My most embarrassing Christmas moment didn’t happen on Christmas day, but the day after.
Picture this scene: crowded mall, full of after Christmas shoppers. Into this mix add two twelve year-olds (my son and his friend) and four year-old (my daughter). My wife–hereinafter referred to as “Mama”–has gone to Macy’s to make use of my gift to her. So I have charge of the kids, and things are going reasonably well–until.
Until my daughter says “Daddy, I need to go pee-pee.”
“Let’s wait for mama, ok sweetie?” I ask
“No, I need to go now, or I’m gonna pee my undies.” Since we can’t have that, I say “Ok, let’s go. I’ll take you potty. Boys, you wait right here until we get back.” (Now, I’ve written before about my experiences taking my daughter to the restroom when we’re out in public; you can read A Dad’s Dangerous Doodies if so inclined).
So off we go to Macy’s, up the escalator, past the intimates (why are the bras always seemingly near the bathrooms?), to the lavatory (little girl noticeably “holding it” all the way). This time, she doesn’t ask to go in the ladies room–at least she seems to finally understand that dad can’t go in there. We finally breach the doors, and find all three stalls occupied.
“Honey, we have to wait,” I tell her. “All the potties are being used.”
“But I gotta go really bad.”
“I know. Just hold on a little longer, please, ok?”
“Ok, daddy.” Fortunately, just then a stall door opened. And in we walked to what could only be described as a detention-level garbage masher–because we sure discovered an incredible smell! Despite an empty bowl, I gave it a courtesy flush anyway. Too bad it didn’t actually suck the lingering vapors down with the water!
“Daddy! I gotta go now!”
“Ok, honey. Let daddy put the papers down.” (I don’t know about you, but I always put down an insulating layer of toilet paper before I put the seat covers on. I’m weird that way. Drives my daughter nuts). So I get “the throne” all feng shui-ed, help her get her jeans and panties down, and sit her down on the commode. Because she’s on a new privacy kick, she says “Daddy, turn around.” I do, intending to do a quick check of my email. The next thing I hear is “You’re getting bigger.” In her sweet, innocent four year-old mind, this was an entirely appropriate remark to make regarding the looseness of my jeans, but in that moment, had you been in that bathroom, what would you have thought? (If I had been able to pull a Tim-Allen-in-The-Santa-Clause, I would have made a beeline for the Zurn drain and disappeared down it). I thought two things for sure: someone had overheard (yes, there were others going about their business), and that they were going to turn me in to security.
So, through clenched teeth, I hissed the two words we tell our kids never to use: “Shut up!” She looked at me with saucer-large eyes–like I said a swear, or something. Then she said “Turn around. I’m not done.” So I did, thinking surely someone is right now on their way for me.
I ask “Are you done?”
“Nope, I gotta wipe my private.”
“Ok.” From facing the inside of the stall door, I turn back around, and find her on her knees, pants around her thighs, trying to get at the toilet paper. I haul her up, pull up her pants, tuck her shirt in, zip and button, and open the stall door. Blessedly, the coast is clear. Fortunately, there is a sink low enough (probably for the disabled) for her to use–’cause she likes to wash her own hands. I wash mine, help her finish washing hers, we towel dry, and leave. There is no SWAT team waiting for me. We run into mama there on the second floor at Macy’s, and I say to her “You’re not gonna believe what just happened.”
Of the things I’ve learned in life, I’ll leave you with this: like Stephen King says, “reality is Ralph,” or you just can’t make this stuff up. Kids do, and continue to, say the darnedest things! Hopefully, I’m around to catch them all, because–despite the myocardial infarction–I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Thank-you for reading!
PS The highlight of this day was the fact that the two boys actually did as asked, and stayed in the center court area.