For Mothers and Grandmothers Everywhere (and Aunts)
A 3-year-old tells all from his mother’s restroom stall.
By Shannon Popkin
My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we’re in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window.
People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you never have to ask him to turn up the volume It’s always fully cranked. There’ve been several embarrassing times that I’ve wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco.
Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you’d been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:
“Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on DA toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?”
At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full ? 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.
Cade continued, “Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren’t you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh ? Mommy! I’m trying to seein dere. Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some candy!”
I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming newborn when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting.
Trying to divert him, I said, “Why don’t you look in Mommy’s purse and see if you can find some candy. We’ll both have some!” “No, I’m trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!” He started to gag at this point. “Uh oh, Mommy. I fink I’m gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!!” As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself:
OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone. “Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!” He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door.
“Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under DA door? What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at the wady’s feet?” More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation.
“Mommy, it’s time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy.” He started pounding on the door. “Mommy, don’t you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!”
I saw that my “wait ’em out” plan was unraveling. As I sheepishly opened the door, and found an open sink, I thought, Where’s the fine print on the motherhood contract’ where I signed away every bit of my privacy? But as my little herald gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I’d sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.
Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she no longer uses public restrooms.