You know the scene in Jurassic Park when the velociraptor learns how to open the door to the kitchen and the kids who are hiding inside fear for their lives?
When Mikey was just I tot, I lived out that nightmare.
We were at Bob’s Discount Furniture in Brookfield shopping for a new couch. Mikey had to be about 2 years old. At first he was entertained by the big koi fish that swim around the makeshift stream inside the store.
And by the free cookies and ice cream in the model kitchen.
Then he started bouncing around on all the couches and running through the maze of furniture, so I knew we needed to start wrapping things up. While my husband finished ordering our couch with the salesperson I brought Mikey to the bathroom with me.
At this store, the bathroom is a single-occupancy bathroom located at the front of the store (or at least it was at that time). I lead Mikey in, tell him to just hang tight for a minute, and go about my business.
Then he starts fussing and nears the door, which is just out of reach of me — as I awkwardly hover over the toilet seat trying not to let any body parts touch.
I locked the door, I remind myself. He can’t open it.
He starts reaching up toward the handle, which is one of those long handles and not just a knob.
“Mikey,” I warn.
He grips it and starts to turn, and I see the button pop out.
“Mikey!” I’m leaning forward trying to half-lunge at him, but the little Houdini is quick and before I know it he pulls the door open and darts out.
“Mikey!” I whisper shout, and immediately I see a hand dart out and stop him, and a sweet white-haired woman peers into the bathroom and asks, “Shall I nudge him back in?”
I wait a nanosecond for the Good Lord to answer my prayer and strike me dead, but when that doesn’t happen, I just nod. “Please.”
She does so, and gives me the “I’ve been there” smile, which gives me back a very small portion of my dignity.
Now, a few years later, Mikey likes to go into his own stall in the bathroom. When he’s out with just me, he comes into the ladies room with me because I’m not comfortable sending my 4-year-old into the men’s bathroom unaccompanied.
He can, however, go into his own stall in the ladies room — I just have to do a quick check afterward to make sure he didn’t leave a mess.
Well, recently we were at Stop & Shop, doing our business in neighboring stalls, and I look under and see the bottom of his shoes, which I thought was odd.
“Buddy, what are you doing?”
“Going to the other stall, Momma.”
I lean down and look over and, sure enough, see him crawling under the wall to the next stall over.
“Mikey! Get off the floor that’s disgusting!”
“No, Momma. It’s OK.” That’s his new thing to say. Everything is always OK.
I quickly exit my stall and find him, not two, but THREE stalls over, and drag him out. Then I go to open the other stall doors and, sure enough, they are locked.
“Buddy, why did you do that? Now no one can go into those stalls.”
“They have no toilet paper,” he tells me.
Luckily, I was able to stick my thumbnail into the little crevice on the outside of the lock and turn the whole sphere to unlock each stall and, well, he wasn’t wrong — they were out of toilet paper.
We washed our hands… extensively… and high-tailed it out of there. And I’m now learning to use the bathroom before I go anywhere with my child.
I wasn’t joking when I said I shave off years of my life at the store with Mikey.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 4-year-old. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.