Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bathroom Narrative

The weight of potty-training days is upon us. So, as you can imagine, I've seen the inside of every public restroom in the tri-state area.

E and I are always out and about, and I've started to suspect that visiting every restroom she can find is less about "having to go" and more about exploring new restrooms. Meanwhile, I say a silent prayer, begging sweet, little baby Jesus to keep us from contracting every known virus in the western hemisphere.

Last week, we took a trip to Shaw's to do a big, 2-week grocery shopping. I had Elle use the bathroom before we left the house, but that didn't stop her from saying, "I really, really have to go potty," as soon as she saw the "Restroom" sign glowing at the back of the dairy aisle.

As you know, my 2-year-old has the vocabulary of a relatively-smart high-school student, and can say all kinds of words and phrases quickly and clearly like "perpendicular" and "easy-peasy lemon squeezy!" In fact, yesterday, while we were driving home, she said, "Mommy, will the blue bus be picking up passengers this afternoon?" and "I think I'd like to buy a blue house. Yes, a blue house with a black bird in the yard." She turns every task into a long, toddler narrative. It's kind of... adorable.

This trip to the bathroom was no different than a walk outside, and she stormed into the Shaw's restroom, commenting on everything from the color of the tile walls to the available number of hand dryers. The Shaw's bathroom doesn't get a lot of customers, so it was quiet except for a loud toddler voice booming off the ceramic tile walls and floors.

"Mommy, let's use this stall."
"Okay," I said, as I closed the door and set her on the potty.
"Mommy! Do you think someone will steal our car-cart?" (the fire-engine one for kids to ride in)
"Oh no, I don't think so. It's full of our groceries, and I'm sure that, if someone sees it waiting there, they'll know we just stopped to use the restroom."
"Mama, can you tell me that story again?"

I repeat the story of the abandoned car-cart. Outside our stall, the restroom door swings open, and I hear heels click across the tile. A stall door slams, and I hear someone sit down.

I stifle a laugh, as I watch E's reaction and prepare for a lengthy narrative in what could only be described as a "stage whisper," as my dear friend Melissa would call it. E is completely unaware that the other sitter can hear her. As a confused look spreads across her face, it begins...

"MAMA!! Someone is IN HERE!"
"Yes, I know. Someone came in to use the restroom."
"MAMA!! What is THAT MAN doing?"
"Well, it's not a man. It's a woman." (I hope.)
"MAMA! Why is it a woman?"
"This is the ladies' restroom, so it's probably a woman."
"Okay," I try to act disinterested in hopes that she'll drop the conversation. It doesn't work.

"Yep. He is..."

I hoped we would avoid the "mystery man" at the sink, but E hopped off the potty, pulled up her pants (never having gone pee-pee herself), and blasted out the stall door to get a better look. Thankfully, it was a sweet, older woman, in artsy clothes, spunky hair, and orange, plastic-rimmed glasses.

She told Elle, "You're absolutely right! I did go pee-pee!"
"Yeah!" Elle replied, giving her the thumbs-up.

I've never spent so much time at Shaw's. I think 3 other families came in and completed their weekly shopping while we were in there. Before check-out, E said she had to go potty again.

How do I know what's real!? I'm living in a Twilight-Zone-like altered-reality in which every day is an endless maze of restrooms, like a 2D video game from the 80s, like Paper Boy, but the object is to just navigate restrooms. All day.

I told her she'd have to wait until we got home and rushed out of the store, broke two grocery bags that the cashier had over-filled, and lost a pound of butter in the parking lot. Next time, I'm sending Mark.

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