Holding my 53 lb., 6 year old child out in front of me, high above the height of a toilet while simultaneously squeezing my own oversized derriere through the narrow opening of the public restroom stall, shifting her weight about a foot to the left to avoid the protruding toilet paper holder, her legs dangling dangerously above the filth-coated cesspit we're trying to avoid, the door squeezing my middle as I do my very best Houdini-like dislocation of multiple body parts to get in...
You get the picture.
I'm guessing that unless I'm just off my rocker, and a complete germaphobe, or that you yourself just have absolutely no regard for how horribly disgusting public restrooms really are, then you've certainly been there many times before with your own child. Heck, even without my child being with me, I still manage a very similar dance routine on the path to relief.
Me (taking a deep breath now that we are both firmly entrenched within the closed, locked stall): Now, Sammi, what do you not touch?
Sammi (enunciating very clearly and carefully, so obviously painstakingly-schooled by yours truly): Don't. Touch. Anything.
Me (crouching precariously over the yucky object of fear and terror): Right. Good. No!!! Don't touch that - it's dirrrrrrty! Just. stand. still. Let me pee first, then you can go, okay? Wait - don't open that door! Don't even touch the doorknob, okay? Sammi! When I say "don't touch," I mean "Don't. Touch." Good girl. Thank you. Ewww, you touched the wall. Sammi, please don't touch anything else, okay? Hey, GET OFF THE FLOOR!!!
Then, finally, it's her turn. Wiping the toilet with a giant wad of balled-up paper, probably way more than is necessary, carefully laying some flattened sheets on the seat in preparation for the certainly freakishly-clean, certainly germ-free buttocks of my certainly perfect child, I lift her carefully, gently, trying not to disturb the alignment of backside on paper.
Until she innocently shifts her body to better align her backside on the seat itself, and the paper all but disappears into the cesspool...aaaaaaand...her bare bum actually comes to rest on and in direct contact with the bare seat, and bike shorts and underwear actually touch (gasp!) the underside of the porcelain beast.
I cringe inwardly. No, wait, that's a lie. I cringe outwardly, obviously, sighing loudly as I contemplate ways to keep her clothing from touching her body/my hands/the car seat/air afterwards until I can rush them all into the wash (I'm pretty sure you can wash air...).
And let's not even talk about Sammi's sensitivity to noise. Heaven forbid the rest room has those auto-flush toilets that not only suck urine and feces down into their depths, but threaten to implode the entire universe around you with the loudest SWISH of water you've ever heard. Sammi can't get her hands over her ears fast enough. Yes, those very same hands that had touched the wall/door/littleflappyfemininehygeineproductdepositbox... *Sigh* (Can't we just wrap her in cellophane with holes in all the appropriate places? Boys sure do have it easy!!)
I do cover the auto-flush sensor with toilet paper when I can. I read in Parents Magazine once that it's a good idea to bring Post-It notes to cover the ones that are wall-mounted. Brilliant idea, but the likelihood of me remembering to stick a packet of Post-Its into my bag as I run out the door is pretty slim these days. As a matter of fact, I've thought about it, and told other people about it, for about 6 years now, but have yet to do it myself. I'm lucky if I remember my ID.
And then there's the automatic hand dryer. The slow, inefficient, old-fashioned ones are just fine. She doesn't mind them. She'll even laugh while she dries her hands. The modern, turbo-dry, jet-engine ones, the ones that are so amusing to watch as they blow the veins across the backs of your hands, are not, even remotely, fine. Amusing when you're by yourself. Terrorizing when your child is screaming, crying, alternately trying to dry her hands and cover her ears. I usually pony up my skirt as a towel at that point and hustle her out of there, for which she is grateful.
Trips to public restrooms often result in a) mommy yelling, b) Sammi crying. It's a wonder she hasn't developed a complex, a phobia of public restrooms everywhere. I'm thankful she's flexible and not yet scarred for life.
My next goal is to figure out how to become brave enough to allow her to go into the stall by herself to do it on her own, like she does at home, or at school. My thought is that I now have to wait until her feet can touch the ground so she can put her butt on the seat without using her hands to pull herself up. So does that mean I actually have to go into the stall with her until she's 8? Or do I send her in with a box of antibacterial wipes and teach her how to clean the toilet herself before she touches it in any way? Oh, the dilemmas...
We're fresh off a 12+ hour road trip two weeks ago, followed a week later by an 8+ hour trip, followed by a 4 1/2 hour trip just this past weekend. While my kid has a bladder of iron, I do not, and took every opportunity to make sure she used the rest stop bathrooms nearly as often as I did, just to be safe. How about you? How do you deal with it and keep both yourself and your child sane (and germ free, of course...)? Am I the only one in this predicament?