Lately, I’m looking at department store ladies’ rooms from a different perspective especially when I shop with my daughter and her two babies, 6 weeks and 20 months. My favorite is the one at my local Nordstrom. Who would have thought a public restroom and its accompanying lullaby lounge for nursing mothers would prove fascinating to a toddler four months shy of his second birthday?
Because he absolutely cannot stay imprisoned in his stroller for the eons of time (his perspective) it takes his mother to nurse a newborn, he wanders out of the lullaby lounge into the bathroom and I follow him. He looks around for something to do and spies the soap dispenser. His eyes light up. Having mastered the word water quite clearly, he insists on washing his hands.
I lift all 26 pounds of him, balance his solid little body on my knee, squirt soap into his palms and turn on the cold water. He carefully and thoroughly washes and rinses both hands, repeating the word dirty several times which I take to mean another squirt of soap. We repeat this more than once.
Bored with washing, he notices the paper towel dispenser conveniently placed at a level that makes it possible for him to reach on his own. Thrilled with his discovery, he proceeds to pull down the paper and tear it off the roll. He watches as I demonstrate the drying of hands and the throwing away of the towel. He does a credible job of copying me… again and again and again.
“Enough,” I say and he agrees, his attention falling on the lock of an unoccupied stall. He pushes the bolt back and forth several times and then attempts to close the door, testing his discovery. I follow him inside the stall where we spend an agonizingly long time locking and unlocking the door. Of course, this means another bout of lifting, squirting, washing and drying.
A woman clearly not old enough to have grandchildren applies lipstick over one of the sinks. She looks at me pointedly. I imagine she’s thinking I don’t care about the trees we are wasting or maybe I don’t know that California is in the middle of a drought, or both. Actually I do. I care very much, but at this time, in this place, desperate means call for desperate measures.