Picture this: You walk into an eating establishment. You look to your left. And there is a woman in the seating area—where people eat—changing a baby’s diaper. Kind of makes you lose your appetite a little, does it not? This is the scene my family and I walked into when we went out for frozen yogurt last Sunday evening. I’ve been debating myself as to whether this is in fact as outrageous as I thought it was. Then I consider the immediate reaction my wife, always the cooler head of the two us and rarely one to instantly judge. She had the same initial reaction as I did. That is, “What the bleep is she doing?!”
I think this is unacceptable. There are societal norms that we have to adhere to even in cases of child-care emergency. Human feces and frozen yogurt do not mix. Ever. It’s gross. Not to mention unsanitary and just plain dirty. Just because we have children, it does not excuse us from thinking of other people when we are in public with our children. Sure, there are times when we need to let our child have the tantrum in the store. But there are also times when we need to give them a Snickers bar to avoid the meltdown in the checkout lane. Same theory applies to diaper changing. Use the bathroom. If there is no changing table in there, shame on the establishment. But we certainly can’t expect every place of business with a public restroom to be equipped with a changing station in the restroom. It would be nice, but that not realistic.
Since every shop and restaurant does not cater to the needs of diaper-changing parents, that doesn’t mean we spite the place and the other people frequenting it by throwing dirty diapers around. Go to your car. Use the backseat if you have to or the trunk if you can. Or dare I say… go home. This is a place where people come for enjoyment and refreshment. Not to see your baby’s business. The entire frozen yogurt experience lasts for 10 minutes, 15 tops, from pour to payment to palate. Unless this is a diaper explosion of epic, blog-worthy proportions, can’t it wait? Is that so blasphemous?
Parenting is a full-contact sport. We are making split-second decisions all day long, depending on what looks the defense is throwing at us. But we can’t get consumed by it. We can’t take our eyes off the ball. Sure, these places need to do a better job accommodating parents who need to change diapers by installing changing stations in both the men’s and women’s rooms. But the absence of those facilities does not give us liberty to let the feces fly in a place where people are eating. This is about cleanliness and public health. Diapers are gross. That’s we why try to start potty training as soon as possible.
I admit, I don’t know what kind of situation the woman I saw in the fro-yo place was in. Maybe she was at her wit’s end. Maybe she had her hands full. Maybe she had no choice. Or maybe she just didn’t care about the 15-20 other people in the store. We all make mistakes as parents. Let’s never make the mistake of ambivalence towards others. That’s a lesson worth teaching our kids.
If we go around town thinking our baby’s sh!t doesn’t stink, then our baby is going to grow up thinking the same way.
Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who also blogs about the people in his neighborhood at Daddy Knows Less.