Congratulations! You have successfully potty trained your toddler. No more flushing (pun intended) your money down the money pit called diapers! No more gagging as you change an especially precocious bowel movement! You are ecstatic and proud to take your toddler out into the world armed with only an extra outfit and underwear, just in case. (But you know your toddler’s potty prowess renders even that unnecessary).
And then it happens. You are in a public place and your toddler walks up to you and informs you that she has to go poo poo. Oh. Righto. The car is all the way in the parking lot, and your only option is the (cue ominous music) public restroom. This contingency never occurred to you in your diaper free induced euphoria. But there is no turning back now, so you gird your loins and lead your toddler by the hand into that well known vat of germs and the raw sewage of complete strangers.
You give her Rule #1 of going into public restrooms: DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. “Yes, mama,” she chirps, completely oblivious to the massive importance of that instruction. You squeeze her into a stall with you and reiterate that important command. She runs into the stall, puts both her hands on the toilet seat, looks into the toilet and squeals excitedly, “Look at this potty, mama!” Being of the stoic Cuban temperment, you immediately screech, “Don’t touch that!!!!” You drag her away from the toilet and try to keep calm. This is going really well already. You take the obligatory first piece of toilet paper off the roll and toss it straight into the toilet. Because, you know, someone could have touched it with their poop hands. Then you use the rest of the roll to pad the entire toilet seat. Meanwhile, your toddler is touching just about everything. The walls, the floor, the door, opening the lid of the little trashcan for feminine hygiene products and peering in, etc. You grab her, pull down her pants, and sit her on the toilet. You both stare at each other, her with a placid smile on her face and you with a grimace, until she has finished doing her business. Then you help her clean up and pull her pants back up.
Since you are pregnant, you naturally also have to use the bathroom. When your toddler hears you doing your business, she immediately starts clapping and cheering loudly so that everyone in the restroom can hear her. “Yay mama!!! You went peepee in the potty! Good job!” You thank her graciously for the support and encouragement. When it comes time to leave the stall, your toddler wants to flush the toilet. So, you dangle her above the toilet and try to get her to kick the flusher. She is unsuccessful at this endeavor with her tiny toddler legs, and not wanting to spend the rest of the afternoon in this stall, you give up and kick the flusher yourself. Cue toddler tantrum because she wanted to flush the toilet.
You drag her out of the stall kicking and screaming and up to the counter to wash her hands. The prospect of hand washing brightens her up considerably. You hoist her up to the counter and balance her against it while you turn on the water. She complains that her sleeves are not rolled up. You drop her back down to the floor and roll up her sleeves. Then, you hoist her back up to the counter. You wet her hands and then shift her over to where the soap dispenser is and instruct her to hold her hands under it. She fails to understand the soap dispenser concept. You demonstrate, shifting her weight to one arm and placing her hand under the soap dispenser with the other. But every time you let go of her hand to push the soap out of the soap dispenser, she moves it out of the way again. Repeat this step a few times as the soap pools on the counter. Give up and take some soap off the counter and put it on her hand. Toddler is frustrated with herself and shows her frustration by putting her soapy hand in her mouth. She is distressed by the taste and your squawk of dismay. Cue second toddler tantrum as you wipe off her tongue with a paper towel. You rinse her hands off as people stop to stare at you, drop her to the floor so that you can wash your own hands and pray that she doesn’t have one of those tantrums where she throws herself facedown on the floor. You finish your hand washing in record time, pick up your screaming toddler, and head out of the door, wondering why the heck you ever decided to potty train her in the first place.
So, whenever you hear a first time mom wondering if she should go ahead and start potty training her 13 month old, you just can’t stop yourself from grabbing her by the shoulders and saying to her in your best prophet of doom voice, “Nooooooooo!”