Kiss the date goodbye
And point me toward the bathroom
I did what I had to do
But I’m going to regret
What I did for love, what I did foooooor looooooooove!
Those of you who aren’t fans of A Chorus Line are probably scratching your heads. But I’m about to tell you a story about how far a mother’s love can go…and to what depths it can plunge you.
Depths of, say, the seventh level of hell—otherwise known as taking your kid to the public restroom.
Walk with me as I take you through a most terrible journey.
It was Saturday evening in the bougie district of Santana Row in San Jose. It had been a long day for five-year-old Lucas. Having fought off sleep until 11pm the night before (and then waking at 6:30am), he was in rare form. We went grocery shopping. He played outside in his plastic pool for a couple hours. We went to a friend’s house-warming party. By the time dinner rolled around, kid was RIPE.
He had asked Alex to take him to the bathroom to pee two times in 10 minutes. The third request was for poo. Alex turned to me with the “your turn” look. So off we went.
We entered the first level of hell: public restrooms with bathroom attendants. What was already an awkward bathroom experience (taking a borderline too-old child into the ladies room) became exponentially so, since I knew bathroom attendant lady would have no choice but to stand next to me while I waited for my child to drop a deuce. With a painfully cheerful smile, she pointed us to the largest stall. Thank you, bathroom attendant lady. Without you, I never would have found this place.
But I was indeed thankful. Thankful that I could hide out in the stall and not have to make bathroom small-talk with a woman for whom I had no spare cash for a tip.
After wiping the toilet seat down, Lucas sat upon his throne but something wasn’t right. The lighting. Apparently now we need proper lighting for taking a dump. Welcome to my fresh hell, otherwise known as level two. We left the stall and, like Goldilocks, he tried all the other stalls until he found one that was juuuuuust right. Since it was the tiniest stall, I pulled up a spot next to bathroom attendant lady and decided to get chummy. Figured, what the hell, let’s see if I can’t make an awkward situation even more uncomfortable.
“Sooooo….I guess he’s real particular about where he drops a twosie!”
She didn’t respond. But her way-too-happy-for-a-person-who-hangs-out-in-the-bathroom-all-night smile remained firmly in place. Level three.
I started to shut the door to Lucas’ stall when he shouted back at me. “NO, NO, NO! Door stays open!” Negotiations took place to at least move the door to an acute angle. I flashed crazy-eyed bathroom attendant lady the “so sorry you have to witness this” look. She didn’t move a muscle on her face. Level four.
Then the bathroom “front door” opened and two girls in impossibly tiny dresses with stripper heels and Kardashian extensions flounced in. Lucas slammed the door shut and locked it. Good. I waited for five minutes, standing in tight quarters next to bathroom attendant lady, who at this point should have at least offered me a mint.
Finally, Lucas declared he was done. He tugged on the door but it didn’t budge. He couldn’t get it open. Cue a blood-curdling, Satan-is-pulling-my fingernails-off-one-by-one scream. The child was paralyzed with fear because he couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door. I tried talking to him, instructing him on how to pull the latch over to the side or push it down. I did my best to peer underneath the stall door, but it was too low to the ground. Bathroom attendant lady helpfully did absolutely nothing. Level five.
So I did what any mother would do in the name of love. I laid down flat on my belly on the public restroom floor and seal-shimmied my way into the tiny stall. Ladies and gentlemen, this was still only the sixth level of hell. Why?
Because when I got into the stall, Lucas hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet.