Written by Emily
I may have mentioned in the past that I do not like public restrooms. I haven’t? Well, let me get you caught up: I DO NOT like public restrooms. I’ve never liked them. Now that I have three children, public restrooms are my second home. With little ones who seem to want to mark their territory everywhere we go, I may as well set up camp and start buying decorative soaps and hand towels for all the public bathrooms we frequent. And while I’m at it, I might hire a short order cook to follow us around because it seems my children really have to use the public facility when food approaches our table. At least I’d be able to get a hot meal.
Today Chloe didn’t disappoint. The breakfast foods were placed on the table and she instantly had to go. And like always, this required immediate attention. I looked around the greasy spoon, and my skin crawled at the thought of the bathroom, but there was no “holding” it. I took a deep breath and my daughter’s hand and tried not to show my disgust.
Behind the wooden door with a handwritten sign that read, “hold down the handle” was a bathroom barely able to fit the two stalls and the sink that lived there. Chloe announced with delight, “What a little bathroom!” She thought it was just her size.
As I tried to make myself smaller to avoid touching the toilet with my coat or any other part of my person, I nearly fainted when Chloe’s hair almost touched the seat as she adjusted her tights. She smiled, “Whoa! That was close. Good thing I just got a hair cut!”
I prepared the toilet seat. The TP nest was stacked so high, the poor child’s head could probably be seen above the stall door. While Chloe did her thing, I tried not to think about strange stains that marked the glittery linoleum walls of this restroom. I tried not to notice the gunk that had collected in the holes where the hinges for the door had been.
When it was time to wash our hands, Chloe giggled, “Look, Mommy, a kids’ sink!” There was no kids’ sink, it was just a strangely low vanity, but Chloe liked it very much. And then, “Oh, I love this kind!” she squealed as she pulled the paper towel from the funnel-like dispenser, trying to see how long she could make it before it broke. “Look at this one, Mommy!” she sang, holding up a large piece of paper towel.
“Oooo, good one!” I answered, finagling my own piece of paper towel and getting a bit irritated that it was tearing in little pieces instead of in one perfect sheet like the one Chloe had.
She smiled and waited, looking around at what I can only imagine she thought was a perfectly lovely bathroom.
Looking at her looking at that dirty, little bathroom, it dawned on me. I need to refocus. She found joy at every turn, even in a public restroom. While my eyes settled on things that would give me nightmares, Chloe found things that made her giggle.
With the holiday season upon us, it’ll be easy to get swept up in the hustle and the bustle. But I think, in the real spirit of things, I need to pause and refocus.
Now, I will never like public restrooms, and I won’t ever want to spend extra time in that little one we visited today, but I can refocus.
Yes, Chloe, those water marks on the ceiling do look like butterflies.
Yes, Chloe, that piece of cheese does look like a Christmas stocking.
Well, at least I can try.