Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Woman in the Walker made my daughter wet her pants

In the middle of the closing hymn during sacrament meeting, Miriam stood on the bench and whispered in my ear that she needed to go potty.

"Can you hold it for a minute?" I asked. "After this song is the closing prayer and then we'll go, okay?"

She agreed. I don't know why I didn't just take her when she asked. Perhaps it was because I was holding the baby. Perhaps it was because I had to gather up a few things to take to primary. Perhaps it was because I'd already been up and down more than once during the meeting and wanted to pretend that my children didn't have the attention span of fruit flies. Whatever my reasoning I thought it would be better to wait at the time.

Here's the thing about kids and potty breaks though: it's never better to wait.

I know that. Deep down inside I know that. But I forgot.

I forgot that I usually have to beg my children to go potty. "Did everyone go potty before putting on their shoes?" I'll say before we leave the house. "Miriam—did you go potty? Rachel—did you go potty? Why don't we all go potty one more time? I don't care if you just went. You can go again! I have to take Benjamin potty, anyway."

I forgot that the reason I have to beg my children to go potty is because they never think of going on their own until it's an emergency. By the time the words "I need to go potty" escape their lips they're usually already dancing around and I have approximately 2 minutes to locate a toilet before things get...warm and wet. This is easy to do at home.

"I need to go potty!"

"Great—go do it then."

The toilet's at the end of the hall. Always.

Out in public things are a little more troublesome, which is why I should know to never (ever) ask my kids to "hold it for a minute," but I did anyway, and that was my first mistake.

After the closing prayer I plopped Benjamin on Andrew's lap (and might've grabbed my primary stuff; I don't remember) picked up Miriam and fled to the hallway. We were beetling through the crowd—dodging chatty teenage cliques on the left! ducking between a conversation on the right! swerving out of the way of an oncoming Sunbeams class! limboing ourselves out of the path of a nine-year-old swinging their scripture case wildly through the air!

Things were going perhaps a little too smoothly when murphy's law planted a roadblock right in front of us: a woman with a walker. She moved like an ox cart—oh, how slow! Her walker wheels creaked as they moved along—cre-eak, cre-eak, cre-eak was their song!

"I need to go potty!" Miriam reminded me, bouncing up and down on my hip.

"I know, I know, I know!" I assured her, bouncing a bit myself in my attempt to get around or see around the woman and her walker.

There was no way around her. Doors were opening up on the left of us, spilling oodles of children into the hallways and making them seem five times smaller. The woman hugged the right side of the hall, trying I'm sure to take up as little of the hallway as possible but leaving us no escape route. But we were almost to the restroom. Surely we could just follow her—ever so slowly—around the corner and then rush into the bathroom and do our business.

I resigned myself to plodding along behing the woman with the walker. We rounded the corner.

"Now's our chance!" I thought to myself and go ready to spring out from behind her and make a break for the bathroom door.

Unfortunately that's exactly where this woman was headed!

I made one last attempt to salvage the situation.

"Let me get the door for you!" I suggested sweetly, putting my arm out in front of her so that I could get the door.

"No, thanks," she said. "I can do it."

"It's really no problem," I insisted.

"I'm not as feeble as I look," she said coldly, and braced her walker against the door to prop it open as she inched her way forward. Her walker took up the entire doorway.

She left her walker in the little entry way between the bathroom and the hallway, still propping the door open and began hobbling her way to the second door—one hand on the walker, one hand reaching for the door.

"Let me help you," I said again, trying to sneak past her so that I could hold the door (and send my three-year-old sprinting for the potty) and then support her as she shuffled to a stall of her own. I had the best intentions for everyone—helping a little old lady and a child get to the potty on time all while managing not getting peed on, myself.

"I'll do it myself!" the lady snipped, inching the door open and using the doorframe for support as she, with great effort, made her way over the thresh hold.

This was taking forever. And so, in an act of heroic selfishness, I set Miriam on the ground and pushed her under the old lady's arm, praying there was an open stall. Miriam acted as if she was abandoning a wounded soldier (me) and if we were making a war movie about this I probably would have dramatically whispered, "Go! Save yourself!" Instead I gave her an encouraging nod and she gulped and ducked between the old lady and the doorframe.

From where I was stranded in no man's land I heard the clippity-clop of little church shoes on tile floor and then the *bang!* of a metal stall door hitting the toilet paper dispenser, which could only mean that Miriam was successful in finding an empty stall.

I waited somewhat patiently for the woman to make her way—independently—into the restroom while I long line developed behind me. Curiously this woman did not choose the handicapped stall, although it (along with every other stall (save the one Miriam was occupying)) was available.

Another young mother rushed into the bathroom right behind me. She made a bee-line for the farthest stall while I peeped into one of the closer ones on my hunt for Miriam (who never closes the stall door and is so tiny that you can't see her feet under the door of her stall, which will be hanging ajar like an unoccupied stall would be).

"Oh! Miriam's in this one!" this young mom piped out.

And there she was, sitting on the potty, looking rather depressed.

"I didn't scootch back far enough!" she sniffed. "And I got my underwear all wet!"

Oh, well. At least she didn't pee on the floor. Or on me.

Fortunately, I knew I had an extra pair of undies for her in the diaper bag. There's usually something for everyone in there—socks, fruit snacks, year-old wads of kleenex.

We peeled off her wet underwear and wrapped it in paper towel and even though the idea made her feel very uncomfortable I told her to just put her dress down and walk around as if she had underwear on (because no one would be able to tell!) until we could connect with Andrew and get into the diaper bag. We found him seconds after leaving the bathroom and had her in clean, dry underwear in no time.

The day was saved!

The moral of this story is that it's great to be free and independent until your insistence on being free and independent infringes on another's ability to be free and independent.

Had I been permitted to open the door for this woman (and it would have taken some permitting since she would have had to allow me to get past her so that I could reach the door) she would have been able to get through the door faster—and could have taken her walker right into the bathroom and into the handicapped stall, just sayin'—and Miriam and I would have made it into the bathroom together in time for me to help her help herself. That would have made at least 2/3 of the people involved in the situation much happier (if not 3/3 because I don't think that having anyone hold the door open for you is ever very insulting/painful/horrible).

The other moral of this story is that when your three-year-old whispers in your ear that they need to go potty you just take them—even if it's in the middle of the closing hymn and even if you've already been up and down a handful of times—because some things just can't wait.

1 comment:

  1. Never, ever underestimate the power of the urge to go potty!