Modern (In)conveniences

I've discovered lately that there a few innovations that, while convenient for the general public, are not convenient for the parents of toddlers. I never would have anticipated this before I had a toddler, but children have a way of making you see the world differently.

First: the self-flushing toilet. I realize this is a good way to promote sanitary conditions in the bathroom, because you don't have to touch anything to flush them (though I always just use my foot on the regular toilets with the long handles), and it's nice that they flush automatically to clean up after those people who for some reason don't remember/want to flush when they're in a public restroom. The problem I have with them is that most are so sensitive that any movement triggers a flush; you know what I'm talking about if you've ever had one of these toilets flush when you stood up, then flush again when you opened the stall door. It's even worse with a potty-training toddler. These toilets probably flush four or five times while I'm in the process of undressing Kent from the waist down, sitting him on the potty, getting him back down onto the floor, putting his diaper back on, etc. The amount of water it wastes makes me crazy. Especially on Earth Day. More than once, I have actually said out loud to a toilet, "Stop flushing!"

Second: the automatic sliding door at retail and grocery stores. I'll admit that automatic doors were a godsend to me when I was pushing Kent around in a stroller all the time. The delicate dances in which you hold a traditional door open with one hand while you drag your stooped-over self and the stroller through the doorway, or back through it and wheel your child backward and have to bump the door repeatedly with your butt, get pretty old. But now that Kent is supremely mobile, sovereign, and prone to wandering off, they pose something of a hazard. I came close to losing Kent for the first time today at Walgreen's (serious freak-out for about 30 seconds), and when I was asking moms of older toddlers about the experience later, one of them told me that she has more than once worried that when her son wandered off, he had perhaps gone through the front door and out into the parking lot. That's some scary stuff.

Third, and finally: the voice-activated menu when you call an 800-number. Thankfully, most companies don't have these, or if they do, there are easy ways to navigate around them. But when you have a toddler within earshot who likes to repeat words you say at REALLY LOUD volumes, it's next to impossible to successfully get to the right menu options. Jack and I have been discussing this recently, how I've been stymied several times when I had to make phone calls from home. We were completely unable to use GOOG-411 the other day in the car because Kent kept yelling back the words Jack was saying. It's funny, but it's just so much harder to do these days than pushing numbers.

We went to visit Jack at his office today, and I told Kent that after we left, we were going to go to the back of the building where there's a lake so that we could visit the ducks. As we were walking past cubicles and open office doors, Kent was repeatedly yelling, "K see duuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!" I told Jack that I hoped nobody was trying to use a voice-activated menu at the time, and Jack jokingly said, in his best phone-menu voice, "If you'd like to see the ducks, please say 'yes'."

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Carry some post its and stick one over the laser on the toilet when you enter the stall. The wasted paper is probably less then the wasted water from the flushing. And it's always unnerving when they flush while your still on them! Not that I do this, but maybe if I carried a purse I'd think about it. Or a roll of masking tape or something.
These are excellent observations and I completely agree with all of them. I am also particularly frustrated with the automatic door.....annoyingly one of the MOST frustrating set of these doors is at the pediatrician's office! Sheesh! I guess they were thinking of the parents with new babes...but forgot that they see older kids, too. --Heather
if post it notes are too much to remember just hang a piece of tp over the sensor. Can you tell John and I have spent a lot of time having to use public restrooms?

Also, you can text to google 411 and avoid the vocal distraction of the automated thing. I love google.
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