Today Duy, my coworker, called me over to his desk. That in itself was strange because usually it's the other way around (I have customers that need a banker, so I either call him over to me or send them to him). The only time I've ever been beckoned over to a banker's desk was to translate, and I knew it wasn't that this time around because the mother at his desk and her two kids had already been there talking to him for a while.
As I approached, he wasn't saying anything to let me know what he needed, just looking at me with a kind of question mark on his face. Finally, he came out with it: "Could you please take this little girl to the bathroom?"
Today's New Activity: Potty Patrol
The little girl in question was a 3-year-old cutie, sitting there with her brother and her Mom, who was opening up a number of accounts including savings accounts for both kids. I paused briefly, only because it was hard for me to imagine that any mother would rather have a stranger take her child to the bathroom than simply take a little break from the banking action and go herself. But I'm happy to help out a Mom in need, so I went.
The little girl looked super wary at first (Good! She should be! Sent off to the bathroom with a stranger?!), but I tried my best to ask questions and share about my own young son, just to put her at ease.
When we got to the restroom, the handicapped stall was open. We both took one look at the seat and knew it was too high for her. I told the little girl we'd have to wait, because the one other stall that was unoccupied had a broken lock that would trap her in there if she closed the door behind her (good job putting her at ease, eh?). When the other stalled opened up and I let her in, I realized the toilet was the same height as the handicapped one. What was there to do but tell her to pull down her pants so I could lift her onto the toilet?
I have to say this was a very strange feeling: sharing this very personal experience with this poor little girl who'd never so much as seen me before I walked up to take her away from her Mommy and to the bathroom. I asked her if she wanted me to close the door and she said yes (which I was a little relieved about). But I realized that she was too small to reach the toilet paper, so first I wadded up a few servings for her and left them within reach.
After a second I remembered the last thing her Mom had said to me as we set off for the restroom: "She knows how to wipe herself." That was funny to me at the time; I was wondering why in the hell this woman would assume any old bank employee would have been willing to do the wiping, were this self-wiping skill not already in place, but at the time I hadn't thought *all* the way through the implications of that statement. A question occurred to me just then:
"Sweetheart," I said, "do you have to go number one or number two?"
"Number two," a tiny voice answered.
Okay then. I'd wait it out.
I knew, because I'm a Mom myself, that the amount of time we were gone must have been making the Mom nervous (and Duy told me later that she was definitely antsy in that time), but I wasn't about to rush the girl, and the whole time I couldn't help but wonder again and again at this Mom's choice. But ultimately I decided I was glad she judged me a trustworthy person to handle this task, and I understand why Duy chose me for it too. Shockingly, I was the only mother working in the branch today; he must have figured it was familiar territory for me.
The other thing I was thinking about is how nice it must be to have a child who takes care of bathroom business on her own. As much as I'm not looking forward to potty training, I'm of course looking VERY much forward to the days immediately following, when I can hoist Monkey up onto any old toilet and let him do his thing.
I went to the next stall and gathered up more little toilet paper bunches and waited to hear the little girl's call that she was ready for them. And I was strangely grateful for the chance to be a nice stranger in this girl's life--one that her mother could task with helping her through this moment, and who'd see it done, hand washing and all.
Not in my bank teller job description perhaps, but among the Interconnected Nervous System of Mama responsibilities to be sure.