Can I just take a moment to rant a little?
You know what-- I'm going to whether you want me to or not... It's my blog and by the time you know I've asked, this will already be published.
Seriously, though, I need to rant about pubic bathrooms a little... I won't even get into cleanliness or the things you sometimes find on floors because a.) I don't want to think about it and b.) I just don't have that kind of time or energy.
Sometimes, public restrooms are terrifying for Nolan. As a result, they're hugely stressful for me. Is there a hand dryer? SCARY. Automatic flush? HORRIFYING. Other people who need to use the bathroom? WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME MOTHER?!?!?!?!?!?! If he's really got to go (and he's particularly in control that day), he will go in an otherwise horrific bathroom. Otherwise? If I am, somehow, able to get him into it, I may not be able to get him out...
In case you've never used a public restroom with another person (sharing a stall), let me just start by saying it's less than ideal. I'm sure you could probably figure that out without me needing to say that if you've ever used a public bathroom in your life.
Nolan loves to ride in the car, and Kirk works from home, so we find ourselves out exploring on a lot of afternoons. We tend to drive to and through small towns in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa that are all within a reasonable distance from home. When we're out on the road, I do my best to aim for stops that have good bathrooms, because we're still working on toileting... The last thing I want to do is force Nolan into a traumatic bathroom experience if it can be avoided. But we do have to run errands when we're closer to home, too.
Ideally, we'll have access to the beloved Family Restroom. They typically show up in larger big box stores, but one of our favorite regional convenience store chains has started adding them to many of their new construction stores (We love you Kwik Trip-- please don't ever change). So obviously when we're planning stops, we gravitate towards those locations. Or, there's a chain of variety stores that show up in a lot of small towns that we also love to stop in because their restrooms are what we call "single-seaters". A lot of smaller gas stations also have single-seater bathrooms (thanks again, Kwik Trip), so I try to keep my eyes peeled.
Where we tend to run into more problems, though, are the places with multiple stalls. For one thing, this means I'm bringing my adult-sized man-child into the ladies' room with me. Just as anywhere we go, we get strange looks. The youngest of ladies tend to just be confused, though... "Mommy, why is there a boy in here?" is almost immediately followed by an embarassed, "Shhhhhh!!!!!!!" Honestly, I've already heard her ask the question, so just explain to her that sometimes people need more support than others. You'll be doing both her and people of differing abilities everywhere a service by not teaching our youth that we should just pretend everyone's bodies operate the same way (apparently I just found another rant for another time...)
Then there are the logistics of the ladies' rooms. Heck, some of the stalls are so small I can barely fit my whole self in them when I DON'T have Nolan with me. You know the ones... "Excuse me Mr. Toilet, but I'm going to have to straddle you while I close the door" I often refer to these as "Claustrophobia Potties" for good reason. Obviously when I have Nolan with me in public, these are our last choice of bathrooms.
If we do land in the ladies' room, you'd better believe that I'm hoping the accessible stall is open. If it's not, we make due. Usually the stall door stays open with me using my body as a shield. This works just fine if he just needs to urinate quickly. If I need to climb in behind him to wipe his hinder after a code brown, though, it turns into an exhausting wrestling match between me, the walls and the door that never seems to stay where I expect it to. And if I should have to use the bathroom as well, we both cram in. It feels like one of the old "how many frat boys can we fit into a phone booth" pranks (if you're too young to remember phone booths, you'll have to google that shit yourself because that's a rabbit hole my attention span can't risk going down tonight...)
The thing that really gets me, though, is when we do find a beautiful family restroom and it's occupied. I have no problem if it's occupied by a family or even an individual who might need the accessibility it provides. But the thing that makes me a little bit batty is when a pair/ small group of preteen girls strolls out giggling to each other after I've been standing outside with Nolan for several minutes explaining (loudly-- I've no time for subtlety in these situations) that we need to be patient while we wait.
I try my darnedest to give individuals the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're using the family restroom as an accommodation and not simply because they're afraid to poop in the same room as other people (seriously- if you can't poop in a bathroom, where CAN you poop?). But there's one particular big box store where I've found a whole lot of employees using the family restroom lately-- and not just at my local location. I'm assuming there's no employee restroom, but I honestly don't get it. Then again, I just don't have the energy to put in to worrying if other people can smell my toots...
So I guess if I were designing a perfect world, all of the bathrooms would just be single-seater gender-neutral bathrooms. Honestly think of how many problems that would solve... People would be respectful of one another, and they'd leave the facilities with additional supports for the people who needed those accommodations. Heck, they'd even pick up the paper towels that they didn't quite get all of the way into the trash cans, and they wouldn't leave other random stuff all over. And while I'm at it, code browns would smell like... I don't know... fresh baked cookies? Why the heck not.
Actually, that's probably just asking for more trouble-- scratch that. The last thing I need it my kid to think poop smells like something that might be good to eat... And I think I just figured out what tonight's nightmares will be about.