She Should See What We Do with Used Tissues

Saturday morning after SK’s soccer class, the four of us trooped into the grocery store, supposedly to pick up a loaf of bread, but really because momma wanted a pumpkin doughnut.

I took Saoirse to the bathroom when we got there (“Mom?  I don’t HAFTA go pee!”), way in the back of their market cafe eating area.  The women’s bathroom (the one, I so dislike pointing out to SK, we identify because the lady symbol is wearing a skirt) had a grand ol’ mommy-and-me stall inside (because this is Wegman’s, after all), complete with sink.

So Saoirse went to the bathroom (even though “I don’t WANNA go on the toy-let!” she said), and we happily washed her hands afterward, chit-chattering the whole time, as conversations with three-year-olds are wont to go.  We discussed the potty, and the sanitary napkin waste can (because that’s always a fun explanation), and the soap dispenser (“Smell my hands, Mom.  They’re clean now!”) and, of course the paper towel dispenser.

Freshly washed and ready to stuff some fried dough into our faces (whee!), we walked out of the mini-stall, through the main section of the bathroom, toward the door.  There was another woman standing there, fixing her hair in front of the mirror, and she kept staring at us.  SK stalled in front of the sink counter, looking around, while I encouraged her to keep walking already (getting kiddos this age to move is like herding cats, I tell you).  The lady kept staring, her face stern, mouth pulled down in disapproval.  I wondered if she didn’t like the mud all over SK’s pants or something (soccer, lady.  It’s a Saturday morning in suburbia).  But we kept walking.  Just as I was reaching for the door, the woman spoke.

“Aren’t you going to wash her hands?”

Yes, that’s what she asked.  I stopped for a moment.  Are you kidding me?  I thought.  Are you flipping KIDDING me?!

“We washed her hands inside the other stall,” I replied.  “There’s a sink inside.”  Normally I would have plastered a nervous smile on my face, or come up with a silly, defensive response.  But I was flabbergasted.  I turned on my heel, one hand on SK’s back, and left the bathroom.  I could hear the woman laughing nervously behind me, saying something about being a grandmother, so she’s always concerned.  A bunch of thoughts were jumbling around in my head, and I just wanted to get out of there and away from that bathroom and that lady.  I wanted to get  my very sanitary young daughter back to David (“Can you believe what this woman just said to me?!” was already blurting out of my mouth) and my baby and eat my damn doughnut.

But she chased me.  The lady chased me out of the bathroom until she caught up with me and apologized if she offended me, but she’s a grandmother and is always concerned (she didn’t say about what: the health of the general population?  My parenting skills?).  I finally gave her a smile and said something about how it’s just funny she said something to me because I’m so fastidious about washing my children’s hands (as I told David, yes, I said “fastidious.”  When I get nervous I use big words), and that’s all I could say.  She kept apologizing the whole way into the regular part of the store, until she went her way and I found my family and my stinking doughnut.

I get it.  We’ve all watched someone walk out of a bathroom stall and leave without washing her hands (unless you’re one of those people.  Are you?  No, not you.  That’s gross).  We’ve all done that shudder of revulsion before using a paper towel to open the door handle General Germsalot just touched.  But to actually saying something to that person?  I dunno.  Isn’t that crossing some sort of mind-your-own-beeswax boundary?  I felt so affronted by that woman’s question–“Smell her hands, lady!  SEE?!  She said they were clean!”– and I wonder what good it would’ve accomplished if I wasn’t the type to carry thirty types of hand sanitizer in my bag at all times.  Probably not a lot.  I’d be too busy chasing the nosy lady around the room with my germy hands.

The doughnut was worth it, in case you’re wondering.  I don’t need to tell you that I wiped the table down with an anti-bacterial wipe before the girls ate, though.  After all, you ever know who was there before you.

One thought on “She Should See What We Do with Used Tissues

  1. I hate it when strangers think they can give parenting advice. Yes, it’s gross when people don’t wash their hands. But really, it’s their business. She followed you because she knew she had overstepped her bounds.

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