When you visit a museum with your kids, take a potty break first.
Written by Leslie Kendall Dye
Today, my daughter bridged a sacred body of water to her tiny body full of water in a centuries-old bodily ritual.
It started out with a simple request. My two-year-old asked to wear underpants instead of diapers. It was 140 degrees in the shade, so I said, “Sure, wear underpants.”
Then we set out on a summer adventure: a trek through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We arrived with sweaty bodies, parched throats and—I assumed—full bladders.
We marched down the airy plaza of the American Wing and into the restroom. She watched Mommy urinate and I asked her if she wouldn’t like to try out this pretty porcelain toilet gleaming in its marble stall.
She declined. She didn’t have to pee, she told me, or she absolutely would.
Every NYC parent knows you need to bring fistfuls of pennies to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh, those glorious fountains! I assume the museum collects more money from the thousands of coins tossed there daily by tiny children than it does from admission fees.
Armed with a pouch of pennies, we raced to our favorite “fountain.”
There is no more magical body of water in the whole of New York City than the reflecting pool at The Temple of Dendur. An Egyptian temple built in 15 BC, it was transported brick by ancient brick to the United States. A skylight bathes the temple and its waters diffuse light meant to mirror that of Nubia’s. Certainly none of this grandeur is lost on the discriminating toddlers of Manhattan.
My cherub ran to the pool’s ledge. We lined up her pennies. She began tossing them in at an alarming speed.
“Take your time,” I told her. “Relax.”
She stopped tossing pennies. Her face grew contemplative, meditative. Hers was the face of a toddler filled with wonder in a mystical landscape. Hers was the face of a serene being gazing out over the water, reflecting by a reflecting pond.
Hers was the face of a toddler urinating on ancient sandstone.
I have approached toilet training with the same lack of organization and consistency that characterizes my strategy for motherhood. “It will work out.” That’s my attitude. I don’t have gold star stickers or charts or books. Sometimes my daughter adores the toilet; sometimes she feels it is unnecessary.
“Did you pee in the Nile?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said. “It’s because I relaxed!”
We sat quietly in urine for a while. At last I took some paper towels out of the diaper bag and patted the wet ledge. I offered up a prayer that sandstone from 15 BC wouldn’t crumble when soaked in toddler pee. We headed conspiratorially back to the marble bathroom.
She tap-danced on the changing table while I slipped a fresh dress over her head.
“Now you know that relaxing is the secret to a good pee,” I told her. “Next time, relax on the toilet.”
“Okay Mommy,” she said.
Then she asked me why changing tables have safety belts and could she get a banana or chocolates at the café and was the glass elevator in The American Wing working and could we swivel the postcards at the gift shop and were we walking home or taking a taxi.
I don’t know if she learned anything today, but I did:
I learned that I prefer to take it as it comes rather than trying to control my child’s development.
I also learned that one can pee in full view of hundreds of visitors to the country’s most famous museum and not one of them will have any idea. That’s a very relaxing thought.
This post originally appeared on BLUNTmoms.
About the Author: Leslie Kendall Dye is an actor and dancer. She lives in the city that never sleeps with a family that rarely sleeps. You can find her writing at Hungry Little Animal and also on Facebook and Twitter