Now, no mother who ever leaves the house with her young children can survive their childhood if she has a public restroom phobia. Any kind of bathroom phobia, in fact, is just another of the luxuries that mothers discover they must do without. So I’ve developed coping mechanisms, and I’ve been getting along fine, thanks in part to the fact that if ever Dad’s along on an outing, bathroom duty is all his. Quality male bonding: he lines up the troops, reviews the lecture (no touching anything, no looking under stalls, no asking any questions about anything you see or hear or read until you are all out of the restroom again…), and marches them all in and out.
Until recently, that is, when I entered a new stage of motherhood, enough to make a person phobic all over again: taking a toddler girl to use public restrooms. No such thing as a non-sitting visit. Oy. So. Again, I needed to find ways to cope, and hopefully to appear nonchalant enough not to phobicize my dear daughter, who will doubtless have enough other issues of her own as a consequence of being raised by me ;P. On our post-Christmas road trip, I shored up my mental health by taking along some of those disposable toilet seat covers, the ones that are specifically designed to cover all surfaces of the seat that little hands can’t seem to keep from grabbing. And all things considered, those gas station bathroom stops (*shudder*) went pretty well. (Uh, except for that little incident with the automatic flusher, but we got through it.)
All this is mere preamble to what is possibly the most horrific public restroom story I have ever heard, which came to me secondhand, but with horror all undiminished: A mother was supervising her young daughter’s bathroom visit. The girl was chewing gum, which dropped out of her mouth and down onto that middle place of the toilet seat. Before the mother could react, the girl picked up the gum and popped it back into her mouth. (Can you hear the screaming in my head? Can you?!)
From the time of hearing that story and forevermore: never, never, ever shall a tender-yeared child of mine be found chewing gum in a public restroom.