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How to Change Your Daughter's Diaper in a Public Bathroom Like a Pro

Photograph by Getty Images/Westend61

When your wife is pregnant, people love to ask, "Do you want a boy or girl?" The PC thing to say is, "I just want it to be healthy," but what most dads are thinking is, "I want a boy and I want him to look and act just like me." Personally, I really did just want a healthy and happy baby, regardless … ah, screw it, I wanted a boy but I got a girl.

However, I can say that without feeling bad because I unequivocally now realize having a daughter is the best. The. Freakin. Best. There's nothing more special than the relationship between a father and his little girl. Every time my daughter Stella, now three years old, sees a princess with a handsome man, she says, "That's you and me, Daddy." Oy, my fucking heart melts every damn time. Sadly, that relegates my wife to being the evil stepmother or a sea witch in most Disney flicks but hey, those are my daughters words—not mine!

But there is a dark side to having a toddler daughter: Taking her into the men's room to change her diaper.

I don't care where you are in the world, a men's bathroom is a nasty place riddled with smells, sounds and sights that haunt the soul. If you've never been inside a public men's restroom, I can best describe the environment as a place where dreams go to die. I don't know why but it seems every other man on the planet lacks the ability to hit the porcelain target. Instead, floors, walls and, unexplainably, ceilings are typically covered with urine and excrement. The only logical explanation to spraying down a ceiling with poo would be ... THERE IS NO EXPLANATION!

When you enter a men's bathroom, contrary to what one of my female co-workers thinks, it's not all wang and ass-cheeks standing around. There's an unspoken rule that when you approach a urinal, you look straight ahead. You can look up, you can look down, but don't you dare look left or right. You pull your junk out once you're in a guarded position and you put it away before you back away. Simple.

So when forced with the challenge of changing your toddler's diaper in this godforsaken place, here are some tips to get your through possibly the hardest and most dangerous moment of your life.

  1. Only Use the Men's Room - Just because your daughter is a female, it doesn't mean you can walk into the ladies' room to change her. No matter how well your intentions were, a police officer will think you're a danger to society. And society will agree.
  2. Don't Let Her Touch Anything – This one is obvious but it must be stated, much like flight attendants still show us how to buckle up each flight. They say this because most people are stupid. Not you, of course. No, you are a smart, intelligent creature but other people are very dumb.
  3. The Sink Counter Is the Cleanest Option – Since most places don't offer men a pull-down changing table like you'd find in a majority of women's rooms (so my wife brags), you'll have to use the next best thing—the sink counter. If you even think about using a "clean part of the floor," you have failed as a human.
  4. Keep Her Attention – Don't let your princess's eyes start to wander. I know I mentioned the unspoken rule that demands wieners stay in pants when away from the urinal but that soft and cuddly grampa that just entered the bathroom doesn't care about living in a society with rules. And, just like it's common knowledge that ears and noses never stop growing, let's just say I know why 90-year-old men typically hunch over.
  5. Be Prepared – You entered this room with your most impressive accomplishment ever—your daughter—so have a goddamn plan, will ya? Now is not the time to realize you left the wipes in the stroller or you forgot to bring her backup pants. You want to be like a French NASCAR pit crew—quick, precise and a little snotty about your surroundings.
  6. Don't You Dare Use the Toilet – I don't care if your bladder is going to rupture, now is not the time for personal relief. Get in, get out. It's impossible to successfully keep a toddler from touching things if you are sitting on the throne. If she gets out of arm's reach and touches anything, you pretty much have to hand her over to child services.
  7. Laugh If Someone Farts – This is a perfect time to teach your daughter that when a stranger farts, it's hilarious. If someone lets one rip, then it's our duty to let our kin know this is the pinnacle of comedy.
  8. Paper Towel Your Way Out - A child's brain is a sponge. It retains everything you toss in it's path so now's a perfect time to burn the habit of using a paper towel to open the door on the way out of any bathroom into her tiny little skull. Oh, what's that? You didn't know that trick? You're fired.

OK, assuming you weren't just given your daddy walking papers, you are now fully prepared to enter the dank abyss and show your daughter that you truly are her knight in shining armor … with a diaper bag.

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