There we were in this beautiful place.
Before the boy spoke the dreaded words, we were examining the latest development the ocean had churned up for us. It is something so intricate it looks manmade, and therefore has a manmade name: The blue button jellyfish. I’d never seen one before, and from a distance thought it was a piece of trash.
Anyway, we were wondering around the beach when the boy spoke the dreaded words:
“I have to go poop.”
Urinating at the beach is so wonderfully convenient. The ocean doesn’t mind. She is too busy churning up red-flag warning waves and currents to worry about a little urine insult. Poop, on the other hand, is very inconvenient.
We made our way to the public restrooms, which felt something like walking across the desert with the mid-day sun beaming down on that long stretch of sand between ocean and civilization. And all the longer dragging along a tot that got distracted every ten feet. Onto the weather beaten deck, to the faux cocina walls of the men’s room.
“You go on in, I’ll wait here,” I said, “I didn’t bring my shoes.” The boy hesitantly moved forward, into the wide open door, and located a stall within sight. The tot scampered about the deck, dancing to her own music.
“Do I need to flush?” The boy called out, as a preliminary.
“Lift me! Lift me!” The tot squealed with joy as she spotted a water fountain. I propped her up on my thigh as she proceeded to dribble water all down her chest, down the side of the machine, down her arm, down everywhere but its intended destination.
Indistinct words from the boy floated over to me.
Repeat times five; finally a translation was made: “What if I can’t get all the poop off my butt?”
“Just do your best,” I said in a hurried fashion, craning my neck around to see that he was still standing behind the stall door, making no progress. I looked around me—the coast was still clear. Apparently no other men in the vicinity needed to relieve themselves.
“Why did that light flicker?” The boy shouted.
“Poop, child, just poop.”
Having managed to drink about a teaspoon full of water, and soaking herself with about a gallon, the tot was satisfied to continue her dance about the deck. She kindly offered to assist me by holding our beach hats, and promptly arranged them in a row on the deck. “Which one do you want, mama? Big, big, or big?” She looked up at me with that patronizing smile. It wasn’t really a question, it was a toddler demand. It meant: You will take a hat.
“I want mine,” I said, wondering how many poop particles and urine splashes my hat was collecting there on the floor of the bathroom entrance.
Her eyebrows furrowed. “Big, big, or big?”
She handed me a hat with great satisfaction; one that wasn’t mine. You have to pick your battles, I thought. Dealing with the pooping boy was enough for the time being.
“It’s diarrhea poop!” The boy shouted toward me, not going to make the mistake of needing to repeat his statement five times again.
I looked back toward the stall, and could see that the boy had taken off his shoes and pants, piled them haphazardly all over the floor, and had either disappeared within the stall, or was squatting over the toilet. I imagined the later, with hands touching all kinds of disgusting surfaces. Oh, the germs. The shoes and trunks were now vectors of multiple intestinal viruses. I shook my head. Five minutes passed.
“How’s it going?” I called out, glad to see signs of legs again…standing barefoot on the floor. How do germophobes survive parenthood?
“I got poop on my leg!” It was really not an exclamation of distress, it was just a loud announcement.
“Just wipe it off.”
How long have you had poop on your leg for?! “Just wipe it and hurry up!” I said instead.
“There’s poop on my trunks!”
Lord help us. “Just do the best you can.”
There was a shuffling sound for about two more minutes, and then the glorious sound of the stall opening. The boy started walking toward me.
“Wash your hands!” I held up my own as the international body language for ‘stop’, or more accurately, like I thought the poop germs were coming like a swarm of bees toward me. The boy headed for the sink.
“I can’t reach the soap!”
“Climb up there!” I have seen the child scale any manner of complicated playground equipment, and yet he is helpless at a public bathroom sink.
I looked at the ground, and my cleanly feet. To have feet carrying poop germs and possibly athlete’s foot, or little boy hands covered in germs that will then go into his mouth infecting himself, and eventually the whole family…
“Alright, I’m coming,” I gingerly tiptoed across the disgusting, wet, grainy, diseased floor.
But, all that drama aside, we did find this little collection of sea glass odds and ends, and likely enhanced our microbiomes. Overall, a successful trip.