you a week to say it all. Mostly they were assessments of the potential logistics involved in solving this problem: How am I going to piss without abandoning my daughter or answering the question “What’s that?”.
So, seriously, what’s the protocol here? I know there’d be people that would say let the doves fly and the birds sing and try not to catch her in the stream. That’s not me. Barring some ill-fated tragedy, I am perfectly 100% fine with not being involved in my daughter’s discovery of the existence of the penis in any way, shape or form. Call me an ostrich, or old-fashioned, or what-have-you… I’m so far from that Crunchy-Organic Planet that starlight from Alpha Centauri reaches me faster.
What other options are there? Obviously she’s gotta come into the bathroom. She’s wasn’t even 3 years old yet at the time. Do I leave her outside a stall? Can’t do that. That’s basically as unattended as being outside the bathroom all together. Hell, she’d probably burn her hands on the automatic faucets. Nope. That won’t do at all.
Urinals seem like they’d be the obvious answer. They’ve almost always got those little divider things these days. I could see her out of the corner of my eye… but it’d still require trusting her to stand in one place, which is something she just doesn’t do. Then that burning thing is still an unacceptable risk.
We’re still only climbing the stairs leading to the public washrooms thanks to Miss No-I-Want-To-Walk when she decides it’s too warm inside for her hat.
Hey. A hat. I could pull that down over her eyes and–that’s the stupidest fucking idea I’ve ever had. It’s a wool hat. It’d block her vision about as much as a dirty window. Besides, I’d piss myself before I’d ever convince her to leave it down, anyway.
I might piss myself, anyway. How have we not climbed these stairs yet?
Finally at the top, and still a good 50 yards away from the bathrooms, I decide I’m going to have to carry her. There’s whining and screeching, and “NOPLEASEIWANNAWALK” but we’re just going to deal with it because Daddy’s already half-walking, half-running, half-struting like the punchline of a racist joke that’s bad at math and he’s going to explode.
Trying to quell the screeching reveals the solution to the problem, though. I ask Charlotte if she wants to fly, and throw her over my shoulder. I fly her to the bathroom like Reverse-Superman (because she’s still never seen Powdered Toast Man) and realize that this is my answer. We fly around the bathroom to a stall and I barely make it. We’re talking Top Five Closest Calls ever. Porcelain cracking was a very real danger.
“Daddy’s peeing in the toilet,” she calls from over my shoulder. “That’s a mirror. The door has a coat hanger. You can put your coat on it. Daddy didn’t put his coat on the coat hanger.”
Able to think clearly once again, I agreed with all her keen observations and set her down afterward. I showed her how to wave her hand and make the toilet flush, which was apparently the greatest thing ever. Until we got to the sink, where we discovered waving your hands made the water run. Then that was the greatest thing ever.
We left the bathroom and passed an employee on the way back downstairs, Charlotte chatterboxing away all the while. They got quite a chuckle from Charlotte’s declaration of “Daddy pees standing up.”