Everett's Adventures with Public Washrooms and Red Shoes

My stories about my adventures with Everett are some of the most popular articles on the blog. I thought it was time to share some more wonderful Everett experiences.

As I've mentioned on here in the past and in my old "Dad's Eye View" columns, we started plopping Everett on the toilet really early. Without bothering to do something frivolous like fact checking, I believe it was around six months that we started having Everett sit on a toilet. Though for the first month we didn't have a "potty seat", so it was more like holding the small infant over the chasm known as the "toilet hole" (does it actually have a name?). Though hovering over a giant hole that occasionally made large flushing noises and seemingly was threatening to consume him was probably not on Everett's list of favourite things in the world, he did handle that initial ordeal well. I can't remember if he actually ever did anything as he precariously dangling over the abyss.

We eventually got Everett a "potty seat." It allowed him a new spot to look at his upside down book while we made peeing noises and rooted him on to take a poop. For those first few months, it was more just about getting him comfortable with the toilet rather than actual training.

Before Everett's first birthday he had got pretty comfortable with the toilet and even sometimes was beginning to do things other than shake his little body while I sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep." It was decided to keep up the momentum that we'd get a second "potty seat" so we could keep up the pure joy of cheering on a half-naked boy as he busted a move on top of the porcelain throne at places outside our home.

The problem turned out to be grandma. Not that grandma would bust into public washrooms and snatch our son in a mid-poop. That isn't really my mom's style, and we rarely notified her when we were out to cover our tracks, just in case. The issues was that Everett would go over to grandma's house on occasion (since that time it has been upped to at least once a week so I have a day to focus on writing), but she didn't have a "potty seat" nor a shrink ray gun to make the toilet less scary for our small son. It meant if we wanted to keep up the habit of Everett going on the toilet then we'd need to remember to bring the portable "potty seat" each time. Between trying to remember to pack his diaper bag and have some "back-up" clothes, we usually ended up leaving the "potty seat" right at the door while we rushed off to the car (usually late to wherever we wanted but armed with Everett as our excuse).

Eventually, we remembered to bring the portable "potty seat" and in order to avoid that annoying habit of forgetting it, we ordained it a permanent resident of grandma's house. That covered the Everett and Grandma parties, but it once again left us without anything for Everett to sit on when we went to restaurants or day trips. Initially, we voted to avoid buying a third "potty seat" and instead opt to either try to remember to pick up the one from Grandma's (yeah right) or convince Everett it was really fun to float over a giant hole that could suck you into the great unknown.

The faulty belief was that hovering over the toilet hole was how we did it at the start and Everett never seemed to be too scared then. It seems our son grew comfortable with the life of being perched up on a toilet with a secure "potty seat." He wasn't about to return to the adventurous lifestyle of feeling like he could fall in, and he had got quite adept at arm waving and foot kicking through all his improvised dance sessions, so it made it hard to keep him in the dangle position.

For a bit, we just gave up on trying to get him to use the toilet at public places. Luckily, it wasn't like we made many forays out as a family (or should that have been sadly -- my introvert is showing again), so the toilet training wasn't completely destroyed. As Everett started to approach the mature age of 2, we began to discuss really elevating the "get Everett to not poop in his pants" game. At home we would try to get him on the toilet every hour. We would start offering rewards if he peed or pooed on the "potty." While he wasn't fully trained and he wouldn't tell us when he had to pee, we did get to a spot where he'd let us know if a "poo poo" was on the way.

At this point, it was decided to finally go for portable potty number 3. Though since Everett was still in diapers, there still wasn't the same urgency when we were out. Though the new portable "potty seat" was grand and used often, there would be time that we just left fate do its thing rather than make constant visits to the washroom.

Then it all changed on Christmas when Santa stuffed Everett's stocking full of "big boy underwear." Of course, underwear isn't worth anything if it isn't plastered with monkeys and cars. Such things are exactly what a little boy wants on his bottom. We transitioned from diapers all day to only diapers during naps and nighttime sleeping.

This now meant we were staging our own mini-Olympics at home. Everett would utter a word that sounded close to "pee" or "poop", and we'd sweep him up and charge for the washroom. It sometimes was a false alarm. Sometimes it was a massive success that led to Everett getting a reward. Sometimes evidence of what he was doing would be all over my shirt and his pants. The accidents decreased as the weeks went on. At one point I could even brag that I had a spotless record when Everett was strictly on my watch. Though the moment I started trumpeting that fact, it of course led to a disastrously wet week.

Eventually the home situation was under control. I still wouldn't declare Everett to be potty trained. He often will run and hide behind a chair the moment I ask if he has to "go potty." For the most part, Everett's business is conducted on the toilet. I'm confident he'll tell us he has to go without prompting before he's a teenager.

