My children are on a self-imposed journey to visit every bathroom east of the Mississippi River. They have conspired together and are determined to make this happen. It doesn’t matter if we are in our hometown or traveling – we must check out any and all bathrooms. There will be no bathroom left behind.
The kids know that if they mention that they have to go to the bathroom, I will move mountains to find them a toilet immediately. This is due to the fact that children don’t mention their need to go until they are a sneeze away from soiling themselves. I can prompt them to go before we leave the house, but if they are otherwise preoccupied, forget about it.
Case in point, we were leaving my parent’s house recently and getting ready for the 20-minute drive back home. I told my 4-year-old to go to the bathroom before we left. He said that he did and we drove away. I stopped for gas and when I did so, he began to yell through the window at me that he had to go NOW. I finished filling up the tank, unbuckled both boys from their car seats, and hustled them into the gas station. The cashier showed us the back room that housed the toilet and I told my son to go.
“Mom, it smells horrible in here! It smells like old toots!”
“Yes, it does smell bad.”
“I can’t go! I’m going to barf. I can’t pee, I can’t pee!”
This is when I tried to take a deep breath (then regretted it because of the awful stench) to calm down. I was holding my 2-year-old who kept grabbing on to a rusty pipe and then popping his thumb in his mouth. He’s up-to-date on his tetanus so he should be fine. Anyway, I managed to keep my cool as I said to my oldest, “You are going to need to find a way to put some pee in that toilet. We are 6 minutes from our own bathroom and you told me that this had to happen now. Make it happen.”
Two drops of pee made it into the toilet. But at least we know what the bathroom looks like at the local Sunoco station.
A few weeks later, we were traveling the hour-and-a-half to my in-laws over Memorial Day weekend. Again, I hear from the backseat that nature was calling and it was calling hard. We had to drive ten more minutes before we could reach the nearest public toilet. Do you know where that toilet happened to be? Boalsburg, PA – the birth place of Memorial Day. Do you know where you do NOT want to randomly stop on Memorial Day weekend? Boalsburg.
As it turns out, it was a false alarm. But the boys can cross the Boalsburg Mart bathroom off of their list of places to see.
We recently took a long trip to South Carolina and back for vacation. Normally, we drive through the night so that the kids are sleeping and the trip doesn’t feel as long to them. However, my husband and I decided that this year we had no desire to struggle to stay awake and then figure out who had enough energy to take care of the kids once we reached our destination. As a result, there were more bathroom breaks.
I always love it when my 2-year-old insists that he use the restroom. He still wears a diaper and I can’t get him interested in using the toilet at home to save my life. As soon as we go somewhere, he immediately wants to visit the bathroom. Part of me feels like saying, “Just go in your pants!” But a bigger part of me wants him to learn to wipe his own butt. So we journey into the restroom where he attempts to unroll the toilet paper and then we all get covered in soap and water because holding up a small child so that they can ‘wash’ their hands is a nightmare.
It’s all worth it because the Buffalo Wild Wings in a random Virginian town is now one less bathroom for us to visit.
Sometimes I’m the one who needs to use the bathroom. On long trips, I try to go as long as possible but that is dangerous because you never know when you might get stuck in traffic. For example, on our recent trip down south, I took over the wheel and about an hour later realized I could use a bathroom break. I didn’t want to stop so soon, so I continued on. At one point, I saw a beautiful rest stop that looked like it was part of a day spa. We were seven hours into our drive and I really could have used some cucumber water and a ten minute neck massage! But no, I soldiered on only to see a sign a mile down the road that said, “Next Rest Stop – 108 Miles.”
Grrrreat. It’s just me, the road, and a handful of shady Exxon’s between my bladder and a decent toilet. If my option is retrieving a key from a gas station worker so that I can walk around to the back of the building to pee in a room that looks like it should be taped off for a crime scene investigation or just hold it, I think I’ll hold it.
Once we reached our destination, the kids were able to hit up more bathrooms than I can even mention. They’ve got to be making great headway with their list.
At one restaurant, the boys took turns making trips with me. My oldest locked the door and then crawled out the bottom rather than unlocking it. Nope, you need to crawl back under and unlock that thing and then I need to wash your clothes as soon as possible now that you crawled all over a bathroom floor. My youngest kept hugging the weird statue that was in the corner of the bathroom and then we both got drenched during the hand-washing portion of the bathroom visit.
*I would like to take a brief moment to discuss family bathrooms. These seem like a great idea until you realize that your kid is tall enough to unlock the bathroom door and run out, leaving the door open while you are still on the toilet. This may or may not have happened at Kohl’s.
While shopping, we made another trip to the restrooms. We walked in and my son, always feeling the need to comment on everything, said, “Someone is pooping in here!”
This was accurate, but I quickly explained that this is a bathroom and that’s what people do in bathrooms. Also, just zip your lip.
He just kept at it. “It’s smelly! Are they done pooping yet?” Judging by the orthotic sneakers I saw under the stall, I can only hope and pray that this woman was too hard of hearing to catch what was going on. Given the fact that my son must state everything at the loudest possible volume, especially things that he should keep to himself, I doubt she missed it. My apologies, innocent bathroom goer – but yet another venue has been crossed off of the list.
On the way back home, we stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast and a quick stretch. The thing that baffled my mind was that this McDonald’s had a PlayPlace, but no diaper changing station in either restroom. Whaaaaat!? You have tried to accommodate the many children that will pass through your doors by offering a place to play, but you failed to allow their parents to change them?? C’mon, man! My oldest could go, but I had to wrestle my youngest in the front seat of the car in order to give him a fresh diaper. At least we put a check-mark beside that location.
The last time I asked the boys, we had only 4,796 bathrooms to go! Ain’t no stoppin’ us now!
*On a side note, there needs to be changing stations in men’s restrooms, too. Is it really that much of a shocker that men take their kids places by themselves? I don’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has not been able to change our children’s diapers in the men’s restroom because there is no option to do so. This is an easy fix, people!