Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mommy's Life Lessons #1: The Public Restroom

Photo by Mr. T in DC (Flickr)
Dear Baby Girl:

Right now, you have the world's most convenient (although probably least hygienic and altogether ickiest) way to relieve yourself, but it's not always going to be this way. One day, you'll learn to use the little potty, and then the big potty, in the privacy of our own home.

But the day will come when you'll feel that urge and realize you aren't within convenient range of the nice, clean, pristine (don't call me out here) toilet in our bathroom. Instead, you'll have to lock yourself in a little cubicle where lots of other people do their business on a daily basis. It's not scary. I promise.

Try not to think too hard about what this means in terms of things like germs and bacteria. Mommy got over those things long ago. Germs are everywhere and you just have to deal. There is something else at stake here: your privacy. Not that you have any right now because you just go wherever you want to whenever you want to, but as you get older, you'll start to appreciate that you get to do your business with a fan and locked door between you and anyone who's within earshot.

And so, here are some tips I have collected for the times when you have to use the not-scary-I-promise public restroom, from my years of (ahem-un)pleasant experiences.

1. Poop happens. I know you know that, since I have to deal with yours on a regular basis. But cut the other ladies in the restroom some slack. If you think the lady next to you isn't feeling quite comfortable with the idea that what she's up to is normal and natural, there are a couple of ways you can help her out. "Accidentally" flush the toilet in your stall. Get done with your business as quickly as you can. Make lots and lots of noise rustling around in your purse for something. Maybe even change your mind and use the restroom another time.

2. Everything above applies to when you realize you're like some people and are completely embarrassed to go #2 with anyone else in the room. I know someone who sometimes walks into a restroom, sees someone else is in one of the stalls, realizes she "forgot" something, and walks right back out again. Clever, right?

3. If you walk into the restroom and realize someone you know is in there and you want to avoid being the lady in situation #1, remember that it's totally acceptable to have walked into a bathroom in order to wash your hands. I'm sure people do it all the time on purpose.

4. Never, under any circumstances, try to make conversation with the lady in the stall next to you, even if you're friends. I don't care what guys say about how we have to "do things in pairs." That's just awkward for everybody.

5. And finally, this one is common courtesy and not even based on privacy. Never occupy the stall that's meant for people who are handicapped. I don't care how badly you need to go or how much you want the extra space or how desperately you want to avoid sitting directly next to another person. The day you step out and realize someone in a wheelchair is waiting to use the restroom, you will hear me saying "I told you so" in your head.

And so, BG, these are your Public Restroom Commandments. I hope that you will be one of those people who just believes the "everybody poops" thing and doesn't care what other people think. Not a person who's so anxious that she begins unzipping her fly as she makes a beeline to the stall just to get everything over as quickly as possible. Not that I know anyone like that.



  1. Great post. While I know that there are thoughts that things are different in the men's room, when you have a 4 y/o with you, it is actually quite similar. Any sounds coming from a stall either leads to thunderous laughter or the question "Daddy! What was that?" I may use a few of these suggestions myself. Thanks!

  2. Haha, oh boy, I forgot that this phase will happen well before she is using public restrooms on her own. So much to look forward to!