Saturday, June 21, 2008

The "Big Girl" Stage

Friday night I took Tayler on a Father-daughter date to Lagoon.

Right after we road the Tidal Wave, I had to go to the bathroom. But I decided to wait instead. Tayler and I are in the last stage of the father-daughter-post-potty-training development process--the "Big Girl" stage. We have been here now for two years. This stage first begins when you finally realize you are uncomfortable taking her with you into a public men's restroom. Not that you ever felt good about it. It should always feel uncomfortable to drag your sweet, innocent princess into a sticky-floored room where grown men miss a urinal from point blank range, or fill the stall toilet and don't bother to flush, or make a huge mess in, on, and around the pot with no obligation to clean it up....

Somewhere along the line you feel she truly doesn't belong there anymore. Recognize the symptoms early.
She may:
1) start sight-seeing,
2) begin asking tough questions, e.g. "Why do you have those kind of potties?"
3) occasionally say strange things, e.g. You take her into a crowded mens room, help her find the cleanest stall, wipe it down if necessary (be careful not to gag or dry-heave in front of her), cover the seat with a disposable protector or create a make-shift one out of TP squares, make sure there is enough TP, show her how to lock the door, and go stand over by the sink to wait. After all that, she feels the need to loudly remind you, "Daddy, don't look". Good thing you taught her the importance of privacy. Everyone in the urinal line now thinks you might be a little creepy.
4) Or you may notice men who seem a little uncomfortable (stage fright perhaps) the minute you and her walk in.
These are all signs you have entered the "Big Girl" stage.

In public places this stage can be challenging. Several possible scenarios exist and none of them are particularly comfortable.

Scenario 1: You have to go to the bathroom, but she doesn't.

If you are by yourself with your four or five year old daughter, you're in a tough spot.
If you're in a strange, crowded place, you have to hold it. You really can't go in and leave her outside waiting for you. Alone.
My advice during this stage is that you try to limit your exposure to these situations. Don't go alone with her to public places. If you do, make sure you both "go before you go". Don't drink an excess of fluids...And never go alone with her to a 3 1/2 hour football game.

Scenario 2: You both have to go to the bathroom.

First question you ask yourself, "Number 1 or Number 2?"

Number 2. No way. You are S-O-L. You can't risk her finishing before you. She may panic when you aren't where she left you. Plus, you don't want her outside alone in a strange public place.

Number 1. You should have time. After all, it's way faster for you.
No long lines.
Quick rinse (always using antibacterial soap of course).
Dry your hands using your pant legs.
You could be out in 30-45 seconds.

Solution: Send her into the women's room, race in, do your business, quick rinse (with soap of course), pant-dry your hands, and be outside waiting for her (with the "you are such a big girl" look on your face) when she saunters out.

Scenario 3: Only she has to go (best case scenario).
You still may feel anxious sending her into the women's room by herself.
Try to relax. After all, you are right outside. Plus, the rumors are that it's way different in there.
It probably even smells nice.
They don't "miss", so the floors might be clean.
They probably all flush.
And some nice elderly lady may even help her reach the sink.

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