TKT’s Adventures in Fatherhood – Episode 219

This morning Laura had an appointment to get her haircut.  Since her appointment was at 9am and I had a hankerin’ for a delicious breakfast burrito  (with BACON) at Sonic, I decided the best thing to do would be to grab the kids and hit the road.  The boys were excited enough and I thought: Yes.  Let’s have a Boy’s Morning.  Just the Troupe boys, y’all.

I won’t bore you with how tasty my breakfast was, just know that it was pretty much delicious.  Even the sub-par orange juice they serve at Sonic couldn’t ruin it.  Yes, my friends, it seemed my Saturday was off to a rollicking start.  As we left the Sonic Drive Thru, we decided to stop at Target to kill some time.  Amazingly, both boys were down with that idea.

Side note: In all fairness, Jake’s favorite word these days is “Yeah.”

Me: Jake do you want to have some milk?

Jake: Yeah.

Me: Want a garbage sandwich for lunch with a side of rotten cheese?

Jake: Yeah.

You see what I mean.

Anyway, we’re rolling through Target and looking at the values displayed for the world to see.  I had to, on several occasions, tell Travis that “No, we don’t need to get a dinosaur that squirts water of out his eyes.  We HAVE dinosaurs at our house.”

“Not the eye-squirting kind,” he responded.

Well played, Son.

Jake was mostly well-behaved too, which I’m thankful for.  His only vices whilst at stores these days is grabbing stuff off of the shelves and trying to stand up in the cart.  No flimsy shopping cart seat belt can contain this kid.  If he wants to stand up…he stands up.

Anyway, we only had a few things we found that were worth getting and we made our way to the lines.  As we reach the front of the line, Travis announces:

“Dad, I have to go to the bathroom.”

There’s the moment of pause when I think: We could totally make it home.  We’re only like 10 minutes away.  If we hurry and I drive like I do the ambulance, we’re golden.  Besides…we’re at the FRONT of the line…

Then I remember that Travis is 5 1/2 years old and still hasn’t mastered the Iron Bladder skills of his father. (me)

I turn and realize I’m boxed in.  I nod to the lady standing behind me and beg her forgiveness.  I explain that we’re having a bathroom red alert.  She nods as if she knows what I’m talking about and backs her cart, laden with fairly priced merchandise,  to let us out.  After a quick word of thanks, we’re tearing down the main aisle.  For some reason, the Target that we were at decided it was wise to keep the restroom in the far corner of the store, tucked into a hidden little alcove near the condoms in the pharmacy.  You know, not in front of the store where the rest of the nation’s Targets do.

We’re burning a trail for the commode and Travis is marveling at how fast we’re going.  Earlier he’d asked me to push the cart faster and I told him we shouldn’t.  “People could get hurt,” I said.

My kid doesn’t miss a trick.

“Dad, how come you’re going fast now?”

“Because I don’t want you to soak your shorts, dude,” I reply.

“But what about if we hit someone?”

“Keep it down, son,” I said as we reached our turn.

As we rolled to the hidden toilet, I exhaled deeply.  There, parked in front of the “Family Restroom,” was an abandoned cart with some Mr. Clean products and a box of trash bags.  Of course, by FAMILY restroom, it means single unit.  I reached for the handle and, as expected, it was locked.  I grumbled a few choice words inside my head and sort of listened to see if there was truly someone in there or if this was some sort of cruel joke.  I heard nothing.

“Dad,” Travis groaned.  “I really have to go!”

“Go!” Jake shouted and pointed to the aisle.  He started to try climbing out.

That’s the thing with Jake:  He’ll be all set when he’s old enough to go on rides at an amusement park.  He knows not to try and get up until the cart has completely stopped moving in a forward motion.

I tucked Jake’s legs back in and tried to think of what to do.  If someone was in there (downloading software) for a long time, we were hosed.  I also know Travis’ tolerance for stinky bathrooms.  Many a time have we waited to use a bathroom and if the odor is not to his standards, he’ll hold it until three days from now.

“We just have to wait a minute, buddy,” I said, looking around at the store as if the floor would light up and lead us to a magical bathroom somewhere else within the bowels of Target.

“But I really have to…”

“I know,” I said.  “Just wait a second.”

Now, I don’t know if the poor soul inside the bathroom heard us, but we suddenly heard the toilet flush.  I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking: Good.  Let’s wrap it up in there, friend.  I’ve got a kid with a full tank.

I remembered then why Laura usually has Travis go to the bathroom before we leave and change Jakey’s diaper for good measure.

We expected the door to open at any second.  It didn’t.

“What are they doing in there?” Travis groaned.  From within the cart, he was doing the gotta-go-fidget.  I was thinking we were in trouble.  The flush may have been just a courtesy and whoever was in there was in it for the long haul.  In my head, I cursed the toilet gods and wished an eternity of clogs upon them.

After a millennium, the door opened.

An old woman, easily in her 80’s, came out all smiles.  She probably wasn’t expecting a welcoming committee, but she seemed genuinely happy to see us.  I imagine it was probably like hopping off an airplane and a group of people are waiting to see you on the tarmac with signs and a marching band.  But, you know…different.

She saw me pulling Jake out of his seat and Travis hopping up and down on one foot.  The old lady said hi to Jake and when my youngest reached down to grab a fistful of his older brother’s hair, she said:

“Oh no, cutie.  Don’t pull your brother’s hair.”

Travis stood at the closed bathroom door, as if waiting for me to give him the go ahead.

“Go ahead, Trav,” I said.  “Let’s get in there and go.”

Travis opened the door and before the woman could even put her shriveled hands on the handle of her cart, my oldest shouted:

“Oh, man.  It’s STINKS in here!”

With my back to the woman who was one moment elated and (I’m sure) the next mortified, I stepped in already laughing.

“Let’s go,” I said.  “C’mon.”

“I can’t, Dad.  It smells like poop in here!”

By then, I had the good sense to close the door.  I’m sure this woman caught an earful and could just as easily hear the rest of what we were saying, but by then I didn’t care.  I didn’t want my kid to moisten his shorts for no reason.  I locked the door and had some convincing to do while holding my thick n’ meaty 1 1/2 year old.

“Just go, Travis,” I said.  “They don’t have another bathroom at this Target.”

Travis hesitated.

“Can you plug my nose?”

I blinked.  I imagined a world where it was impossible to keep a steady stream with only one hand.  I wasn’t sure what Travis needed to do with his free hand and I didn’t think it smart to ask or argue.  It sounded like he’d use the rank (and he’s right…it did stink) bathroom under this one condition.  All I had to do is pinch the kid’s nose.

“Fine,” I said and with my one free hand, I pinched his nostril’s shut.

With his pants around his ankles (he still hasn’t mastered the art of just lowering the front down a bit) Travis let fly with the urine.  He talked while he did, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Jake, seeing what I was doing, reached over and pinched my nose shut.

“Noe,” he said, his word for nose. “Noe, noe…”

So there we were: Boy’s Morning at Target, each plugging each other’s nose while doing what needed to be done.  I sort of took a step back from myself (which I do more and more often lately) and I just had to laugh.

If the old lady was still outside the door, weeping into her assorted basket of values, I’m sure she thought all three of us were nuts.

In a way, I guess we sort of are.