This holiday, most bloggers are eloquently posting their gratitude for friends, family, sound shelter, and the like. While I too am thankful for those things, I spent part of my week being absolutely overwhelmed with a certain compassion provided by strangers: the patience of women who wait in restroom lines because my son is taking a twenty minute poop.
God bless mothers. We put ourselves at great risk each time we boldly venture out of our homes with small children who roll us naively into predicaments. This applies to situations as seemingly mundane as a trip out for coffee and a cookie, especially when a trip to the restroom is likely to be involved.
“This is such hard work!” my four year old said as he strained on the toilet at Starbucks recently. Meanwhile, I was beginning to panic; we’d already endured one knock on the restroom door from a waiting woman. A few minutes after calling out that the room was occupied, my son was still working on some kind of mass production. I stuck my head out the door, murmured an explanation and apology, and retreated back toilet-side to anxiously encourage my son.
“Hurry up, son!”
“I has one more poop!” he said.
After we washed up and left, the young lady outside the restroom was most gracious despite what must have been an uncomfortably pressing bladder. My wee boy tripped happily and lightly past her the way my dog does after relieving her own discomfort in the yard. While many women see the post-poop dance and are amused by it, I have experienced incredibly rude remarks from a few angry non-mothers. I tell them I cannot control my son’s poop. (Sorry, ladies, but if you believe that you can control a boy’s poop now, just wait until you enter a relationship with a grown man when shit becomes a metaphor for something else.)
Lately, I am often trapped near the public toilet waiting for my son to finish up his dedicated service. I have thought about constructing some kind of sign that reads “Small Child at Work” to hang on restroom doors when we regretfully discover that the restroom is a single stall experience and that something other than urine will run afoul. To that sign I would make, I should add these words: “Please pardon anything you hear while you wait!”
“Come on, baby, you can do it!” I’ll say.
“People are waiting. Are you finished yet?”
“I still has poop.” (This statement is followed by a massive grunting sound from the small child.)
“Sweetheart, don’t touch that. And no, it’s not time to play with your wiener. Hurry up!”
“Mommy, my poop is stuck. I need help.”
“Focus, Tiny. You can do it!”
Anyone hearing applause from inside a restroom has to know massive accomplishment has taken place in there. Mothers spend the first several years of a child’s life teaching incredible life skills including proper hygiene and relieving oneself. We need all the understanding we can get while our children are so young. Not only are we teaching our sons to not spray the walls with those little firehoses of pee they wield, but how to wipe their own bottoms without spreading fecal matter on the toilet seat. This is a kind of work that requires surprising diligence and fortitude. Anytime my son needs to use a public restroom, I freeze and hope he does not have to conduct the dreaded number two. I pray that if a line of women develop outside, that these women will be understanding, gracious, and patient.
This weekend at a restroom near the highway, we took a break from travel, and Tiny once again parked himself on the throne. When he was done, the woman waiting outside was so kind to us about having been made to wait. To her and to all women who wait on small children to conduct small, but serious business, this mother is grateful. Thank you!