HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
September 18, 2006, Herald Journal

The case of the automatic flush

By JEN BAKKEN

It was time to make the usual weekly trip to the grocery store.

At the time, my infant daughter was on an apnea monitor, which is a machine that tells you if they stop breathing. So there were cords, a bag, plus all the other things you need to carry when taking a baby anywhere.

And, how could I forget, my 3- year-old son was along and ready to touch everything in sight at the store. Other than these things, this shopping adventure was going smoothly. But I should have known . . . things were going TOO smoothly.

While waiting in the long check-out line, my daughter was screaming, and when she finally fell asleep, I let out a sigh of relief. After being eighth in line, we were about to be next.

Just as I was going to put my first item on the counter, my son began the “potty dance.” It was more than apparent that he could not wait. Reluctantly, I gave up my status in the grocery line. Off to find the restroom with a sleeping girl, a cart, over-flowing with food, and a little boy in a state of emergency.

It took me a few minutes to convince him to go in the bathroom alone. I felt bad, but I didn’t want to wake up his sister and have the screaming start again. Besides, I was right outside the door, impatiently watching the checkout line grow.

All of a sudden, I heard an extremely loud flush echo through the door, immediately followed by screams of fear. Next, the door opens and out hobbles my son with his pants around his ankles. He was screaming so loud that his little sister woke up and began screaming, too. Needless to say, we had the attention of all shoppers in the store.

Did I mention that they were both SCREAMING?

My son was having such a melt -down that I could barely get his pants pulled up. (He apparently hasn’t yet learned what it means to be modest.)

Without thinking, I walked out of the store with a baby in one arm, two baby bags, and my son attached to one of my legs.

I feel awful that I left a cart full of food in front of the restroom. I guess this article should be an official apology to that store.

But did I mention that they were both SCREAMING?

I understand the reasons for having automatic flushing toilets in public restrooms. But as the mother of a son with very hyper-sensitive ears . . . and the fear that he could be sucked down drains or toilets . . . a warning on the door would have been nice. Something like,

“Warning – we flush for you.”

Oh, and for the record, I did go back and buy all those groceries – later that night, without the children.