The words every parent dreads hearing when they are stuck in traffic with a toddler in the car

My initial feeling of inner calm that we had left in plenty of time for a birthday party, which according to Mr Google Maps was a 51 minute drive away, soon began to fade when the traffic started to pile up. I could see the minutes on the Sat Nav “Estimated Time of Arrival” slowly increasing as my calm and relaxed state of mind was doing the exact opposite.

I had received strict instructions from my friend, whose child’s party it was, to arrive no later than 3.30pm. The entertainment would be starting then and I certainly didn’t want our little girl to miss out on all the fun.

Having been caught out on family outings several times before I was well and truly on the case today. I planned the day and journey as usual with military precision.

My husband and I decided that just myself, my mum and my eldest daughter (age 2.5 years) would attend the party. This would leave the baby at home with him so she could have her afternoon nap there (previous experience of her missing day sleeps had resulted in excessive amounts of tears and tantrums and no one was a winner on those occasions).

I put our eldest down for an earlier than usual 2 hour sleep so she was bright and sparkly in readiness for the journey and party. After much wrestling and bribery I made sure that she sat on the toilet just before we left and didn’t allow any liquid to pass her lips on the immediate lead up to the journey or in the car.

We left at 2.15pm as planned, my daughter had slept well and had a wee on the toilet only moments before leaving. The day was going according to plan and I was feeling a little smug that my careful planning was paying off.

Unfortunately this mood was temporary.

The traffic began to pile up. It was a Saturday after all and we were travelling from one side of Sydney to the other. Luckily,  within my agenda, I had allowed extra time. I tried to stay calm, continuing the conversation with Mum and restraining myself from obsessing about the minutes on the Sat Nav’s ETA which were slowly but surely increasing.

Then I heard the words every parent dreads hearing when they are stuck in traffic and running late with a toddler in the car

“Mummy, I need the toilet”

My heart sank, I tried not to panic as I frantically scanned the area for suitable options. Unfortunately I couldn’t see anywhere that would provide immediate relief for this predicament. So I began the interrogation of my daughter in an attempt to determine the urgency of the situation

“Do you need a wee wee or a poo poo darling?’’

“A wee wee Mummy”

Knowing that she does have a tendency to get a little confused between the feelings associated with the urge for a wee or a poo, I asked her again

“Are you sure you need a wee wee darling? Definitely not a poo poo?”

Her tone changed as she became more insistent, frustrated she shrieked back at me

“I neeeeeeed a wee wee Mummy”

Damn! It appeared we did have an emergency situation on our hands and nothing was going to change that except stopping at the nearest available toilet/bush.

The traffic was still moving at a pace akin to that of a snail, so I employed every distraction tactic I could think of to divert her attention until I could find a suitable place to stop the car.

Suddenly relief washed over me, I could see red and white in the very near distance. This could  only mean one thing- Hoorah for the KFC drive-thru (not usually a lover of fast food but on this day I was prepared to make an exception).

Quickly smashing the indicator on, I was poised and ready to manoeuvre across the road as soon as the cars in front were out of my way.

S***t!I had missed the turning.  Trying to stay calm,  I decided to just take the next one. Surely I could walk through to KFC, I thought to myself.

Meanwhile my child was doing her broken record impression

“I need a wee, I need a wee, Muuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmy – I need a wee wee”

It soon became apparent that the turning I’d taken was one way with no getting off, leading me down into an underground concrete abyss.

In my head, rather like my daughter’s broken record impression, I too was repeating to myself over and over

“Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm, what’s the worst that can happen?”

The little devil in my head was replying with “She wets herself in her beautiful party clothes in the car seat, leaving the car seat, herself and the car wet and smelling of wee. We arrive late and miss the party culminating in a 2 hour round trip for nothing”.

No idea where we were heading for or what this place was, I was relieved to see we had entered a car park for a huge liquor store (Off Licence to any Brits).

I drove into the first space I saw, jumped out of the car and ran around to the other side yanking the door open. Grappling with the car seat buckles I pulled my daughter out into my arms. I then proceeded to leg it up the stairs desperately searching for a nearby toilet or anywhere that could be deemed as an acceptable place for a child to pee. Nope, nothing in sight, no toilets, no bushes, nothing.

As if I could possibly forget my daughter reminded me again

“Mummy, I neeeeeeeeeed the toilet”

I glanced to my right and through the window I saw the very same red and white signage that had filled me with such hope only minutes earlier. KFC was back in my sights. We found the exit and ran out onto the street and into KFC with only one thing on our minds and it wasn’t whether we could find chicken or not.

I saw the sign I’d been desperately searching for and dashed towards the toilet door.

But it was locked. What the hell?

Pushing my way to the front of the queue I hollered at one of the kids serving on the till

“Why’s the toilet door locked?”

Looking at me rather confused he calmly replied,

“Because someone must be using it”

Of course, stupid me. So it would seem there was only one toilet – great.

So we waited, for what felt like forever but was probably seconds. Me still employing any distraction technique possible whilst carrying my daughter who was fidgeting around and reminding me every second of her urgent need for the toilet.

All of a sudden I saw the lock move from red to green and the door began to open. I grabbed hold of it, pretending to help the lady who was on her way out,  but really only determined to get her out and us in ASAP. Slamming the door behind us and doing my best not to touch anything or let my daughter touch anything in the filthy toilet, I pulled her tights down and held her in position hovering above the seat. She let out a small fart,  looked up at me and smiled.

“Finished” she announced proudly.

“Don’t you need a wee wee?” I demanded.

I even felt her to see if one slipped out that I hadn’t noticed. Dry as a bone.

“No Mummy, nothing coming out. I don’t need the toilet”

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