The wooden structures were...borrowing a quote from the Russian figure skating coach in The Cutting Edge, "Legano...Illegano...Is grey area." I'm fairly certain the wooden ark didn't pass safety standards and regulations. How Alice didn't get her leg stuck, leaving her body flailing around, suspended between the levels in the ark is beyond me. But, it wasn't the play equipment that worried me.
A stones throw from the play area were the animals. Goats, horses, turkeys, geese, an emu, and a pig. The goats were innnn-sane! Vicious, child-eating goats, and one was loose running amok with the kids. Weaving in and out of the angelic children brave enough to try to feed the caged animals, his head down and his horns right at rib level. Again, I wasn't worried.
I was preoccupied with another matter entirely. We arrived at 11:00. We ate at noon, and by ate I mean whined, cried, and generally threw a tantrum for all to see, temporarily refusing to eat the horrible lunch I packed. And now it was 1:00. My mind was ruminating. It was eminent. Too much time had passed and she had ate and drank. As the saying goes, what goes in must come out. The facility was nice, but it was a fairly bare bones establishment. Public bathrooms were not going to be an option. I saw a line of 4 porta-potties when we walked in. I'm not sure if you've had the pleasure of taking a small child into one of these pristine enclosures, but I'm sure you yourself have been in one. It's never something anyone enjoys doing. I have a friend who, at a camping music festival, didn't shit for 3 days out of porta-pot fear. A decision had to be made, leave now before the urge hits her or pray for the best, knowing the inevitable was coming.
The decision was made for me.
"Mama, I have to go potty." ....wait for it.... "It's poop."
For a moment I contemplated what to do. I could ask her to hold it, but I remember how that turned out when Alice ended up shitting on the side of some back road off I95. I could take her to the car and use the in-case-of-emergencies-handy-dandy-portable-poop-in-a-bag potty. But then my almost 4 year old is pooping in my car in a parking lot. I guess it was time to suck it up and brave the porta-pot.
Armed with a pack of wipes, we walked over. Picking which door to open is sort of like Russian roulette. I chose door number one...mistake. As I opened the door I saw a sight common in the portable toilet sector, a man's back to me as he's standing there peeing. What is it with guys not locking the door? Men! Lock the freaking door! I have no desire to open door after door seeing you and your junk pissing. I said a quick "sorry" and let go off the door, dumbfounded as to why I was apologizing for walking in on him. Thankfully, Alice was in la la land and didn't notice.
Up next, door number 4. I opened the door and ushered Alice inside, laying down the ground rules. "Don't touch anything." I surveyed the scene. It wasn't pretty, but surprisingly, it didn't stink. Pee all over the toilet seat and dribbles on the floor. This was going to be tricky. I pulled her shirt up and tucked it under her chin as I mulled over whether to take her skort completely off or pull it down. All the while, she's talking.
"Mama? What's that? Why is the water blue? Why's there so much blue water? Why's there pee on the seat? What's that in the potty? Watch me, Mama."
"Alice just be still. Stop moving. Pretend your feet are glued to the floor. Don't touch your shoes, please, Alice."
In one fell swoop I pulled Alice's skort down and lifted her into the air. So far, so good. Step one done and minimal contact with urine. Holding her little bum over the potty, I told her to go for it. And go for it she did as pee started to flow. This was where things started to get dicey. She must have had to pee like a race horse cause the pee was flowing with some force and I could hardly see where it was going. Holding her entire body above the potty, I moved her around to aim the pee in the hole. It was trial and error, really. If pee hit the edge or splattered on me, I knew it was time to readjust. Step two done, with a bit more damage. Though, at least this time I was sure who's urine was on my toe. Note to self, remove skort completely next time.
"I don't need to poop, Mama. Poop's not coming," she pleaded.
"Alice, we're in here. You said you had to poop. You're trying." The last thing I wanted was to go through all that for her to demand a bathroom on the way home. Holding her a bit more firmly, I gave her no choice. A bit of grunting and a few pushes later, she was done. I thank the Gods, when the poop fell into the depths of the blue disinfectant it didn't splash back on us. Step three, check.
We were almost in the clear. All we had to do was pull her skort back up and we were home free. This step was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be. As I dropped Alice to her feet, I neglected to hold her flowery skort. I watched as it cascaded down around her Tevas. I saw the dribbles of pee scattered around her feet. I cringed at the thought. As fast as I could, I grabbed her skort and her Rapunzel undies and tugged upward. They got stuck at her knees. See, it was a hot day, things were sweaty. I was forced to drop the skort and work solely on the undies.
"Alice, help me out. Come on. Stop moving around and help me get your undies up. Stop! Your skorts getting in the pee! DO YOU SEE THE PEE?!"
It was obvious. She didn't care about the pee. She was walking around, her skort down around her ankles, skimming the disgusting, feces stained porta-pot floor. Her undies we rolling and sticking, refusing to go in place. I was forced to abandon the porta-pot. I grabbed her, opened the door and procedded to dress her outside. Step four, done. A little more urine and possibly trace amounts of feces rounded out the mission. All in all, a success.
Alice resumed playing like portable toilets were no big thing. And really, they're not. They are disgusting hot beds for germs and probably diseases I can't even name. But, when you've got to go you've got to go. I just worry about what I'm going to do when she's too big for me to hold over the potty and yet too small to hover feet on the floor. Do those kids actually sit their behinds on the porta-potty seat? I shudder at the thought.