Are you paying for these by card or cash?’ asked the woman in Boots, whose face was so miserable I doubt she smiled even on her wedding day. That’s if she’s married at all.
She asked me this question while I was fighting to remove the trousers and knickers of my two-year-old daughter Mary, who was screaming at the top of her voice, ‘Daddy, need wee. NOW!’
Meanwhile behind me was a queue of impatient customers, all staring at me as if each trying to plot the exact way they’d like to torture and mutilate me. It was a stressful few minutes.
What had led me to this situation was Mary announcing, the day before, that she was now a big girl and would no longer wear a nappy.
‘We need to start potty training,’ announced Mrs C in a grim voice, as if informing me a close relative had passed away. I nodded my head solemnly and took a deep breath to steel myself for the battle ahead.
The first 24 hours went remarkably well. Mary had only one accident when she was engrossed by an episode of Peppa Pig.
Mrs C took potty training really seriously and in the first half hour alone after removing Mary’s nappy, asked our daughter 13 times if she needed a wee. Getting slightly cheesed off Mary exclaimed, ‘Mummy, are you deaf? I don’t need the god damn toilet’.
The following day Mrs C was out so I took Mary to the park.
We went on the swings and the slide – Mary having a whale of a time. I asked a handful of times if she needed the loo. ‘No daddy, I’m fine,’ she replied on each occasion.
Finally managing to prise her off the swing on the promise I’d give her chocolate, we headed over to a nearby Boots.
And this is where the embarrassing bit happened.
I’d selected the goods I wanted – toothpaste, hand soap, haemorrhoid ointment – and headed to the checkout.
I waited in line, holding Mary’s hand to restrain her from pushing over a large display of Ambre Solaire, and eventually got to the front.
The afore-mentioned Boots cashier began scanning my items while a large queue behind me watched on.
Then came the dreaded words, screamed to the whole shop, ‘I NEED A WEE NOW!’.
I was carrying the potty Mrs C told me I must take out, in readiness for this very moment.
‘But surely I couldn’t put a potty down on a shop floor and let my daughter urinate in front of around 25 people?’ I thought. ‘Daddy I need a wee RIGHT NOW’.
The woman behind the till completely ignored my predicament and asked if I was paying by cash or card. ‘I – erm – I’m not – erm, it’s not…’ I began but wasn’t really aware of what she asked or what I was saying because I was trying to work out what to do with Mary.
I made a decision, I reasoned removing her trousers and knickers and sticking her on the potty was preferable to her distributing a large amount of urine across Boots shop floor and so with one hand I thrust my card at the woman and with the other ripped off Mary’s clothes and stuck her on her potty.
The reaction of the customers behind me ranged from mild disdain to outright disgust while the woman behind the till stiffened and looked down her glasses at me.
As we all stood awkwardly, the silence was broken by a light tinkling sound and Mary breaking into a verse of Polly Put The Kettle On.
As soon as she finished, I scooped up the potty – almost sending the sloshing contents flying all over the bloke behind me – got her knickers back on, and hurtled for the exit door with Mary asking why we were walking so fast. I told my mum about it later and she was horrified.
Potty training continues this week. I’ll let you know if anything else of note occurs.