You’d think preschool children who hung out with each other a lot would synchronise their toilet-trips in much the same manner women synchronise menstral cycles. But, no.
Just the other day, I ventured to the science museum with five children, all under the age of six. And look, before you say anything, I thought it was a good idea. I truly did. And really, it mostly did turn out to be a good idea except, well…
It’s just that when you’re on your own with that many children under six for over two hours, you pretty much can count on doing at least one toilet trip per child. And because you have to take everyone with you each time, you spend another big chunk of time persuading the non-toilet-needing children why it’s a good thing to leave the fun museum stuff and do yet another tour of the toilet facilities.
It’s therefore fair to say you’re going to spend at least half of your allotted time either in – or traveling to or from – the toilet.
Luckily for me, this particular museum had “family facilities” which are multi-gendered places with plenty of wide spaces for prams, water-play and tantrums.
Would that it were so in all public venues. Now that Mr Justice is seven and more prone to catching “girls’ germs”, he refuses point blank to go into the women’s toilets. And legally, I’m not sure of his status in there anyway. So I often find myself wedging the female toilet door open so that I may observe the toileting activities of The Pixie and still keep an eye on Mr Justice outside, while Tiddles McGee merrily runs back and forth between the two.
Happier still are those times I’ve had to lurk right outside the men’s toilets shouting out “Are you okay?” every five seconds, whilst explaining to other toilet patrons and passersby that “My son’s in there!” and “I don’t normally make a habit of this. No, really.”
Is it little wonder I prefer to use the disabled toilets when out and about on my own with the kids? Of course, I do it with a heavy conscience and only after scouting out for people who look like they might need it more than us first. I remember someone once said to me “Why shouldn’t disabled people have to wait for the toilet like the rest of us?” causing me to mutter something along the lines of “Um, because the rest of us are having a much easier time of things, really” and terminate my friendship with said person on the spot.
Anyway, back at the museum, we’d just done toilet trip #4 and were back looking at actual exhibits (as opposed to tap fittings), when Master J made a surprise announcement.
“Uh, [NDM]?” he said, oh-so-casually. “I’ve just done poo in my pants.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised – after all, this is the child from past posts such as “Poo-tential” and “All The World’s A Toilet” – but I was surprised. Mostly because toilet stop #4 had actually been for Master J.
“How did this happen???” I asked Master J, as I rounded up everyone for the fifth time.
“My bottom opened up and I pushed the poo through,” was his measured response – which admittedly answered my question, albeit in a way that made me want to plunge my mind in bleach.
As we trekked back to the toilet (some of us more comfortably than others), I felt a wave of despair wash over me. Not only did I have to deal with the Unknown Horror in Master J’s pants, but the fact I had no spare clothes meant I’d have to bring the museum trip to an untimely end and find some way of getting the disappointed five-under-six safely out to the car against their will.
Luckily for us all, it ended up being the smallest amount. I quickly scrubbed the undies and hung them on the pram handle to dry (I’m both resourceful and classy) and Master J happily went commando for the rest of what turned out to be a pleasant afternoon. Disaster averted.
That night, when I recounted my toilet adventures to my husband over a glass (or three) of Recovery Wine, he said “I know you’re like some kind of Super Mum, but next time you find yourself in charge of five-under-six, maybe it’d be best to stay at home”.
Shee-itt, I ain’t no Super Mum, I thought to myself. Not even close.
But let me tell you all now: if I were, I’d definitely be one of those really smart superheroes that has a sidekick to delegate all those toilet trips to. That’s. For. Sure.