Category Archives: public bathrooms

Public Bathroom Manifesto II

A few years ago, a regrettable horrific life-altering experience in a public bathroom with my two adorable young boys inspired me to draft the Public Bathroom Manifesto.

Two years later (and older), public bathrooms are no less challenging, but my viewpoint has shifted.  These days, I often find myself standing outside of the men’s room, waiting for and worrying about my boys and feeling the prickly pinch of gray hairs sprouting from my head.  I don’t get carded much anymore, and I blame it squarely on all of the time I spend idling outside the door of the [fill in the adjective of your choice] men’s room.

I know you Mamas of little ones are wondering what the hell I’m doing letting my kids go to the bathroom on their own.  I get it.  I once watched my sister send her then seven-year-old daughter to the bathroom in a restaurant by herself.  Around the corner.  Out of sight.  Possibly never to be seen or heard from again.  It was about the same time I was seriously considering harness and leash combos for my busy four- and two-year-old boys, so her “free-range” parenting was unfathomable to me.

But just you wait.  It’ll happen to you, too.  I have a seven-year-old son who wants and deserves a little bit of freedom (and isn’t comfortable in the women’s room anymore), and I have an almost five-year-old son who wants the same thing because second children grow up way too fast and little brothers want everything their big brothers have, including independence.

Despite the danger that lurks everywhere, I’m learning to let go.  I’ve loosened my grip and have begun to allow my kids to venture into the big bad world in small doses, which means occasionally they ride their bikes around the block, and every now and then (although more often than I’d like), they use public bathrooms without me.

In select environments, like small restaurants, our local grocery store, and the library, I let my seven-year-old son use the men’s room on his own, and I let my four-going-on-fourteen-year-old son use the men’s room with his brother.

They know the drill:

(1) Don’t talk to strangers.

(2) Private parts are private.

(3) If someone touches you, scream “HELP!”

(4) Be quick.

(5) Wash your hands.

Even with the rules, it’s by no means easy.  Of course, perverts and pedophiles are a concern.  One could be hiding inside a stall waiting to terrorize one of my kids.  Also, relinquishing control over my curious boys who like to touch everything when the door that says “men’s” closes behind me is excruciating.  Their bathroom habits at home are mediocre at best, so letting them loose in a public bathroom is a recipe for disaster every single time.

A recent appointment at our pediatrician’s office took a mere 17 minutes from start to finish.  That kind of good fortune only comes around once or twice in a lifetime, so it made perfect sense that the public bathroom fiasco that followed while we waited for a prescription at the grocery store was necessary to restore balance to the universe.  (FYI: Until I recover from the trauma, we’ll be using the family restroom at the grocery store, which, by the way, was locked when the fiasco occurred.)

Thus, I’ve drafted a new Public Bathroom Manifesto.  This one is for all of the well-intentioned but annoying people who say useless and irritating shit to Mamas standing helpless outside of the men’s room while their children reap havoc on the other side of the door.

PUBLIC BATHROOM MANIFESTO II:

What NOT To Say To A Mama Standing Outside Of The Men’s Room

Rule 1

Don’t ask a woman with a wrinkled brow, a bulging vein on her neck, and an apprehensive look on her face who is standing just outside the men’s room door:  “Hey, are those your kids in there?”

Duh.  Yes.

Rule 2

Once you identify the aforementioned woman as the Mama of the children in the bathroom, don’t say: “You know there’s another man in there, right?”

Yes, Sherlock.  I’m well aware of the parade of men who’ve walked in and out of the bathroom since my children entered FIFTEEN F**KING MINUTES AGO!  In fact, before you rudely interrupted me, I was using my iPhone to cross-reference all of them, including you, with online mug shots of Florida’s most wanted sex offenders. 

Rule 3

Don’t ask a Mama waiting outside the men’s room with tears streaming down her face: “Can you hear them counting?”

Yes, I have ears.  I can hear them counting backwards from 40 because “that’s how long it will take for the poop to come out.”  And, by the way, I’m also well aware that everyone within a half-mile radius can hear them counting, too. 

Rule 4

Don’t follow the counting question with: “They’re so cute.”

If a Mama’s two young boys are in the men’s room by themselves (indefinitely) – with their private parts uncovered and counting backwards to time the arrival of their poops – it’s not a good time to tell her how adorable you think her children are.  Walk away, sir, walk away. 

Rule 5 

When a Mama’s two boys finally emerge from the bathroom after nearly twenty minutes and she has fire coming out of ears and she’s mumbling punishments to them through a clenched jaw, don’t under any circumstances pipe in to say: “Savor every moment!  Before you know it they’ll be all grown up!”

Dear God, Woman.  I know it goes by fast.  I really, truly do.  But do you know what didn’t go by fast?  The last twenty minutes I spent standing outside of the men’s room while my children did their business among a dozen or so strange men on the other side of the door while my already-paid-for ice cream melted into vanilla soup.  I’m also pretty sure the little one lied about washing his hands, and by the way they’re both walking, I don’t think either of them wiped…anything.  The only moment I’ll savor as a result of this precious experience clusterf–k is the first sip gulp of wine I plan to have after I sanitize them from head to toe in the tub at home.

 

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Filed under boys, public bathrooms

Mama of the Year

I did something remarkable yesterday afternoon.  I’m talking Mama of the Year worthy.  (One could argue that I should’ve done it a long time ago, but this is neither the time nor the place.  Especially not when I’m in the middle of bragging about it.)

You’re not going to believe what I did.  Seriously.  I can hardly believe it myself.  Ready?  I took the boys to our local public library to get their very own library cards.

Oh yes I did!

