Scuzzy public washrooms stimulate curiosity in a child’s sensory receptors more than anything I’ve ever seen. Buy them a new toy for Christmas and they stare at the box. Walk them into the toilet room at the back of a corner gas station and their little fingers flutter with anticipation at all the bacteria infested surfaces. A true Montessori classroom would be outfitted with a dirty washroom stall right in their central activity area.
We are not in an educational setting, Millie and I. We are on another long journey home, where seconds feel like hours waiting for Millie to pee. She starts caressing the grey tampon box next to the toilet and asks, “What’s this for?” Like an idiot, I give her the pat answer, “It’s for women’s pads.”
She leans in, “You mean like elbow pads?”
“No, it’s for bum pads, which is why we don’t want to touch it.”
“Why do women wear bum pads? In case they fall down?”
A few more silent hours go by. I try to telepathically make her go pee. Millie breaks the silence with, “WHY DO YOU THINK GOD GAVE ME SUCH A LOUD VOICE?” God doesn’t always give answers.
“Millie, stop touching the wall.” Even more dramatic feeling of the stippled stall wall ensues.
Suddenly (as if the water stained ceiling tiles parted and angels descended from heaven) and with Millie’s bare bottom squarely on the toilet seat: the automatic flush. Terror stole her facial expression momentarily, leaving her uncannily silent. The storm, caused by the transcendent flush, raged on beneath her.
This just became the one and only worthwhile child washroom experience. As soon as the torrent of water stopped, I heard the tinkle. Thank you, God.