Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 4 - #3 of 5

This post (the fourth in a four part series) is a month late. I started writing it, and it kept growing. The more I sat down and wrote on it, the more I wanted to say, and the longer it got. Since it was (collectively) a HUGE post, it got put on the back burner.
If you are just joining in for the first time, may I suggest you catch up by reading...
Part 1 - I opened up with a little "personal information" that may shed some light on this topic...
Part 2 - My journey into bathroom hell begins.
Part 3 - Waiting in line to get one step closer to a meltdown
Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 4 - #3 of 5 - The Final Chapter

It was while we were sitting in the car waiting for #1 of 5 to get through the line at the bathroom (the bathroom he could not wait to get to, yet ended up waiting in a long line anyway) that my frustration level was close to bubbling over. Thank goodness #1 of 5 is old enough that he does not need adult supervision... That was the only thing that kept me from "losing it".

That was until #3 of 5 said (while the rest of us were waiting in the car) that he too needed to use the bathroom...

(stunned silence....)

(more stunned science...)

(crickets chirping...)

You have GOT to be kidding me?? He didn't just say what I think he did, did he? For the love of.... Oh, come on now...

Almost in tears at this point, I turned to #3 of 5 and pleadingly tried to convince him that he could hold it.... I begged him... I reminded him he was going to have to wait in a line that was so long that he may as well just wait until we got to Grandma's house (our destination)... I was actually convincing him into believing he could make it.

Waving my hand across my field of vision - in my best "Jedi Mind Trick imitation"...

"These are not the droids you are looking for"... "These are not the droids we are looking for"

"You do not have to go to the bathroom as badly as you think"... "I do not have to go to the bathroom as badly as I think"

He agreed that he did not have to go "that bad", and once #1 of 5 made it back to the van, we hurried on our way.

Things were going well until we reached the highway. Once we were on the highway, and the "light at the end of the tunnel" was not far off, #3 of 5 started his "pee-pee squirm".

I started the "cheerleader" technique...

"Come on man, you can do it... Cross those legs, we'll get through it"!

...nearly ever quarter mile.

It would come and go in waves. I did not want to stop and use another public restroom... This time, I WOULD have to go in. We were less than fifteen minutes from Grandma's when #3 of 5 started whimpering... Less... than... 15... mintues...

Around the "10 more minutes" mark the whimpering had become increasingly intense, and frequent. By this time, my frustration level had not only bubbled over, but was popping and hissing on the stove top. I felt he was not going to be able to "make it".

I know what you are all thinking at this point. I am a bad Dad for letting it go this long. You don't have to pretend that you are not thinking this, I was thinking it myself. What a mean and cruel thing to do. Now, not only was I dealing with frustration, but I was dealing with HUGE amounts of guilt... The turmoil inside me was overwhelming...

It was at this point that I snapped... Yup, folks... I admit it... I snapped. While driving down the highway, took the next possible opportunity to swerve the van off the highway onto a residential side street. MOF yelled "What are you doing"? I just kept driving.

It was dark. Very dark. It was residential.

MOF (again) asked me what I was doing. I told her that I had not found a "secluded" enough spot for #3 of 5 to "take care of business" yet, but I would.... House after house... Nothing suitable could be found.

Wait... What was that? An unusually dark area... No houses... and a parking lot too!! I made a quick turn into the lot, and was face to face with a empty, unlit baseball field.

"Get out... Hurry!!" I told #3 of 5 in the best "non threatening" voice I could muster... (Trying in vain to ease my own guilt for letting things get this far...)

"What do you want me to do here" he asked..

My inner-most sarcastic voice wanted me to tell him to "Catch the next pop-fly" or other such nonsensical, smart-alecky comment, but my conscience would not allow it.... (Thank you God....)

"Quick, run out to the middle of that field, and "water the grass" I told him... (allowing myself to use a smart-alecky comment, but not using one directed TOWARDS him...) "I'll turn off the headlights. Make it quick so no one will see you!! Hurry!!" <strike>so I don't have to smell the pee in your pants from "not making it" all the way home.</strike>

He ran out into the field, bounding like non-pop-able (yet filled beyond capacity) water balloon.

