Potty Training Hell: Public Restrooms


Admittedly, I’m not a bodily fluids kinda girl. I’m easily grossed out and a sympathetic puker. Public restrooms are my own personal kind of hell. The smells. The water on the floor (or is that pee?). Paper towels spilling out of the trash can. It’s all just gross to me. When it’s absolutely necessary for me to use one, I get in and out as quickly as possible.

And then I had a child. And I knew that someday we’d be potty training, and I’d have to make the maddest dashes to the Target restroom or the porta-potty at the 5k. And oh let me tell you how much I dreaded this. But I thought that I’d be able to teach my KatieLady how to get in and out as quickly as I do without touching more than absolutely necessary.

How young. How naïve. How STUPID could I be?

My child, you see, likes to dawdle. Especially if it’s something new or something she doesn’t necessarily want to do or there’s something shiny or her Gramma is with us or there’s a full moon or I looked at her wrong. From the beginning, public restrooms have been a novelty for her.

Let me give you a rundown of how a public restroom visit typically goes for us:

The smells. “Did somebody POOP in here, Mama?!?!”

The self-flushing toilets. “BYE-BYE, PEES!”

The little trash cans on the walls. “Is this for toys for the kids, Mama?!”

Everything said in the loudest possible voice ever.

And heaven forbid I take more than 2 squares of toilet paper. Should this blasphemy happen, I’m quickly admonished with a very growly, “THAT’S ENOUGH.”

And my warnings of, “KATE, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!” go completely unnoticed as she immediately rubs her dimpled little hands all over the seat.

“OMG, MAMA. I think I PEED on the floor! Can you help me wipe it up?!” as she grabs her two squares of toilet paper and attempts to wipe someone else’s urine off the floor. ::shudders::

I swear, she may as well just go ahead and lick the inside of the toilet bowl while she’s at it because I don’t think it could possibly get anymore gross.

By the time we actually make it out of the stall five thousand hours later, there are 4 new shiny things.


But only one that I’m interested in: SINKS.

As I basically attempt to give us both a sink bath, she’s eyeing herself in the mirror like, “How you doin’?” Joey Tribbiana head nod and all.

I’m always thankful for the hand dryers when we’re done at the sink-bath. They serve three purposes: thoroughly drying us after the splash bath we both just got and cutting out two unnecessary steps.

PAPER TOWELS and TRASH CANS. Motherofgod. Stingy on the toilet paper, but she thinks she needs 10 paper towels to dry off each hand. I think it’s the novelty of pulling each one out of the little slot. Or watching them come out of the automatic dispenser. They’re a tree/time waster in my most humble opinion.

But I mean, paper towels don’t sound so bad, right? At least it’s not as gross as licking the inside of the toilet bowl or cleaning up someone else’s pee with two squares.

Let me tell you this: they’re bad. My child, while she finds every excuse to not help us clean up our house, is totally absolutely not ok with litter anywhere else. So let’s say there are paper towels on the floor around the trash can. She must pick them up and throw them away. Or there are paper towels stuck between the lid of the trash can and the little swingy door. She must touch them to get them inside the trash can. Or the trash can doesn’t have a lid and it’s overflowing? She must use her entire arm to smash that pile DOWN. No litter, yo. No litter.

And then I get to weigh the options: back to the sink or GTFO out of this inferno of germs and give us both a hand sanitizer bath in the fresh air of Target.

When we finally emerge from the restroom two days later, my husband is all, “Oh. That was fast!” as he high-fives those little dimpled hands that just touched every square inch of the toilet and trash cans and maybe (probably) the floor around the toilet.

In my mind, I’m kicking him in the shins.

“Oh it was a piece of cake, Tim. You get the next potty break!”

Kids are gross, and I’m starting to miss diapers.

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Samantha is a native of small-town Southern Indiana who loves exploring the Circle City with her husband and their daughters, Kate (October 2011) and Isla (December 2015). After finishing a degree in Professional Writing at Purdue, Sam made her way to the greater Indianapolis area where she learned to embrace the lack of hills and abundance of interstate. After an 8-year career in business development and marketing, she’s taken a step back from the corporate world to focus on her own business – GrayGirl Designs – where she designs invitations, stationary, and business materials and offers marketing services, graphic design, and résumé writing. When she’s not trying to balance family and her business, she enjoys (in no particular order): Jazzercize, yoga, crafting, horseback riding, way too much coffee, and hiking. Sam is also a melanoma survivor and a passionate advocate of skin cancer and sun safety education and awareness.