Russian Bathrooms + Kids = Disaster

Before traveling to Russia several friends who had been there warned me about the bathrooms. Not only are they scary, but I was repeatedly told “toilet seats don’t exist”, they’re just a “big bowl on a stick shooting out of the ground”, and the bathrooms are “never stocked with toilet paper”. During my travels in Russia I rarely found the bathrooms not stocked with toilet paper; I would have been covered though since I never left the hotel without tissues in the pockets. However, the scary, big bowl sticking out of the ground part was more than true. I didn’t realize just how true until, my daughter, Princess Two, was traumatized by a Russian toilet…

The really scary bathrooms weren’t in the hotels in Russia, at least not the ones we stayed at but rather the airports. Now, to be fair most airport bathrooms aren’t nice. Take New Orleans for example. Gross! As an adult I can get past it. Get in and get out. But my daughters are a different story.

It all began at the airport in Chita, Siberia. I asked Princess Two if she needed to use the potty before we boarded the plane. Of course she did, what child doesn’t want to visit the potty to check things out? My two-and-a-half-year-old was equipped with a Pull-Up for the flight, even though she was potty-trained (yes, “was” just keep reading). Upon entering the bathroom I had a sweet, happy little girl in my arms. I proceeded to remove the four layers of clothing (it was negative 34 degrees outside) she smiled all the while. I gently lifted her over the toilet. She was still smiling and chattering away. Then, she made the mistake. She looked behind her and down into the toilet. Blood curdling screams now came from what was a sweet, giggling little girl just a milli-second before.

At that moment a million things raced though my head. The first, thoughts of Russian guards breaking through the bathroom door to “save” my daughter. Then, how quickly can I get these four layers back on her before anyone comes into the bathroom to see why my child is screaming like someone in a horror flick (the setting was honestly quit perfect for one, flickering lights and all).  Too late.

A stern, robust Russian woman entered the bathroom. She starred. Began speaking in Russian and I just smiled. “Sorry, I don’t speak Russian,” I franticly responded in very bad Russian. She starred blankly back at me. Perhaps I didn’t say it right…

“My daughter got scared of the toilet,” I said as I fumbled through, re-applying the four layers of clothing to a wiggling, screaming Princess Two. Thankfully no guards came in. That woman was on my flight and watched me very closely during the seven-hours back into Moscow.

Yes, a seven-hour flight with a wet Pull-Up. Princess Two was so terrified of going to the bathroom she wouldn’t even let me change her in the seat. And so it began. First the Pull-Up got soaked. Then the pants. Then the fleece blanket I had doubled over for her to sit on. The trauma doesn’t end there though. It took more than a month for her to be able to go into a bathroom without screaming. She’s still scared to sit on an adult toilet; she’s warming up to her pink princess potty though. Too bad it’s just the dolls who like to enjoy bathroom time on the pink princess potty…Back in diapers thanks to the toilet at the Chita airport…

This summer we’ll be traveling and toilet training. At least we’ll be in the States so fingers crossed we won’t have more trauma. I will be checking out the bathroom stalls before letting her in though. Let the adventures begin…

Happy Travels!


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