The real workout has been our time at restaurants or other public places. We've got a pretty good record. When we first started going out with an underwear clad Everett, there were several rushes towards the facilities. Many places aren't the best for changing a diaper, and they're even worse for trying to clean and change an energetic boy from his urine drenched pants. I always felt having an underwear adorned Everett go out to restaurants to be a bit of a high-stakes game of chance. It was that small fear that likely avoided any major accidents by constantly taking him but also meant I had a lot of cold meals (of course, we normally just ate sushi and sashimi, so that may have been part of the reason too).

While it was a bit of a challenge to convince Everett to "go potty" at home, it turned out to be much easier to do at restaurants. The big advantage was that being out was an adventure. It allowed Everett to leave his table and say "hi" to every patron on the way to the washroom. He also normally helpfully notified them of what he planned to do. It was a visit to the local Indian cuisine restaurant that really convinced Everett that washroom trips at restaurants are a wonderful thing.

I had done my normal panicked rush to the washroom, as Everett had warned that something was brewing. As was usual, I had my arms in a pretzel and Everett's pants flung on my head in an attempted to manage all the stuff in his bag, put on his "potty seat" and get him on the toilet on time. It was a success, but I was still feeling like I'd just been in a war. It was then, for what I think was one of the first times, another person entered the washroom while I tried to coax Everett into making the mad dash worthwhile.

Everett instantly perked up when he heard the door open. You could see his face deep in concentration as he tried to listen for what the door opening would lead to next. It was then that we heard footsteps. Quickly after that, red shoes became visible beside our stall.

This is when Everett made his first insightful observation in the washroom.

"Red shoes walking."

Then he looked down to realize that the walking was now done. The shoes were now sedentary. It was now time for the next big insight.

"Red shoes standing."

Then for the next few seconds, Everett regaled me with a tale about how the red shoes both walked and now stood. The owner of the red shoes seemed to appreciate this conversation, so he slid a red shoe into the stall.

"Red shows walking."

Then the owner of the red shoes did what he had planned all along.

"Red shoes peeing! Red shoes peeing!"

This led to laughter from both I and the mysterious red shoes. This of course encouraged Everett to become even more emphatic about what was being done by the red shoes. This led to much more laughter. And I'm sure my son just made the evening of Mr. Red Shoes.

After the red shoes left, Everett let me know they did indeed walk, stand and pee. It was quite a marvelous event that red shoes would pee. Everett thought this may have been the greatest moment of his short life. I'm not entirely convinced that Everett believed there was someone attached to those red shoes. For the next few days, he would let anyone who would listen know that red shoes were peeing and he witnessed this iconic moment.

The red shoes event meant now that peeing and pooing at restaurants were far more exciting than at home. It was now a mandatory ritual that Everett got at least one visit to the washroom. I am pretty sure he was seeking out those red shoes. Though he never did get to encounter his dear friends ever again. He was now much more alert, just in case someone even more exciting would cross his path.

I don't think any person could possible match the pure thrill and excitement of red shoes. It was an impossible expectation. One day Everett did get yet another visitor in a public washroom. Except this time we weren't able to know the colour of the shoes. This washroom was designed differently, and you couldn't see the feet of the patron at the urinal unless you decided to hop off the toilet and poke your head underneath the door. Now, this is something I think Everett was willing to do, but I wasn't in the mood to wash my shirt in the public sink.

It was the usual public "potty" routine, until we heard the door open. This time Everett not only sat at attention but was stretching out his neck in hope he'd turn into a giraffe and see who had entered. It was crucial that the new person be seen in hopes they were as captivating as a pair of red shoes. Luckily, we were about done the business, and we were able to finish up before the man was done.

I lifted Everett off the toilet and held him, and he instantly peered over the stall walls to finally discover who had entered. It was an older gentleman. He was a man with a full head of white hair. He was completely unaware that someone was watching him like a famished hawk. During this stare-a-thon, Everett made an important observation.

"New gampa!"

"New gampa peeing!"

Clearly, the man had to be a grandpa. Everett was well aware it wasn't the same grandpa who tickled and played with him. It had to be a new grandpa.

"Hi new gampa!"

The man realized his sole hope for a private pee had been vanquished. He acknowledged Everett and gave the chuckle that I'm sure my son expected. After he wandered out the door, Everett reminded me what the man had being doing. I'm glad I have my son to make me aware of the purpose of washrooms.

This is what going to the washroom is like when you're a parent. It is fun and educational. You even have the chance to talk to people that you'd never in any other situation have a conversation. Plus those last minute warnings are a great work out and a good test to see how my heart is doing.