Every mother has their weak spot. Something about living with and caring for small children that makes them certifiable, out of all proportion to the offence.
This is mine: pee. The waft of gently warmed underwear dribble. The need to find and queue for and visit public toilets, everywhere, every flipping day. I would burn every public toilet in a fire, if I could, and cackle and dance while I did it. Put me behind a trolley outside a toilet door, flicking attention between my groceries, and T, rioting in the trolley seat, and H, jiggling frantically with the classic four-year-old distress signal (‘I nee-ee-ee-d a wee-ee-ee-ee!’), and that red ‘Occupied’ square on the door lock, REFUSING TO MOVE because the person inside is having the slowest poo ever, and, well. I could happily flay something. And then you have to go in, and everything is disgusting, and all of it is within toddler reach, and it’s like it was designed to be a special kind of hell.
We do that several times a week. Oh gosh, I am getting furious just thinking about it.
In the wild it’s fine, of course. H is brilliant at just getting on with it. Off he pops into the ferns, often without telling me, and I just get the hand sanitiser ready for his return. But you can’t be in the wild all the time. And indoors, H’s bladder is a ninja. It has a finely tuned, impeccable sense of when would be the least helpful time to explode, and dances around until precisely that moment.
Dear reader, imagine yourself in the following real-life scenarios, and then imagine ‘I nee-ee-ee-d a wee-ee-ee-ee!’ spiraling up into the air like a bomb siren during the Blitz. Or imagine it’s not wee, but worse. SO MUCH WORSE. Are you panic-breathing yet?
- (the classic): in the supermarket, when we have put just too many items in the trolley to abandon the endeavour for a loo break, but still have too many things on the list for him to cross his legs till we’re done.
- at the park. Once he announces it I have about thirty seconds to hoist T under my arm like a parcel, grab H’s hand, locate the nearest dog waste bin to position ourselves behind and sprint there. It’s like an episode of Challenge Anneka, with more weeping.
- just pulling into a space in the overcrowded, very stressful hospital car park. There are only eight minutes to go till my appointment and I still don’t know how to get there, let alone where the loos are.
- while stuck up a tree. He has just this second climbed a little too high for me to get him without climbing up myself.
- halfway home from nursery (EVERY DAY. We watered that bush EVERY DAY).
- waiting for Daddy in the car at the airport. We can’t leave the car because T has chicken pox. I find a penguin he’s made at nursery from plastic bottles and felt, and dispense with the felt.
- while driving to the garage to pick up the car. The garage will close in ten minutes. We are in stop-start traffic.
- thirty-four seconds after we have already stopped very dangerously and suddenly on the motorway hard shoulder, because T reached forward and opened his door.
- three separate times in the shower block of our camping ground, when I’m trying to get both boys through the shower myself. T is afraid of showers, and is making it known. The toilets are in a separate cubicle. Everything is hell.
Can we just go back to nappies?