I am not a germ-a-phobe.
I have been known to eat food off the ground. I do not always wash my hands before a meal. I do not typically sanitize my tray table on an airplane. I don't mind drinking after other people. Double dipping in the queso does not scare me. And I've never owned a grocery cart cover to protect my kids from all the germs lurking out there.
However, there is one place that makes my skin crawl. A place the can literally make me gag just thinking of it. A place I try to avoid at all cost. Where?
A public restroom.
There are varying degrees of tolerability:
A friend's house? Acceptable (unless it is, say, a young man's bachelor pad in which case I would resist)
Church? The smell freaks me out a little, but I'm still ok
Target, the mall, the playground? Only if one of the Littles has an emergency
Airplane? Only on an international trip.
Port-a-potty? Absolutely not! I would rather find a tree or, if worse came to worse, wet my pants. That is, sadly, not an exaggeration...one to which Andy could testify.
When I was in college I went to China for one month and never used a public restroom! We even went on an overnight trip and I was able to make it. I just dehydrated myself (so unhealthy, I know). I tried one time to use a public restroom while we were there, but the smell was so bad from 15 yards away from the building that I couldn't get any closer. (fyi, not all public restrooms in China are like that. Some are quite nice, I'm sure. But I'm not the one to tell you about them.)
I'm not sure exactly how this phobia developed and I'm sure it seems completely irrational to lots of people (isn't that part of the definition of a phobia?). But, nevertheless, it is where I live.
It is the reason I require everyone to go to the bathroom and/or get a diaper change before we leave the house and I don't offer an endless flow of beverages to my kids while running errands. It is the reason that I thank God (seriously) that He has given me and Caedmon two of the largest bladders known to man. AND, it is the reason why I may possibly be the worst candidate in the world to potty train a child. If it hadn't taken Caedmon so flippin' long to potty train (about 13 months!) we would likely have stayed quarantined to our own house until he learned to hold it for extended periods of time.
Can you imagine this scene...
We're at Target and the 2.5 year old potty-training Caedmon announces he needs to go potty.
Me: Silent GROAN. "Seriously? Can you hold it?"
We trudge into the bathroom while my exploratory child touches everything he sees. He does not yet realize (like I do, of course) that it is possible to contract a terminal illness simply by breathing too deeply in the bathroom. Fungus and bacteria literally crawl right up your body if you sit down on that germ-infested floor. And you might grow a third eye simply by allowing any part of your skin to touch the toilet seat.
Poor 2.5 year old Caedmon did not realize this, but thank goodness he had a mom like me to protect him!
So our 10-minutes-too-long in the public restroom was punctuated with me shrieking and squealing like a hyena and it's no wonder that my son had such issues with potty-training! It's also no wonder that I've not even begun attempting to train Sammy, although I'm confident he's quite ready. I'm still recovering from the trauma of the experience with Caedmon and keep telling myself that Sammy will be fine as long as we get him out of diapers before kindergarten!
The other day I had a strange combination of emotions (amusement, pride, and a tinge of guilt) as I watch Caedmon use a public restroom. He didn't touch a thing with his bare hands. He lifted the seat with a piece of toilet paper. He flushed the toilet with his foot. He scrubbed his hands vigorously while singing the ABC's and then opened the door with a paper towel! I laughed to myself as a realized that it is TOTALLY my fault that Caedmon is this way.
So, Caedmon, I'm sorry if your friends make fun of you when you get to middle school and they see all of your "routines" when you use the restroom. But take it from me, Son, you're not going to be the one growing a third eye. And who's gonna be laughing then, huh?