On a hike recently, I may have made the mistake of mentioning that it was difficult for me to pee while hiking. The sad realization was that I was the fourth and oddest in my family of creatures made for peeing on the side of a road, out the car window, off a cliff or anywhere else with the ease of Sunday morning. My sons were happily peeing when they asked me if I needed to go. I responded a little too quickly that I wasn’t built for peeing in the desert. Besides the usual problem of squatting that women find–one of the several disadvantages to not having a penis, I find squatting in the desert offers dangers one hopes never to have inflicted at the site that also does the peeing. There began my 7 year old’s brain scan…
of all things that might make peeing for me on a hike—much easier. He vowed that he would make me something so I could pee on a hike, and I thanked him kindly-figuring he would forget his loyal promise to make my life easier and my bladder more effortlessly emptied in the great outdoors.
And two days later, he asked for my attention sternly as he needed to show me his invention. He was very excited and needed to see his mother smile proudly while he presented yet another of his tributes to being an inventor. I would like to argue that he is, in fact, already an inventor. And I walked behind him to the garage where he introduced my new toilet.
Atop a skateboard that has long since been replaced with other moving toys, was placed a cleaning bucket, lined with a grocery bag. The bucket was securely fastened to the skateboard with no less than a mile of packaging tape. And two things ran through my head—
1) 1. My son loves me so much
2) 2. I will never truly have to use this contraption
And in usual fashion, I am always wrong on a high percentage of my assumptions. My son does love me more than I ever imagined children love their parents. And I felt so lucky to be his mother. So when I was asked to take a hike with him later this evening, (When did he start remembering things, by the way? What happened to forgetful Pete?) and he started rolling my new girl toilet down the street, I assured him that we would be unable to roll this toilet through the desert landscape. Good for me, I thought… only to be met with great consternation and a quick solution… Let’s just walk down the street instead. I took one look at my son as if deciding to drink of the unknown elixir, and I knew in a second—I wouldn’t tell him no. He was so proud, I could feel it in the air. I strapped on my mommy purple heart and knew no matter how embarrassing this trip got—I was in, and I would remember that look on his face. He grabbed the handle on the bucket, and we began walking down the street. It was surprisingly agile over the suburban sidewalks. I walked behind him, chatting and listening as we do on our own. And about a block away from home, he asked me, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
“No, I don’t. Thank you. But I am so glad we have this along with us. What a great invention, sweetheart.”
Two more steps.
“Do you have to go now, mom? You have to try it. I really think it will make hiking easier for you!”
“Nope. But thank you, dear. Luckily, I went potty before we left the house.”
Half a step.
“Mom, you have to try the toilet. How will I know it works? I made it especially for you!”
And my slow and steady answer was “yes”. I looked about quickly, unsure how I was going to manage what I was about to do. We were in the middle of the neighborhood. And it was truly unthinkable to not only pee, but especially in the middle of the neighborhood. And without too many details because I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or shocked or happy that I was able to make it happen– I took the little toilet behind the mailbox and quickly used it.
And when I came out, my son had a million questions for me on its usability, it’s cleanliness and a bunch of phrases showing me his delight at providing me this gift. I knew whatever I had just done and whoever might have viewed me out their window would have to bother someone else with the comments of impropriety. I walked glibly home behind my seven year old, while he went on and on about his invention and how excited he was. I felt like a million dollars and possibly because I was relieved and relieved it was over. And I was thrilled someone loved me that much.