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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

New Lows in Pottying

I did something this evening that may well be illegal and is certainly unseemly. Sometimes circumstance drives us to extremity.

A bit of background. O. and I took a trip up to the suburbs of our nearest Midwestern metropolis to celebrate Easter with my tight extended family this weekend, bringing along my cousin JD, who lives in my town and often travels with us to family gatherings. JD is fifteen, but a moderately serious case of cerebral palsy makes various of his motor, social, and cognitive skills more akin to those of a much younger kid. This includes bathroom skills. He’s been competent for quite awhile now, but his endurance and confidence in matters toilet-related are limited. O. is a recent arrival on the underpants-all-day scene, and as such his toilet needs are also relatively demanding. In other words, when either JD or O. says “I need to pee,” people listen.

The trip home this afternoon ended up being long and harrowing due to driving rain, intermittent thunderstorms, and continual breaking weather news apprising us of tornado watches and warnings in nearby counties. Between the necessity of driving sometimes as slow as 45 on a major interstate due to weather conditions and the bathroom needs of O, JD, and my coffee-fueled self, the two hour trip took three, and a nerve-wracking three for the sole driver.

When we pulled off the interstate, tired, hungry, and cranky, JD immediately announced “I need to pee!” I was heading toward a Walgreen’s about 300 yards away to pick up a box of must-have tampons (did I mention I’m on the rag?), but stopped a couple hundred yards early, pulled into a McDonald’s, and let JD run in to use the can. Okay, now on to the Walgreen’s. In addition to needing a change o’ tampon, I myself had to pee like the proverbial race horse, but O. was sleeping in his car seat and I figured I could wait through one errand and dropping JD off at his house. I ran in, locking all the doors and instructing JD not to open them for anyone under any circumstance, and accomplished a three-minute find-and-purchase tampon hit. When I came back out, O. had just woken up. “He needs to pee,” JD informed me. “I need to pee!” O. said. “Can it wait ‘til we get to JD’s house?” I asked hopefully. No, it could not. I thought of the trek into Walgreen’s with JD and O. in tow to ask if they had a bathroom we could please please use, the search for this bathroom, holding O. awkwardly on top of the big toilet with JD standing by waiting. Then I thought of O’s shiny red Baby Bjorn potty throne sitting two feet away in the trunk. I made my choice.

A minute later, O. was sitting on his red potty (which was perched on the back seat), pants and drawers around his ankles, peeing. We were in a dark, damp, mostly deserted parking lot on a major road, and the whole thing seemed unspeakably seamy at the same time it was utterly laughable. O. finished peeing, stood up while I pulled up his pants, and immediately burst into tears. Any number of (or combination of) things may have triggered this eruption, particularly at the end of our long, trying trip, but to me his tears rang out with accusation: Mama, that was fucking humiliating. I felt a pang of guilt, but much more I felt like sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. JD was clearly a bit shocked. “That’s not the best way to pee,” I said, bearer of wisdom to the next generation, “but it’s better than peeing in your pants.”

Then I dumped my son’s piss onto the Walgreen’s asphalt, clicked O. back into his car seat, chucked the potty in the trunk, and peeled out.


Anonymous eric said...

It may have been emotionaly troubling, but there can be humor in almost everything. Been there with my daughter before (church parking lot and in her shoe:).

9:56 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I actually have heard that some people purposely take the potty with them during long road trips for just such a thing. So don't feel tooo bad. Glad you made it home safely. You deserve a day off after that!

11:30 AM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

Hell, my daughters are seven and nine and there are times when I wish WE had a Baby Bjorn potty in our trunk.

Like driving on I-5, where there are long stretches of road with no civilization in sight, and one of them is asking, every .05 seconds, "DO YOU SEE A GAS STATION YET??!!"

5:23 PM  
Blogger E. said...

Yeah, if it had been on a quiet country road in daylight I think it would have seemed okay. But it was a city parking lot at night in a semi-skeezy part of town (this is the Walgreen's next to an adult video store). I think there may have been a drug deal going down in the only other car parked in the lot. Plus the piss hitting the asphalt, that seemed wrong.

Wrong, but kind of thrilling at the same time.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hey, don't feel bad - I once saw a little boy pee into a plastic Ziploc bag on the NY subway. The worst part? His mom left it ON THE SEAT. I've also seen a little girl squatting to pee into a GUTTER in Soho (also NYC, natch), while her parents looked on. And this during the post-Christmas shopping mob scene. So seriously - while I feel for O, it could always be worse.

1:48 PM  
Blogger E. said...

I love New York in early June or late May.
How about you?
I love watching kids pee in squalid ways.
How about you?

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Being a mother, does it ever get easier?
Please say yes!

11:06 PM  
Blogger E. said...

I do think it gets easier, Melissa, though every stage brings new challenges. As the seasoned mother of a three-year-old, at this point I'd say nothing has been as hard as the first couple months of having a newborn. But every phase of increasing independence makes the job of parenting seem easier to me. I love that O. can use the toilet, for example, even if it occasionally leads to scenarios like this one. And overall the fun and joy definitely outweigh the stress.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous meredith said...

I will be putting a potty in my trunk very soon. I am terrified of this!

12:04 PM  

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