I had a nightmare last night. I dreamed that my children and I desperately needed to use the potty and found ourselves inside an absolutely dreadful restroom. The restroom was small and dark, the floor was mostly wet, and the toilets had no cover and were of full of disgusting matter that was about to overflow. I wanted to turn around and leave, but the children needed to go. I was in great distress. Thank goodness dreams lack the sense of smell. So today as soon as the children got home from school, I had them both practicing squatting.

We are taking the kids to visit Taiwan and China this summer for the first time. We are very excited about our upcoming trip, except for the authentic Chinese restrooms. I know we are going to be safe in our hotels, the major cities, and probably top tourist attractions spots, but we have an ambitious itinerary that includes small towns and unbeaten paths. That is where the danger lurks.

I decided to prepare my two children for this uneasy part of their trip, starting with a painful description of a smelly restroom, with no toilets, but trenches that you have to squat over, and with no doors or no individual stalls.

“So, people can see your butt?” my baby asked, looking anxious.

“That’s right! And you better remember to bring your own toilet paper.” I gave it to them straight.

Then I had them both practice squatting. They each took turns squatting over an imaginary ditch I drew in the kitchen and competed to see who can hold their position the longest. Of course, this had the unintended side effect of becoming funny business in the comfort of our home, and they proceeded to do creative things as they tried to master this new concept of answering nature’s call. My children are very creative, so the three of us ended up laughing and giggling through this whole exercise.

The children have thoroughly enjoyed their squatting lesson, and promised to squat some more in their free time. They are now well prepared, and even looking forward to facing the real thing in China. I am so proud of my parenting skill…

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