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Why Does My Kid Always Have to Poop in Public?

Photograph by Twenty20

This small nightmare started for me when my youngest was a tiny baby. We would go out to lunch and, as soon as we got situated and got our food, he would have a dirty diaper. Off I'd go to change him as fast as I could before my food got cold.

But what I thought were strange and unfortunate coincidences when he was just months old never went away.

When he was old enough to walk, he would want to be set free from the high chair and go under the table, where he would fill his diaper. It didn't matter where we were—a fast-food joint enjoying a Happy Meal, the drive-thru at our favorite bagel place or out for a Mother's Day brunch—he had to take a crap. Sometimes he even had to go twice.

This was the point in my life when I became irate that there were no changing stations in the men's rooms. There were times I made my then-husband take him out to the car and change him, simply so I could have a break and enjoy an uninterrupted meal. Otherwise, as soon as I got two bites into my burger or eggs Benedict, we would have a code brown and I'd have to leave my meal, change a butt and try to regain my appetite.

The bad news is that this habit didn't go away when he started potty training like I hoped. (His older brother and sister never dropped a No. 2 in public, which created some problems on its own but it was a better than having to deal with the public poo.) As soon as my youngest was done with the diapers, he certainly wasn't ready to give up pooping in every restaurant. Even if he took a hot steamy one before we left the house, which I always asked him to do, he always had to go as soon as our food hit the table and he had a few bites.

As soon as I got two bites in ... I'd have to leave my meal, change a butt and try to regain my appetite.

Now, we all know most kids don't take just a minute to drop the kids off at the pool, and my son was no exception. Yes, he had to go really bad and would tell me the poop was coming out right this second, but it never made the process any faster. There were many times I'd be in there with him for over 20 minutes, waiting for him to move his bowels, even to this day. (He's now 11.)

In fact, strangers come up to me after watching him walk into the bathroom to let me know he has "been in there a really long time."

While I feel bad and apologize all over the place to those waiting for the loo, I've tried everything to make him hurry up and go, but nothing works. Telling him he can't go when he really has to also isn't an option because holding it in can actually do damage to his system.

So, for now, I'll just have to wait it out. But I know I'm not alone. Shout out to all the parents out there whose kids constantly have to use the bathroom every time you go out. Like you, I have to carve out an extra hour in our schedule to fit the bathroom break. Just think, it won't be long until they can do their business without us and we can enjoy our meal without a visit to the public shitter. Promise.

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