The other day I went to Walmart with the four kids. Now, the three younger kids are basically triplets (for all practical purposes), they are at the same level of potty training (or rather, not potty training), they talk about the same unintelligible speak, they climb the same (well, perhaps our congolese daughters climb better), and they fight the same. They also love each other a lot, and I am pretty convinced that Isla sees herself as a triplet. I know she did when we were fostering the twins that were her age last year, and it seems the same again. In what matters to this story, I have 2 year old triplets and a 4 1/2 year old that just came to the states 2 months ago.
Back to the day at Walmart. Natalie needs to us the bathroom. Now. So, we rush our way to the restrooms (how do you find anything in a Walmart, that is my first question). I tell Natalie to hurry in by herself while I unbuckle the littles from all their belts (two were in the cart, one on my back). Mistake one about to happen. We hurry into the bathroom (me feeling guilty for sending the 4 year old in "alone"), with one squirming "two year" old under my arm, one on my back and one crying "wait ah me!". Natalie is just shutting and locking the door to the stall. And here goes. I innocently say, "Natalie, I just wanted to tell you that these are the kind of toilets that flush automatically, so don't get worried if it happens, ok?". To which---she starts screaming hysterically (as if there is now a monster in the toilet) trying to unlock the bathroom door and get out before it gets her. As she is panically trying to figure out the lock, I am trying to calm her down saying it's okay, it would only flush, it's not going to hurt you (you know, all those inane things we say as parents when our children are acting, in our minds, irrationally). The other two (one on my back, remember) are running around pushing stall doors open or playing in the low sink with the water (great). Natalie is out of control at this point and I'm considering how to crawl under the bathroom door (with a kid on my back) to unlock the stupid thing when she bursts out. Her face red, tears all over, she is doing the "gotta go" dance while continuing to cry and cling to me. And what do I do? Well, the only thing there is to do, pick her up and put her on the offending toilet. Of course, I can't leave the two year olds alone out there, so I bring them in too and I shut the door. It was a tiny bathroom. Natalie refuses to let her self get near the toilet, I don't want to get peed on, and the other two on the ground want to know what is up with the toilet and start to put their hands in it! Finally, she pees, somehow suspended above the toilet crying hysterically. I'm am eyeing that stupid automatic flusher because I know that if it flushes, I and the littles will get peed on. Thank God (!!!) it didn't flush. Of course, I am laughing by now, and have to go too. I can't even sit in the bathroom so I send Natalie and Isla out of the stall. Mistake number two. They are right outside of my door, but Natalie is freaked out enough she is convinced that the monsters that inhabit all the automatic sinks and hand dryers are randomly going to turn on and get her. And she is afraid that toilets will randomly start flushing. So, she begins crying again and yelling. Isla joins in. Somehow, I do what I need to do with a kid on my back. The other is crying now too. I manage to get out to the sink. Trying to wash all their hands is a joke that I do attempt and that involves many reassurances that the sink is quiet and the water is not hot. And finally we leave (dignity not intact anymore I'm quite sure). And I'm pretty sure there was one other person in the bathroom that day that never came out, we probably freaked them out too much!
On the way home I think to myself, why why why automatic motion censored toilets? Why? Couldn't we just have a button on the floor that we push with our foot?
enjoying the farmer's market by the lake