Everybody knows about the ‘girl card,’ that ace in the hole the ladies play anytime there is a bug to smash, something nasty to take out, or a heavy object that needs lifting (Honey, can you use those big strong muscles to move this furniture around for me?), but did you know that men and kids have cards to play as well? ‘Man card,’ you ask? Isn’t that a relic of a bygone era? Men aren’t supposed to have any ‘cards’ these days, right?! No my friend, it is not, and yes, we most certainly do. And even kids have cards, as you will soon see.
The baby and toddler stages are fun and all, but what parent doesn’t look forward to the time when all the kids are FINALLY potty trained? Having four kids one right after the other, February of this year marked the 7th straight year of diaper changing for us, with at least 1-2 years to go (depending on how quickly Grace can step-it-up!). We love having little ones, but we certainly won’t miss our diaper changing table when it finally graduates to that big yard sale in the sky.
However, there is a stage that follows the diaper changing stage that can be just as problematic, if not worse at times – the ‘I gotta go potty’ stage. Here is where I think girls make up for the fact that you don’t have to wear eye goggles and swim trunks to change their diapers. You see, the ‘I gotta go potty’ stage is pretty easy for boys. Just teach them how to stand and pee and you’re good (most of the time). For girls, it’s a bit more complicated. Sure, they can learn how to take their clothes down and climb on the toilet, but when you exchange what isn’t that big a deal at home to the normally filthy public restrooms one encounters at any restaurant or retail facility, it’s a recipe for pure unadulterated nastiness.
What three year old knows how to pull her pants down just enough to avoid touching the urine-soaked floor, then sit down and still keep the partially-downed clothes from touching the sides of the toilet? What three year old thinks of wiping down and putting toilet paper on the seat – of flushing before AND after – of getting off and on without grabbing the toilet seat like it’s a rock-climbing handle – of thoroughly washing her hands with soap in warm water? That’s right, none, which is why a parent has to help them – every time. And even then, it’s hard to avoid the germs. Believe me, public restrooms and toddler girls are a bacteria-laden, germ-infested mix… trying to keep them clean is like trying to keep a hog from rolling in the mud…
…impossible, especially if you have a toddler like our Hannah. Right now Hannah is at that fun stage where, for some inexplicable reason, she feels the need to visit the restroom of every public place we enter. How does she do it? Why, she uses the ‘kid card,’ of course! We’ll be in a restaurant, about to sink our forks into a nice, hot, just-delivered meal when Hannah blurts out, “I gotta go potty.”
“Can it wait,” one of us will say, glancing at her food, then at her, then at our food again (yeah that’s usually me).
“But I gotta go potty!” Hannah will say, not the least bit concerned about the hotness of our meal. Instead, she’s wondering what color soap is in the bathroom.
“Hannah, we just got our food. Please eat some first and we’ll go potty after.”
“But it’s coming out RIGHT NOW!” Here’s where it gets hard, because if she’s telling the truth we’ll have a bigger problem on our hands than a trip to a nasty toilet right before a nice meal. But the majority of the time, probably 9 times out of 10, she either doesn’t go at all or we hear the slight tinkle of someone who surely could have waited an HOUR or two. However, inevitably, we resign ourselves to someone having to take her to the bathroom. We just can’t take that chance, and she knows it. Well played, Hannah… well played.
I’m almost embarrassed to write this (not really), but it’s the truth. Here is where I play the ‘man card.’ In this case, there is no doubt that public men’s restrooms are about as filthy as restrooms can get. By merely stating that fact to my wife I accomplish something truly grand – I self-deprecate by elevating the female gender over the male (women ARE cleaner, right? Even if that’s not true it’s subjective, and what woman will insist to the contrary? That’s right, none, not even my wife) AND get out of having to take my daughter to the restroom! How cool is that?
Sure, it’s kinda funny (um, yeah you’d have to be there, AND be a man), but it really is true. Yes, I’ve had to do it before and no, it’s not pretty, but normally my ‘man card’ works in this instance. I’m sure our kids could contract some sort of flesh-eating bacteria from either restroom, but the chances are surely greater in the men’s room, right? So, I’ll continue to do my share by lifting heavy stuff, killing bugs, and taking my son to the restroom when he needs go to potty RIGHT NOW! Kim can take care of the girls – that’s fair, right?
Oh, and just a note – the ‘man card’ only works if it’s used sparingly and selectively. If you try to use it on diaper changing or cleaning up in the kitchen, there are multiple ‘girl cards’ she can play to not only nullify your ‘man card,’ but revoke it altogether. 🙂
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