I am something of a public restroom connoisseur. I have to be when I have a toddler that doesn't care about such things as "privacy" and "making a scene." When she's gotta go, she's gotta go. All I can do is hope to follow along and try to keep up.
The first thing I noticed about this particular bathroom was man, it's pretty nice in here. I didn't have much chance to notice anything else at that point. We were at the downtown library and the kids were, um, well they weren't being all that good. I spent most of my time there trying to not get them to wreck the place. I failed dismally.
They weren't just being bad. I mean, why label it? But if I was going to label it I would say that they were being demonic. That sounds about right. They were missing the horns of course but that's only because us mere mortals can't see the horns. Story time did not go well. I got my 2 kids to sit for about 5 seconds before they decided it would be much better to scream and yell and then run to the big stuffed cow on the other end of the floor. I did try to bring them back once or twice but then my son threatened to cut me so I let it go after that. I didn't want to ruin anyone else's time, but only my own.
After story time we went out onto the roof of the library. It has a very nice garden up there and we were planning to eat a picnic lunch with the rest of the stay at home dads that we were with. In this garden they also have little pebbles. I never thought of this before but I probably should have. I will freely admit that I was off my game a bit. As I was getting lunch ready the kids went to run and play in the garden. I thought that was great, I was getting a little worn out. When I turned back around to get them to come to lunch I saw them throwing those very pebbles off the roof into the street below. We were 5 stories up. My son has quite an arm. I fought the urge to jump off the roof myself and tried to corral the kids to come eat lunch.
What drives me more nuts than anything is when they don't listen to me. When I say "come here" I swear to god I mean "COME HERE RIGHT THE F NOW". I don't mean send me a postcard while you wreck nice cars parked below or brain some poor guy going to work. I mean get your little butts here right now.
Lunch went about the same as everything else did that day. A lot of things being thrown, some crying, me screaming for order and then they decided to stomp on a whole bag of chips. At that moment, I figured that it was time to either head home or give them to the first homeless person that I saw.
"Daddy, I have to go bathroom." Little Hoss said. When your kid says that you have got to act. Not later, not wait until we get home, right now. So I put them in the stroller to go to the bathroom before we headed home. But they didn't want to stay in the stroller so they both jumped out and ran into the bathroom with me screaming behind them.
I tell you all this because I just want you to know my mindset for the rest of the story.
Back to the beginning. I chased my kids into the bathroom and it was very nice. It even smelled good. How often does that happen? I wouldn't have to hold my kid 3 inches above the toilet seat in this one. The Porta Potties are the worst and that's what you have to do. How do you explain crotch rot on a 3 year old?
My 2 year old son likes to bang on doors in the bathrooms now when he goes potty with his big sister. Then he likes to play in the toilet water. While I was chasing him my daughter was struggling to get her pants down. Bubba Hoss made it into several of the stalls and was beginning to fill one of them up with toilet paper while I helped his sister. I tried to grab for him but he ran away and that's about when my patience finally let up. "Get over here now!" I yelled "And stay out of the damn toilet water!"
Then I heard a voice.
"Is there a man in here?" the voice asked. It was oddly feminine for a male voice I thought. Then the dawning came.
Oh dear god in heaven no. No, no, no, no, no, no,no, no. Please god no. Don't let this be what I think it is.
I started to pay attention to the bathroom more closely. There weren't just the normal 2 stalls that you see in men's bathrooms. There were at least 20. And there were no urinals. How could I not notice that at the beginning? There was no smell and there was plenty of toilet paper in each stall. There were no toilet cakes and there were no other men in this bathroom. It was the women's bathroom.
And there it was. I was in the women's bathroom.
"Um, sorry, um, my kids, um, leaving, um, sorry" was all I could mumble as I tried frantically to get the hell out of there with my kids before she started screaming for the police and getting her mace ready. My son had again run away and started banging on stall doors. I was hoping that he didn't bang on that poor women's door because I really didn't need this to get any worse. Of course he wouldn't come when I told him to so I quickly ran and grabbed him by the shirt collar and started dragging him to his sister.
"Pull your pants up!" I said. "But Daddy, I go potty!" she replied. I had no time for a debate. Guys get arrested for this type of thing and I doubted anyone would listen to my excuse, true or not. So I did the only thing I could do. I picked her up and threw her over my shoulder and ran for the exit.
If you would have been on the outside of the bathroom door this is what you would have seen. You would have seen me carrying a pantsless 3 year old crying on my shoulder while dragging a kicking and screaming 2 year old by the collar.
As a stay at home dad I do have to be very aware of my image. We try to fight the "creepy" factor every time we go to the park. Moms won't talk to me because they think it's weird for a guy to be at the park with his kids on a Tuesday. Other guys think I'm weird for staying home. And me running out of the women's bathroom with 2 screaming kids, one without pants, well, that just doesn't help. All I was missing was the camcorder and the lisp and the image would have been complete.
I ran into the men's bathroom, checked to make sure there were urinals and the fresh smell of urinal cake, and put my kids down. One went to the bathroom and one started banging on doors while I tried to decide what I would tell my wife when I got arrested. There's only two ways this could play out: 1. I can't control my children and I feed into the stereotype that fathers are bumblers when they take the kids out. 2. I'm a weirdo who takes kids from women's bathrooms while moms do their business.
I'll take option one. It's the lesser of two evils. I almost decided to spend a good 4 hours there but eventually we came out. I had carpooled with another dad and went and found him. His wife had come up for lunch as well, great.
"We gotta go. We gotta go right now." I said firmly.
"Why?" They asked.
"No questions. We GOTTA GO"
We got into the elevator and I told them what happened. The wife's first response:
"That was you?! I know that lady! She works with me!"
Of course she does.