If you want to know how somebody copes under pressure, just send them into a public bathroom with a toddler.
You think a 12-hour flight with a small child would be a terrible experience?
It’s nothing, compared with the horror of a quick visit to a public restroom.
First, there’s the touching. Toddlers love to touch things. Here is a list of things my toddler has touched in public bathrooms:
- The toilet roll holder. It didn’t look clean.
- The floor. She didn’t just touch this, she lay down on it.
- The lock on the door. It is always nice to wonder whether this will be the moment you are revealed to the world mid-pee.
- The sanitary towel bin. Yep, the lid is just so fun to play with.
- An old woman. To be clear, the old woman wasn’t in the cubicle with us – she was near the sinks. I don’t know why my toddler touched her, but she did.
- The nappy bin. Anything with a lid is irresistible to my toddler.
You probably think I am a terrible mother. I understand that, but I have to pee sometimes. I have mastered the art of doing it quickly, but even the speediest of pees gives my toddler enough time to touch all of the above and more.
As soon as my pants are down she acts like a crazed contestant on a game show, where the aim is to get as many germs on your hands in as short a time as possible.
If there were such a game show, she’d win the boat, the new TV and the all-expenses-paid family holiday to Spain every week.
As if my toddler becoming a walking petri-dish wasn’t traumatising enough, there’s also the horror of the public bathroom silence. You know what I mean – that awkward moment when you’re in a public bathroom and your pee is really loud and you know everyone can hear it.
Even that’s nothing, compared with the embarrassing and incriminating things a toddler will say – also very loudly.
10 Things Toddlers Say Loudly In Quiet Public Bathrooms
When the bathroom is deathly quiet – apart from the muffled laughter coming from the next cubicle – these are some of the things all toddlers will say in a loud voice:
#1: I’m Doing A Very Big Poop
At what age do you learn not to talk about pooping in public? I’ve no idea, but it’s not toddler age. Toddlers love going to the toilet. There’s the ceremonial part (the hand-washing and drying), the achievement (doing a big poop) and the lively discussion (loudly explaining exactly how the poop is going).
Toddlers will tell you things like how many they did, how loudly they plopped and how bad they smelled. And they won’t just tell you, they’ll tell everyone within earshot.
#2: I Think Somebody Is Doing A Smelly Poop
Bad luck if the person in the cubicle next to you was hoping to push out a sneaky poop without anyone noticing. She hadn’t bargained for the toddler ‘poop patrol’ being on duty.
Toddlers love poop so much they have an inbuilt radar for poop in the vicinity. They can smell it, hear it and sense it. Oh, and talk about it. They love to talk about it. Ok, sure, everyone in the toilet area knows somebody is doing a poop, but most people are too polite to mention it. Not your kid. She’s on the rooftops yelling about it for all to hear.
This is yelled to the woman in the next cubicle as your child tries to escape your cubicle by going under the partition wall.
She has her face pressed to the urine-coated floor, mouth disgustingly close to the undoubtedly filthy tiles, as she tries to embark on a friendship with the woman in the next cubicle.
The woman is understandably horrified, with her knickers around her knees and an unexpected visitor at ankle height. You lift your child off the floor, call out an apology to the woman next door and quickly exit the cubicle in search of a hosepipe to clean up your child.
#4: I Really Want To Touch It
Toddlers are rubbish at self control. They have none, and they are not interested in working on it. In public restrooms up and down the country, toddlers and parents are acting out the same script day after day. And it always ends the same way.
Parent (happy sing-song voice): Don’t touch that, it’s dirty.
Toddler: I want to touch it.
Parent (less happy sing-song voice): Don’t touch that bin, it’s filthy.
Toddler: I really want to touch it.
Parent (strained voice): Don’t touch the toilet seat.
Toddler: I need to touch it.
Parent (yelling): I said don’t touch it!
Toddler: I touched it.
Parent (sighing): Give me your hand.
#5: Uh Oh, Your Hairy Vagina Is Bleeding
As if the rustle of wrappers was not enough of a giveaway that Aunt Flo was in the neighbourhood, you have toddlers with you to announce it to the world. And don’t expect them to spare you any embarrassment.
Sure, we shouldn’t be embarrassed about our bodies. Periods and pubic hair are totally normal, but that doesn’t mean you want everyone in the public bathroom to know: “Mummy! There is a big blob of blood hanging on your vulva hair. Hahaha. Oh, it fell off. Splat”.
#6: Your Poo Face Is Funny, Mummy
Toddlers love saying this loudly in quiet public bathrooms. They even love saying it when you’re not pooping and when you definitely aren’t doing a poop face, but there’s no point arguing back because then everyone will just think you are a big dirty liar.
People always believe kids. It’s your word against theirs. Everybody thinks you pooped, they think you made the bad smell and they’re all wondering what your poo face looks like.
#7: That Dirty Woman Didn’t Wash Her Hands
Nobody can judge quite like a morally outraged toddler. Ignoring the fact they have ‘forgotten’ to wash their own hands, they love pointing it out when an adult makes the same mistake.
Your toddler will chase down the offender, pointing at her and loudly informing everyone else in the room that person didn’t bother washing her hands.
You almost feel sorry for the disgusting creature who chose not to wash her hands, but instead just gave them a quick brush down on her trousers before leaving the restroom.
Well, almost. But then you remember you’re about to touch the same door handle, just moments after she did, and all of her toilet germs are going to end up on you. And then you don’t feel quite so bad for her.
Instead you high-five your loud judgemental toddler and point out the socially disgraceful indiscretions of other bathroom users.