#3 of 5 made it to somewhere in the "shortstop" range, when I noticed he was "watering the lawn". I quickly turned off the lights. If anyone saw this late night - unauthorized act of defiling the baseball field, surely I would loose my children to Child Protective Services... Especially when the kids told CPS the story of how I was using bladder torture techniques on them during the interviews...

I sighed (again)... A broken man. Look what I have done...

Between my anger for having to stop a THIRD time to use a (public) bathroom, and my guilt for making my son suffer for my hang-up - I was beyond composure. I was going to need to distance myself from this whole experience so as to not <strike>say</strike> <strike>yell</strike> scream something I should not.

Hold you tough FOF... Hold it... You can hold other things (like your bladder) well... Hold back the inevitable temper tantrum you are about to have... Hold it... H..O..L..D.. I..T..

#3 of 5 made his way back to the van. My hands gripped "white knuckle style" around the steering wheel as #3 of 5 crawled back into his seat. You could cut the tension in the air with a dull knife, and you could hear a pin drop. Yeah, it was that quiet. They all knew that now was not the time to say anything, lest cause me to go completely off my rocker...

I started backing out of the lot, when I heard (in a small timid voice from the back of the van) "... Um, Dad..." - and as I turned to see which one of the five was going to get the brunt of my fury, when The Mother of Five started to giggle. First the MOF, then another one of the kids.. It was not long before everyone (except me) was giggling. This is NOT what I needed right now. As I turned my head so as to address the whole lot of 'em (to receive equal portions of my rage), I spotted it in the corner of my eye...

I had not noticed it when we pulled in because the direction the headlights were facing, but as I backed out and swung the headlights around the opposite direction... There it stood... In all it's glory...

A Porta-Potty. Lit up by my headlights... Standing there mocking me...

I had all I could stand. This was the straw that broke the camel's back... My emotions were going Kilauea on me. It was out of my control at this point... Look out everyone, because there was no stopping it...

When all of a sudden, (and VERY unexpectedly) I started laughing... It was as if the floodgates burst, and instead of erupting in a fit of anger and rage, it all came out as laughter. Not "crazy guy" laughter either... Real, true, "I can not believe the irony in all this" gut busting laughter...

The more I laughed, the more the kids and my wife laughed... Then, the more they laughed, the more it caused me to, and so on... I bet we sat for five full minutes, all laughing at how this all worked out...

It was the best possible outcome that could have happened.... It broke any and all tension I was feeling... The stress was gone... We were in tears from all the laughing... All seven of us... It was a memory that wont leave me for a very long time.


I think it's fair to say that I learned a lot about myself that day - about my shortcomings, about things I need to worry a little bit less about, and things I need to worry a little bit more about. I learned some meaningful lessons (through trial, error, and failure) about what being a dad... about what being a GOOD dad... is really all about.

We still get a chuckle of this story. I guess it's only fitting (and well deserved) that I have had to relive this story many times by sharing the story with family and friends. The kids can't wait to tell the next person (who has not heard the story). "Tell _(name)_ the story about the bathrooms Daddy"!

But, let's get one thing straight... I STILL HATE (and will avoid at all costs) public restrooms...


  1. Dude, you have five kids and you're only NOW discovering your shortcoming?

    Crikey man! I discovered mine within the first week of having my first son at home.

    I bow to your greatness (and patience!).

  2. That's too bad about your anxiety. Maybe its all in how you look at your situation. Don't look at the "porta-potty" as a public facility...think of it more as an "urban moss box". Perhaps that will make it a bit easier.

  3. I'm glad you laughed. I hope you didn't have a full bladder while doing it.

    I have to hold my temper every time we go somewhere and they all need to use the bathroom, usually at different times. I keep muttering things like, "This is why I told you to use the bathroom before we left!" though it never produces a satisfactory apology.

  4. Great story! I am glad you laughed.

    Wishing you many more times of laughter preceded, hopefully, by slightly less agony!

  5. I think I would have run that smart-assed port a potty over! But you are a better man than me.


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