fruit stripes + booby trapped toilets = tetanus filled fun!

I wish I could’ve had a do over of that day.

But she had to go to the bathroom.


The mini was packed to the nines. I may as well have had the kids secured to the top via rope, a-la Beverly Hillbillies while we headed back from the beach in the crowded, post Memorial Day weekend traffic.

Potty training + traveling = potentially lethal combination. Especially when it pertains to your own mental health.

We’d already stopped around four times, as Emerson and Aiden had taken turns, alternating their oh-so-urgent requests for potty breaks. Jamin and I were at our wits’ end, and we’d only been in the car for around an hour and a half, but were decidedly supportive of Emerson’s newfound potty powers, and we wanted to remain so. That, and this time she had to poo-poo.

So, for stop no. five, we scoped out a small gas station that looked as if its restrooms didn’t require a key around back for usage…or the help of a locally paid prostitute. And we pulled in.

Despite the fact that my daughter was now doing the poo-poo dance, {yes, there is such a thing, a variance of the traditional pee-pee dance with a few more special steps that involve some mad dancing skillz} there were about fifteen women lined up, waiting. “Is this the line?” I asked the obvious, as they all stared back at me with hollow, car-lagged expressions. Could they not see the small three-year-old child in front of me, wiggling and writhing her way across the tile floor? Don’t everyone generously offer to let my child go, at once, I thought to myself.

I didn’t wait for a response, and wheeled around to steer Emmy out and back to the car. The station attendant saw us in distress, and motioned that there was a port-a-potty out front. “It’s clean,” She added, as I nodded in thanks and headed outside. It looked like we may have to do the unthinkable, I thought, as I was ready to scope the digs out, and we headed toward the outdoor potty.

I reached out to open the door…

“Someone’s in there.” A lady said to me from the car where she sat, as if on stake out in front of the porto-wonder. “And they’ll probably be a while.”


I scooped Emerson up and we ran back to the swagger wagon, she was in complete misery by now. I thought she just may call it a day and go in her big gal underoos. But she hadn’t. Yet.

Jamin, without a word, headed down the road to a second station we’d seen, on the other side of the exit. When Emerson and I walked in, I knew this was the kind of place we didn’t want to stay long. Blinded by my daughter’s misery, I ignored the obvious you-don’t-really-want-to-go-here-warning-signs.

When I finally located the restroom, a small wooden door on the back with scuff marks and a dirty doorknob, complete with a sign that read: “Restroom for customers only. Key at front.”

I get it. I do. I have a complex about being rude and using people’s bathrooms, because I always feel sorry for the person who has the unfortunate task of cleaning said facilities. People can be like animals. Aiden basically needs target practice, so I can only imagine an entire slew of people and their bathroom issues after a full days’ worth of traffic…and thus the reason we don’t really wear our shoes inside, but alas, I digress. So, out of common courtesy, and one massive guilt trip, I always try to purchase something whenever we stop.

When I headed to the front, I asked the woman if we could borrow her restroom. She simply stared back at me with cold, dead, I-never-planned-on-working-here-so-kiss-my-patookie-eyes. {That’s what her shirt said, anyway.}

“If you buy something.” She replied. I glanced around, Emerson now doing an all out jazzercise move on the floor. I knew it was only mere moments before she broke into full fledged break dancing.

Fruit Stripes! I didn’t even know they still made the gum that is all, party-in-your-mouth-for-fifteen-seconds, then, just-kidding-you’re-chewing-on-old-piece-of-wet-cardboard, but I practically threw it on the counter, paid, and headed to the back.

When I finally reached for the doorknob: “There’s someone in there.” She added, from her now-power-hungry-bathroom-nazi position at the front of the store. I think I even saw a sneer. Yep. I’m calling it. Miss kiss my patookie actually sneered

You’ve got to be kidding me…I was 2.5 seconds away from going postal, chunking our gum in her face and leaving, when the bathroom door opened. Emerson, still doing the dance like it was 1989 and she was a top contender in Jump Rope for Heart, breathed a sigh of relief.

When we walked into the bathroom, the only thing that was missing was a body and that disgusting bathtub from the movie Saw. I was afraid to close the door, as the wall may open where they would torture me after they kidnapped Emerson. No, my imagination isn’t that big.  That bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in months, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’d been used to store a couple of dead bodies in the meantime. The kind of place where washing your hands will simply make you dirtier. It was that bad.

So after coating the toilet with enough paper to destroy a local rainforest, despite the risk that she just may contract tetanus-typhoid-fever with a side of lime disease, I sat her down.

A few moments passed by, and then I heard the inevitable. “Mommy. I can’t go!” I was still distracted by the fact that a gigantic roach may appear from a hidden passage, when I realized we’d had all that drama…for this: A Fruit Striped trip down memory lane with a strong possibility that we were actually sitting on a booby-trapped toilet, all out of sheer desperation.