My mother, a reference librarian, should be particularly proud. I stress the word “should” since I waited so damn long to do it.  Is there a word to describe the act of feeling simultaneously pleased and disappointed?  In my defense, Dylan chewed books when he was a toddler, so going to the library seemed irresponsible.  Since he’s almost seven now, this is probably a good time to shut up.

Any-who…

I marked the momentous occasion with proof pictures.

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Writing their names on their library cards!

Hang on a minute.  They got library cards and practiced their fine motor skills?  I need to pat myself on the back.  (Again.)

After checking out a few books, having a teachable moment about how we buy at the store and borrow at the library (a foreign concept for my mini shopaholics), and pooping in the library bathroom (we poop everywhere), we set our sights on the playground across the street.  It, too, was an opportunity to flex my Mama muscles.  I don’t mean to brag again, but I pushed the kids on the swings.  Both of them.  (True story.  I swear.)

And I’m not nearly done.  After our jaunt at the park, I had big – huge – dinner plans.  No leftover macaroni & cheese or frozen chicken nuggets nuked in the microwave for my brood.  (Not last night, anyway.)  No, I had my sights set on a Cooking Light recipe for hummus and brown rice fritters.  You heard me right.  Fritters.  Made with hummus and brown rice.  For realz.

The recipe, by the way, required me to dust off the Cuisinart.

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No problem.  Not for this Mama of the Year nominee.  It took a few batches to get them perfectly golden, but I did it.

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Almost.

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Ah, just right.  Of course.

Don’t hate me.  No really, don’t.

Dylan tried the fritter* and then immediately gagged in his hands.  Riley liked them until he saw his brother regurgitating, after which he tossed his fritter across the table.  Perhaps I did a little bit too much tooting of my horn, if you know what I mean.  As Dylan often says, no one likes a bragger, which is probably why the evening spiraled into a whining, crying, gagging, fritter hurling, and wine-drinking (me not them) event.

Sigh.

But we did get library cards.

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And even though no one ate a fritter (except me**), no one ate a book either.  I guess we can call it a draw.

*Humor and heaving aside, Dylan took a big bite of a new food without hesitation.  Anyone who’s followed our food journey can understand that this was a big deal and a positive step.  I may not be worthy of accolades (as if), but I’m one Proud Mama.  

**The fritters were delicious.  A yummy, easy to prepare, protein-rich, and kid friendly meal idea.  (For someone else’s kids.)

Submit your Mama of the Year nominations in the comments.

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Filed under books, cooking, food issues, Gloating Mama, motherhood, parenting, Proud Mama, public bathrooms, recipe, shopping

Game Changer (or One Public Bathroom At A Time) (or Vagina)

Wow.  So, apparently the word “vagina” attracts a lot of readers.   Yesterday’s essay, “I have a vagina, and it’s private,” was one of my most popular posts since starting this blog more than two years and 259 posts ago.  I’m sure some people initially clicked through solely because they saw the word “vagina” and thought: What the hell is the Runaway Mama doing now?  I admit I put “vagina” in the title for a little bit of shock value, but I also knew that once people read the post, they would realize the word “vagina” was hardly scandalous (compared to the incestuous rabbi and the guy molesting autistic kids).  Whatever your reason for reading it, thank you for doing it and thank you for sharing it.

Hearing Stacey Honowitz speak was a game changer for me.  You know me well enough to know that I’m always worried anxious freaked out about my kids and their safety.  What I realized after Wednesday’s presentation was that even though I score big points for being a mildly ridiculously over-protective parent, I don’t pass enough of the awareness on to my kids.    Yes, we’ve talked about stranger danger, and, yes, we talk about penises often (Mamas of little boys will understand), but I need to do more to empower them to protect themselves.

Yesterday, Dylan used a public bathroom by himself.  Twice.  Once at school and once at the grocery store.  As you can imagine, both times were a teensy bit stressful for me, especially given my newfound pedophilia radar.  I just couldn’t shake the image of a creepy guy hiding behind a stall door and waiting for a young, vulnerable boy to grope or worse. But guess what?  In the end, I chose optimism over evil.  Even when an older gentleman walked into the men’s room at the grocery store just after Dylan (gulp), I took a (very) deep breath and chose to believe he was not a pedophile.  I chose to believe that old, jolly man was one of the good guys.  I was sure of it!  Besides that, I drilled Dylan about how his private parts are private and that no one had the right to look at or touch his penis.  I told him to get in and get out fast and to wash his hands.  What else could I do?  I prepped him as best as I could for the big, bad world and then I loitered outside the bathroom door and alternated between hyperventilating and yelling, “Are you okay, Dylan? Are you almost done in there?  I’m right here…right outside the door…if you need me!”

When Dylan finally emerged, he said, “Mommy, I have to tell you something.”  Oh, dear God.  He said, “There was no soap.”  I said, “But you washed your hands anyway, right?”  And he said, “Yes.”  Then we went to the bakery for a cookie.  See, it is possible to navigate the terrifying world we live in and still let our kids enjoy some independence.  We just have to do it one day and one public bathroom at a time.

In celebration of new readers and in honor of the unavoidable, creepy, scary (and sometimes dirty and/or buggy) place known as the public bathroom, here are a few oldie but goodie posts you might enjoy reading and sharing with friends.

Public Bathroom Manifesto

A Mother’s Love

Happy weekend!

p.s. Don’t forget to sign up to receive email updates every time I publish something.  Also, like my Runaway Mama page on Facebook to receive new blog post updates and other titillating news and views about motherhood and parenting.  Wait, there’s more!  You can also follow me on Twitter.  Click through on the right side of the blog for all of these super awesome opportunities to have a little bit more Runaway Mama in your life.  I promise I’ll talk about stuff besides vaginas…eventually.

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Filed under parenting, public bathrooms