Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Parent"dox: "I Have to go Potty!"

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #19:  "I Have to go Potty!"

How is it that kids know the absolute worst time possible to have to immediately use the bathroom?  

Do they teach this in some secret underground toddler group?  Is there a tutorial on YouTube they're all passing around?  Are they born with a sixth sense to know when the absolute most difficult time to request a trip to the bathroom is?

I don't know exactly how they do it, but they do it.  And they do it well.

Now don't get me wrong.  In the days when each of my children were first starting potty training, hearing those words was absolute music to my ears.  I'd do a little celebratory dance when I'd hear "I have to go potty!" as it meant: 1.) they were actually recognizing when they had to go to the bathroom and 2.) they were actually telling me they had to go to the bathroom.  

The dancing was brought on by thoughts such as these:   Oh, the money we'll save now that we won't be buying boxes of diapers that weigh more than either of my children from Costco.  We'll be rich, I tell you, rich! 

However, now when I hear those words, it can potentially be cause for alarm and without a doubt requires immediate action.  You see, now there are no more diapers (yeah!), but also no more diapers (boo).  (The "boo" part being now that there are only underwear and pants, an accident means a much larger, more complicated, mess to deal with).  Still more emphasis on the "yeah!" than the "boo," but you catch my drift.  

I experienced an instance such as this just yesterday, when I embarked on a 4 1/2-hour car trip with my 3-year-old and 5-year-old. (I can hear you all shaking your heads and smacking your foreheads with your palms now.)  About halfway through our trip back home, I had a fail proof plan to stop at an Outlet Mall to break the trip up, grab some lunch and stretch our legs a little bit by walking around the stores.

The first thing we did when we got out of the van and walked in to the restaurant was for all 3 of us to hit the bathroom.  One of the stalls was out-of-order, which caused a little wait, but nothing too major and we all made it in time.  Success.

We sat down, ordered our food, colored on place mats  and slammed glasses of chocolate milk.  Just as our food arrived and I began cutting up slices of pizza for my kids, my son announced he had to go to the bathroom.  Again.  We had just left the bathroom a mere 20 minutes ago, but he had been in the car for 2 1/2 hours, and he had slammed a glass of chocolate milk, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Because I was on my own, I had to grab my purse, grab both kids, head to the bathroom, and pray our server didn't tell her manager to call the police because we skipped out on paying the bill.  

Remember that out-of-order stall from earlier?  Yup.  Still out-of-order.  We waited and waited and waited and thank goodness, so did my son's bladder.  

When we got back to the table, our food was still there and no armed guard was waiting with handcuffs to take me away, so that counted as a victory.  We finished our meal, I gave my debit card to our server, and while she was running my card, my daughter announced she had to go to the bathroom.

Really?  Really?

But, alas, the whole "2 1/2 hour car ride" and "slamming chocolate milk" and "she's 3 years old" and "the mess factor" and all flashed before my eyes, so I grabbed my purse, grabbed my daughter, and hoped the server wouldn't assume we really did skip out this time and I had just left her my debit card as a thank you gift for her to use freely as she saw fit.  

Just for good measure, my son also decided to stage a sit-in in protest, and refused to leave the table and go to the bathroom.  As I was busting out all the negotiation skills I've picked up from watching Flashpoint to use on my son, by the grace of God, the server returned with my card.  I signed the slip and was able to get my son to come with us because I told him we were leaving after the super speedy bathroom stop, and thankfully he conceded.

Third trip to the bathroom in one restaurant trip, for those of you who are counting.

Remember that out-of-order stall from earlier?  Yup.  Still out-of-order.  And the line was now spilling out the bathroom door, into the restaurant.  I figured this was not a good sign in any way, shape or form.  I loaded the 3 of us up in our Minivan, and headed over to the information center of the Outlet Mall in the next building over, as I knew there was bathroom with lots of stalls.  My daughter was a champ, and held out the 2 minutes until we got there.  

Sigh of relief.  We were out of the woods on the whole bathroom thing.  Or so I thought...

We left the information center and drove to the neighboring building at the Outlet Mall and headed into the toy store.  In my Mom Brain, I figured I'd let them take as much time as they wanted to wander around and look and play and pick out one small toy before I strapped them back in their car seats for 2 more hours on the road.  The first 10 minutes in the store went according to plan, and all was right with the world.  Minute 11, however, went something like this...

"Mom, I have to go potty!"

My daughter.  Again.  

Now you may be thinking "Did she really actually go the other 2 times?"  Yes, yes she did.  

Or maybe "Does she have some sort of medical thing going on here?"  No, no she doesn't.

Just a need to teach me about another of life's "parent"doxes:  Kids will always need to go to the bathroom at the absolute worst possible time.  And as parents, there's not a single thing we can do about it.

At this Outlet Mall, there aren't public restrooms in the individual stores.  They are only at certain points and at certain buildings within this particular seven-building Outlet Mall.  Remember how we drove to this other building?  To get back to the information center where the nearest bathroom was, I was going to have to get my kids out of the toy store, walk to the car, strap them both in their car seats, drive back to the other building, unbuckle them both, and run frantically through the information center to the back where the bathrooms were.  With my 3-year-old, there was no telling if we could make it through all that without an accident.  

I wasn't going to chance it.

I tried to get my kids out of the toy store as quickly as possible.  (I'm going to let you picture how that went, especially considering I had already told them they could each pick out a toy before we left.  Two words: Not. Well.)  I carried my daughter and told my son to run as fast as his little legs would take him, and yes, indeed, we made it.  We made it.  For a trickle.  Ladies and gentlemen, a trickle.  

What's worse, though, is that I knew this was the beginning of the end. Based on past experience with my daughter, I knew this particular "I have to go potty!" combined with the look on her face and "the walk" I was seeing in the toy store, it really meant "I'm gonna have to poop...sometime soon, but I'm not exactly sure when...and make no mistake it's going to happen...but it might be awhile...or it might be really soon...your guess is at good as mine...but this is real, so don't ignore it."  

Needless to say, we made this run between these two buildings two more times.  

Two.  More.  Times.  

(I'll spare you the details, but the third and final trip did prove to be successful.)  

For those of you keeping score at home, that was six -- yes, count 'em SIX -- different trips to the bathroom in one 2-hour time period.  

Thankfully, the rest of the trip home was uneventful, and didn't contain a single bathroom stop.  I would be lying if I told you the thought of putting both my kids in diapers the next time I took them on a road trip by myself didn't cross my mind at least once, if not twice, on the ride home.  

But then I decided against it, as I figured the cost of inevitable therapy for them later in life would negate the savings on not buying cases of diapers any more.  

But just barely.

On the days you spend a good portion of your day running back and forth to the bathroom with toddlers in tow, You Are a Good Mom.

(If you're really lucky, maybe someday my husband will tell you the story of my son having an "I have to go potty!" moment during the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom. All I can tell you is my husband had what can only be described as a moment of pure parenting genius.  Genius, I tell you.  But that story, my friends, is for another day...)  


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