My child picked a fine time for potty angst. Next time, I think we’ll just skip the whole thing, hand her a Pull Up, and call it a day. I’ll let her go in the car.

In her pants*

The trauma will be decidedly less to deal with. Ahh. The massive fun that is parenthood and all things rites of passage.

{*obligatory disclaimer = sarcasm.}

What are some of your traumatizing potty training moments? I’m glad to know I’m probably not alone! Spill it. 😉

This entry was posted in confessions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
Be Sociable, Share!

Responses to fruit stripes + booby trapped toilets = tetanus filled fun!

  1. Jenn says:

    and my mom thinks it’s odd that I carry a potty chair in the back of the truck… 😀 I have a 3-year-old little angel that thinks every store, restaurant or gas station sign is an advertisement to come check out their potty chairs. We leave Target after having used the potty chair and she says Mom let’s go to another store, I ask why and she says because I need to go potty and we need to look for some clothes/shoes/toys/books for me. Sigh, installing the potty chair in the back has helped out with that – it is a pain to clean it on-the-road, but it’s better than some of those creepy bathrooms!

  2. rachel hood says:

    you must, really must get a little portable potty for the mini. i have carried one for six years. the trick is line it with a couple of bags from tar jay (you know they are way sturdier that wally’s) and fill it with a couple of inches of kitty litter! you will thank me. then if you cant dispose of it immediately then the litter will neutralize some of the smell and soak up the pee so it wont slosh about in the bag. it will save you life. i have even considered using it myself many a time. also, i hear you about the fruit stripes. it totally turns into soggy rubbery paper. what is with that. i love your mommy stories. i still laugh out loud when i think of jamen strangling a pony. funny.

    • HAHAHA RACHEL + JENN. I’ve thought about it so many times. SO many times. I’m just not sure I can bring myself to do it. But I guess it is better than the whole people are going to abduct me after I contract some nasto disease gross factor. I just may be able to handle the kitty litter in a bag idea. that makes it manageable? ew.

    • Sigg says:

      Omg. That is GENIUS, if only a little yucky. . .

      • Sarah says:

        I agree…the portable potty is the way to go!! I received one for my daughter from a mom of 3 older girls, and it has saved us sooo many times! Mine comes with disposable bag/liners. Great story though…I can totally relate! :)

  3. Collette says:

    Oh Ashley! my kids looked at me like I was crazy when I guffawed out loud (is there any other way?) reading your latest potty-drama post. they couldn’t figure out why I was laughing, when clearly there were no funky animated cats dancing on the screen, just a slew of words, and your sweet photos on the sidebar. you give me rib-aches with your candor. good luck!

  4. oh, i just laughed out loud! awesome.

  5. wendy says:

    A few years back when my daughter was toilet-training, we took a 5-hour drive to go visit my sister. Well, half-way there, my daughter decided she needed to pee. The rest of the drive consisted of stopping at every single rest stop (and even the side of the road a few times) so that we could get out of the car, walk to the bathroom (or pull down her pants), and then she’d tell me “I can’t pee here, mama.”
    The amazing (to me) thing was that she actually made it all the way to my sister’s house without peeing her pants!

  6. jaime scott says:

    just a suggestion, but get a toddler potty and keep it in the car. then you can pull over anywhere and let your child use the bathroom. it has been a lifesaver for us many many times!!

  7. Amy says:

    Why I’m so glad you asked! I can vent. I attempted 3 day potty training with my daughter last week. My husband is coming home from a 7.5 mo. deployment in Afg in July so I figured I’d knock it out before he came home. We chunked our diapers and bought 30 pairs of Mickey Mouse panties + a princess potty. We were ready. Or, not. 3 hours and 15 pairs of panties later, I thought, “Maybe I need help.” We pressed on. Day one concluded with 55-60 accidents- no joke! Next morning at 6:30am I dug a forgotten diaper out of the trunk of my car and headed to Walmart to get diapers and my sanity back. My advice? It takes two!!

  8. Paula Chaffin says:

    You know, you can’t make this stuff up!! I used to live it out like this. Now it’s a little different with two grown boys, one married, one in law school. Our entertainment is our 18 year old daughter who will enter her Sr. year in high school. She keeps us hopping and laughing’.
    Keep your stories coming, they make me laugh out loud!

  9. haha thanks guys. glad to know we’re not alone! 😉

  10. Beth Miller says:

    Oh my goodness! Laughing out loud! I love your stories…they give me hope that I can get through the toddler years! Today has been one of those days where I have to repeat “I really do love my child, I really do love my child” in order to keep my sanity. I needed that laugh so badly!

  11. Shelley says:

    I laughed so hard I cried, and almost peed my pants! I can SO relate. My 2 year old has given me so many laughs and stress headaches on the road to potty training. My fav so far has been her running into the living room with her butt cheeks clenched yelling, “Izzy’s toots are coming out!!!” Ahhhhahaha… still makes me laugh 😀

    Hang in there, it will get better!

