That Time I Faced Down a Port-a-Potty…and Lost. #MomLife

We all have a Port a Potty story. That time at an outdoor concert or when you drank too much coffee at the parade. Port -a-Potties are disgusting but an unfortunate reality that probably beats dropping trou on the side of the road. Probably.

Before I had kids, I had a five-step Porta Potty system:

  1. Take a deep breath, enter Ambulatory Poop Station,
  2. Go immediately for the toilet paper and cover mouth and nose with a gigundous wad,
  3. Breath through wad,
  4. Do business while hovering and touching absolutely nothing,
  5. Take one last breath, wipe, toss, and bolt out into the fresh air, gulping like you’ve just completed a triathlon.

This system kept me heave-free for several decades before I became a mother and the fumes hit the fan. Actually, I wish there was a fan. That might help. There is no efficient, nasal-friendly process for taking a young child into a Porta Potty. They don’t know how to hurry, and you need both your hands to help them on and off the seat without them falling to their doom inside Poop Canyon.

The other day at an away swim meet, my five-year-old daughter had to go to the bathroom right before her race. The regular septic system restrooms were blocked off to keep the lawn from going all Meet the Parents on everybody, and the helpful volunteers directed me downwind to a cozy row of Porta Potties.

I began to panic a little, realizing I needed to haul Little Miss all the way over to the potties, peel off her wet swimsuit, and finagle the whole situation in time for her to butterfly her little body down lane five.

I walk-dragged her to our destination and approached the door, hissing to her, “Don’t. Touch. Anything.” We stepped into the box and she immediately grabbed the rim of the urinal, glistening with wet pee. I remained calm and figured we could just chop that hand off later.

Working her clingy suit down to her knees, I helped her on the toilet, where she jiggled her legs and made the swimsuit slide off her feet and land with a defeated plop into the puddle of urine on the floor. I may have blacked out for a minute.

We shared that awkward eye contact moment of going to the bathroom in close quarters. You know the one. When your kid stares deeply into your eyes and concentrates all her energy on pushing the prairie dog out of the hole. You want to look away, but you want to show support, but you really want to look away.

Of course she needed to poop in the middle of a swim meet. She only poops when we’re out. We’ve enjoyed long moments gazing at each other in every public bathroom in the tri-county area.

She released the bomb into the toilet, and at that point things happened in slow motion. I heard the turd hit the cesspool below and reached for her, grabbing her under the arms and starting to lift her to safety. But I was too slow. The sludge ricocheted up out of the bowl, splattering her back and I’m sure the entire swim meet could hear me screaming, “Noooooooooo!!!!”

I heard them call her event. We did not have time to waste on inconsequential things like other people’s fecal matter on my precious pumpkin’s back. Yanking her wet suit back up her body, I pulled her out into the warm summer night and prayed against E. Coli. I got her to the starting blocks and while she was lining up, I used half a bottle of Purell on my hands.

She butterflied her way down the lane and emerged on the other side of the pool, no longer a poopy caterpillar.   I scooped her up and squealed over her success, hoping that any remnants from the incident had washed off in the chlorine. What. Any team that makes guests experience those conditions deserves a little poo juice in its pool.

After that night, I’ve reassessed my Porta Potty system. These are my new five steps:

  1. Hiss at child not to touch anything,
  2. Watch as child trips and lands with face in urinal,
  3. Take in huge amounts of noxious air as you gasp in horror,
  4. Burst outside and stop, drop, and roll in the grass, screaming, “Is it on me?!?”
  5. Beg child to just pee their pants next time.
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Melanie Dale
Melanie Dale has been mom dating since 2007 and blogging since 2009. She graduated from Denison University with a BFA in Theatre, working in theatres in Washington, D.C. until she moved to the Atlanta area. She’s a lover of Jesus, her husband Alex, and all her kids. When she isn’t driving a minivan, she blogs about motherhood, orphan care, and adoption at Melanie is also the author of the new book Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends.