Category Archives: public bathrooms

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

Public Bathroom Manifesto


Recent events have inspired me to draft a Public Bathroom Manifesto. Don’t ask me for specifics because I’m in the middle of a delicate psychological process of erasing my memory of the entire experience.

To the Mama who changed her baby’s diaper at the changing station while my boys did their business, I have two things to say: (1) “I’m sorry.” Or, “Your welcome! Taking two curious little boys to the bathroom sure is funny! Glad we gave you a good laugh!” I have a feeling the former is more appropriate. (2) “Enjoy those poopy diapers, Mama. At least your baby isn’t touching the floor behind the toilet.”

I present to you, the Public Bathroom Manifesto.


Rule 1

Touch nothing.

Touch. Nothing.

Rule 2

Keep your private parts private.

Urinal etiquette withstanding, do not strip down and flash your junk until you are safely in a stall with the door closed and locked.  

Rule 3

Do not unlock or open the stall door until every person has made his or her private parts private again.

This almost always happens when Mama is on the toilet.

Rule 4 (boys only)

If the toilet is taller than your private parts, sit.  Or, for Pete’s sake, let your Mama lift you up a few inches.

Pointing your penis to the sky and hoping for the best is strategery at its worst.

Rule 5

Respect other people’s privacy.

Do not look for your Mama – who is having an unexpected and delightful moment of privacy – by getting on your hands and knees and peeking under every single stall until you find her.  

Rule 6

Wash your hands.  No really, wash your hands.  WASH. YOUR. HANDS.

There is no excuse, including “I didn’t touch my penis,” that will ever make hand washing optional.


Filed under public bathrooms, rules