  12. Sigg says:

    LOL! Thank you for that!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Oh my goodness! Your story had me laughing so hard! Poor thing! I probably would have killed the bathroom nazi. Or had my child poop on the floor, since they didn’t seem to care either way. HA!

  14. Tote says:

    This post was so funny! I laughed out loud. First of all I, myself hate to use public rest rooms, and I think I have passed that on to my daughter. I do like the idea of a potty in the car with kitty litter, that is an awesome idea!


  15. Carrie Cauthen says:

    oh Ashley…I feel ya’. G is in the same boat but I’ve given up looking for potties. Coming back from Tenn the other day we just started stopping on the side of the interstate. My child is weird though-she would rather “tee-tee in the grass” than the potty. Well, that I and put her in a pull-up just in case there was a state trooper lurking about waiting to give a ticket. :)

  16. Christy says:

    That was hilarious, I had tears. Been there! Driving home from a snow trip in Northern AZ, long a long desolate hwy, my 3 yo had to #2. I was more proud than terrified at the time b/c he actually advsied us he had to go rather than jsut doing it. Not wanting to set back his potty training we asked if he could hold it, nope (d’uh!). Not that it really mattered as there was no place to stop for quite a while any way. I had to pullover & let him do his biz au naturel. He didn’t know what to do as there was no thrown to sit upon. It was quite the ordeal.

  17. Avivi says:

    Well…we were a bit past potty training when this happened…but I have one child who was always going. She used to even name them…as in the time you go before you leave the house is the “Farewell Potty.” So, one trip she kept asking to go (didn’t know we were on the front end of a stomach bug at the time). The only place to stop on this very rural road was an old gas station/bait and tackle combo store. Well…we RAN to to bathroom – only to find lots of company – in the form of CRICKETS. I mean it was like a science fiction movie – me with the child on the toilet trying to bat said insects off of her – they are chirping and jumping all over us and if you moved you crunched them. Every time I hear these cicadas at night I have a flashback.

  18. Amber says:

    I don’t know if anyone else suggested this but at Babies r us they have a portable Potty. The legs fold down and you put bags in it so when they’re done you just throw it away. It fits in a small bag that fits on my purse too. Best mom gadget ever. It’s always in my car!

  19. traci says:

    i don’t have children… so i can’t totally relate per se… but i loved this post! you are such a great writer and i felt like i was right there doin the potty-dance with you!! memories like this last a life time! 😀

  20. Shaunna says:

    Just catching up on your blawg after Disney….this is HI-LAR-I-OUS. And after just traveling 8 hours in the car with mine, I absolutely relate. So funny, friend.

  21. I have many stories of my three while they were growing up, but this one takes the cake. I laughed so hard while reading this post (i was at my desk at work); just too humerous.

  22. Kristi says:

    This story. This story right here is why we carry a portable potty in the car. We have a box right next to it with paper towels, wipes, LARGE ziploc bags and clorox wipes. Little person does their business, they get a wipe to wipe and another to “wash” their hands. Refuse goes in the zip loc bag. Hopefully, we’ve at least stopped the car by now (although there was a delicate balancing act on a bridge one time) and we pour any liquids out of the car. Anything else gets put in the zip loc, potty gets wiped out with the paper towels and then the potty gets a Clorox wipe (orange scented- mmmmm) . Again, towels and wipes in the ziploc bag which gets zipped closed and waits for the next real stop to be thrown away. I’ve got a 6,4 and 3 year old. Last person to use the potty was ME when we were on an overnight trip and I was the only grown up. No way was I leaving my kiddos or waking them up- I think we were in the same rest stop you pulled into.

  23. Tricette says:

    Fruit Stripes gum!! I bet you found it right next to the Jem dolls 😉

  24. leann says:

    This is probably a strange comment but I had a similar experience recently on the other side of an issue and I felt compelled to share since not everyone has had these experiences or understands the difficulty.

    I have severe IBS and was in line at a rest stop on a 5 1/2 hour drive feeling very ill. A woman came in with a child doing the pee/poo dance and said they were potty training and asked everyone in line if she could cut and everyone obliged. I was put in a really awkward position of having to say “No, I’m sorry I feel incredibly ill right now, I apologize I really really do, so sorry” and I STILL received angry looks from everyone and overheard whispers of “She’s a CHILD!” and I just have to say, as a Mom, that you never know someone else’s situation and in general if my kid had an accident, that sucks for me and for them, but the psychological ramifications are probably a lot worse for an adult having an accident in public to deal with. I hide my pain and distress very well so I’m sure they didn’t believe me. I’m not at all implying that you asked anyone in the line or did this or don’t know the things that I just mentioned, I just felt compelled for other tummy problem sufferers to say something when it made me think of it.