This week’s blog post is a little different: A true story I had to share.
I Need to Go Potty
The automatic doors parted and I was hit with a blast of artificially cooled air. Thirty… no, fifty faces stared back at me with astonished curiosity. Each face was waiting to be beyond my gaze so that it could react, relax, and move on from this discomforting moment. The bodies standing directly in my way parted slowly and silently, awaiting some sign of my mood. Was it rage? Was it embarrassment? Was I going to laugh? Then, a voice interrupted the long silence.
“You got me all wet!” my daughter howled through tears, pointing an accusing finger. I kept my gaze straight ahead, on an imagined horizon. Without breaking my stride, I set my daughter down on a porcelain white floor, and continued my march to the sound of my feet squishing in my wet shoes.
Twenty minutes earlier, I was completely dry. The late afternoon Florida sun baked the pavement as we approached “The Living Seas,” Disney’s presentation of the world that existed mere miles beyond its tall, yet imperceptible walls. In one of those strange moments of numerical superiority, the adults outnumbered the children, four to three. “Look! There’s no line!” someone from our party uttered in amazement. A joy washed over the group that made everyone forget that the only thing higher than the 92 degree temperature, was the humidity.
A sweet, tiny voice piped into my ear. “Daddy, I have to go potty.” My twenty-something pound, two and a half year-old daughter brushed a wisp of wavy hair away from her face. Perched on my left forearm, she was a marvel of toddlerhood, learning to use the bathroom in a mere four weeks of preschool. My wife and I almost didn’t notice her progress, until she was refusing to wear a diaper. I answered her, with a question that revealed that I had learned absolutely nothing from being the father of two small children.
“Do you think you can hold it until after the Finding Nemo ride?”
Let’s break that question down into its important elements:
Me, the parent of a five year-old and two year-old, asked the younger a question regarding a bodily function, whose answer would determine the final resting place of a bodily fluid.
My daughter, contemplated the question. Using nearly five weeks of experience as a non-diaper-wearing human, considered the facts. Can I hold it until after the Finding Nemo ride? Why not? Is there even a limit to how long I can hold my bladder? Surely, my father would know better than I. How long is a ride? Are there restrooms during the ride, in case I’ve miscalculated my new found ability to control myself? What happens if I pee my pants? Did you say “Nemo?”
“Yes, Daddy. I can hold it.”
I can’t say I wasn’t nervous on that ride, my daughter sitting squarely in my lap. I asked if she wanted to sit next to me, but no, she liked my lap. If we left a puddle on the seat, would we have the opportunity to alert a ride operator before someone sat in it? How long would pee take to dry from my shorts? These are questions we never had to answer.
The ride ended, and the only ones who got wet were Nemo and his friends. But rides don’t just end in the happiest place on earth. Next, we found ourselves deposited into an interactive play area. The only way out was through the gift shop. But that didn’t matter, the kids were already dancing on a floor in which their shadows changed the music. At a Disney theme park the outside world doesn’t exist, so I’m pretty sure no one heard thunder in the distance.
“I peed my pants.”
Technically, my daughter was correct. She could hold it until after the Nemo ride. What she didn’t count on was the playground beyond. We were all caught in the moment. Fortunately, my wife carried a change of clothes for everyone in the family except for me. She handed me a fresh set of underwear. We left through the gift shop, along with my old college roommate who was going to go across the park to see if he could move our dinner reservation up to an earlier time. “See you in a few minutes,” I said with naive optimism.
The restroom was in the same building, but nearly 200 yards away, reachable only by going outside. 200 yards isn’t far. We dash around the building to the empty restroom where we swap out her dry underwear. If I’m ever caught with a little girl’s panties in my pocket, there is a reasonable explanation.
I ask her, “Do you need to pee more before we leave?”
“Are you sure?”
We reach the door of the restroom and are greeted by a monsoon. Where we once walked is now a river. I text my wife, “Stuck at the restroom.” She was fine with the rest of our party in the magical playground.
The next words I heard were, “Daddy, I peed my pants… again!”
I’m incredulous. It had been less than two minutes since I’d asked her if she needed to pee more. Luckily, we still had shorts. She will go “commando” for the remainder of the day. But we’re still stuck and she’s itching to get back to the fun. We have no umbrella, but we do have a towel. I pick my girl up, put the towel over our heads and we’re going to go for it!
I dash out into the storm. We get maybe 20 feet and I’m already drenched through. My daughter is screaming. And I do the wrong thing. I turned around. We returned to the restroom, where a lonely janitor is staring at me expressionless. We are both completely drenched, but we haven’t moved. A text arrives from my friend, who is stuck at the restaurant. It was this photo:
Here’s my internal dialogue as I watch it rain harder and harder: I’m already wet. Beer. It isn’t that far. Beer. The rain may not stop for a while. Beer.
We strike out again. No turning back. We were already wet, but I learned that yes, we could get wetter. To read the faces as we entered the gift shop, you’d think we had emerged from a terrible battle, covered in blood. Give this man some space.
My daughter was angry with me, learning that I did not have the magical power to keep her dry during a downpour. Ultimately, she came out ahead in the deal, with a new Minnie Mouse dress from the gift shop. Did I mention we had a change of clothes for everyone but me? Wet or dry, I was getting to the beer.
We had two umbrellas and 6 people to ferry across the park. Grabbing a kid I ran with the first group a quarter mile to the restaurant. Then, I ran back to our starting point with the extra umbrella and escorted the remaining group to dinner. Two round trips, four traverses.
During dinner I took my daughter to the restroom six times.
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