Contending with the bodily wastes of small humans is all part and parcel of parenting. Since becoming a parent eight years ago, and then the main carer for our children four years ago -I have bravely (and not so bravely) battled against almost every texture, odour and colour that the body can possibly produce. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully mingin'.
I have discovered that managing the realities of parenting in the home is relatively straightforward in comparison with the intricacies of public management of infant hygiene! Boris and Norris are of course, like me, male. This has caused a few problems over the years, especially when they were both in nappies. In a recent conversation I was reminded that I should name and shame Bells sports centre in Perth - whose only baby changing facilities are in the ladies loo. I declined the opportunity to see what the ladies is like and insisted instead on changing Norris' howling nappy in the corridor on the grounds that if they were going to be antediluvian in their provision then I could be troglodyte in my behaviour! They could hardly complain!
Thankfully the church I go to has provided baby changing in the gents as well. This is just as well, because Mrs Hideous used to work a lot of weekends when Boris was a baby and it meant that we weren't excluded. Such enlightened attitudes may be the norm here, but have clearly not reached the Vatican. On our visit to St Peter's in Rome I tried to take young Norris to change him while Mrs Hideous toured the great Cathedral. It turned out that (like Bells) the only facilities were in the ladies. I asked where I should change him but the guard curtly said, "No! You will get your wife!" I was about to launch into a tearful, "My wife died bearing this child, all because Il Papa won't let us use contraception and I have come to Rome to pray for her soul" - just to see the look on his face. Sadly, (but perhaps probably for the best) my conscience overcame satire and I went to get Mrs Hideous.
Child number three (Doris) is a girl. When she was a baby this fact made little difference, but now that she is three, and (usually) toilet trained, this has raised completely different issues. Doris can't walk past Marks and Spencer's without going in for a pee. The toilets in that shop must have made a profound affect upon her consciousness, as she was sometimes given a treat in their coffee shop for managing to pee appropriately, on demand, in the cludgie as distinct from over her clothes. Now we have a situation of Pavlov's bladder, when even the sound of the words "Marks and Spencer" will be met with the almost instant need to piddle.
So we leave the High Street and go in to Marks' and up the escalator, past the cafe and through the doors into the toilet area. Here is where the Great Bog Dilemma takes place. Doris insists that as a girl, she is going to go into the girl's toilet. I insist that she is a toddler and is not going in by herself. She counters by demanding that I come in with her, to which I point out that it might lead to my arrest. Am I happy to take her into the gents? Well - sometimes, it all depends on what the gents is like and how inappropriately she might stare at a row of willies peeing in a trough. Gents are hardly the most private or discreet of places. She is not yet embarrassed - but there's always the chance that someone might find her presence a problem. It won't be long before she is embarrased however. So which door? In Marks' there is a baby changing room, which does not discriminate against Dads - but it does not have a toilet! So we tend to use the disabled - where there is one. Many places do not have a separate disabled toilet.
So - where are Dad's supposed to take their daughters, when the tank is full, the call of nature comes and the exertions of two finely tuned kidneys are about to break out and make their mark? Dad's, what's the answer to the Great Bog Dilemma?